Earlier this week, my husband told me that he was calculating the outcome of his time in Morocco. He said he had spent money on his studies and on living here, probably more than he had earned in three years of working. But, he said, he still thought he had received far more than he had given. He learned how to do his career, even if the studies and unpaid internships were expensive. He learned how to live on his own and how to support himself. He gained a community and served the same church for ten years. He became a better singer. He met his (lovely) wife and began married life. Overall, he gained more than he lost.
I’ve also learned a lot since first coming here four years ago. How to find an apartment and pay my taxes, how to keep myself healthy, how to teach and how to lead a group, how to speak other languages, and how to work on a team. I gained the experience necessary to choose and apply for a masters, I saved some money, and I made new friends. I got baptized and I got married to my (amazing) husband. But the biggest thing I think I have learned is pretty simple.
The most important thing I’ve taken away is that nowhere and nobody is really so different from what I know. Even here in Casablanca, I can make friends, find people with similar interests, and enjoy when my neighbor blasts my favorite Taylor Swift song (Love Story). Of course, not everyone has the same opinions, traditions, or beliefs, but I know now that I could live in many different places in the world and feel at home. I know that I can become friends with someone from any culture or from any religion or any upbringing.
But along with that, I also feel more empathy for those in need in many situations. Before, when I read news stories about the Middle East, war-torn countries, or plane crashes, I brushed them off as things that could never happen to me. But now I can imagine myself or someone I know being in a city that was attacked or being on a plane that was lost. Those places, and the people in them, now seem closer to home.
I hope I will soon become a social worker who works with refugees, and I hope this will help me do a better job. But I guess I’ll have more to say on that later!