Caitlin’s Orientation Reflections: Hope & History

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I’ve learned a lot about hope in this orientation class. I always thought of hope as nothing more than an underlying desire. When hope is all that a person has left, however, it is important to make sure that particular hope is not out of reach. I’m referring to the dichotomy between Slumdog Millionaire and Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets; the latter, we watched in class. In Slumdog Millionaire, a poor Indian man gets the chance to participate on a game show to win a million rupees. He wins. Just like that, hope is created for everyone (not just street dwellers, though they are the focus) that they will win a lottery and get out of their situations. This is not a good hope for people who have nothing because it is simply not plausible. To contrast, the Ali Zaoua film depicted a Moroccan street gang with real street youth as the actors. The director, Ayouch’s, goal in making this film was to be sure that those children did not get their hopes raised. The children had to know that acting in this film would not be an out for them. That’s the dichotomy. On the one hand, there’s an award winning film sending a message that if a poor man can answer a few questions, he can win millions and get off the streets. On the other hand, there’s a lesser-known film that wants nothing more than to tell a story and be sure that the boys in the film knew this was only a temporary activity. Acting in this film would not necessarily get them out of the slum. This orientation class has given me a new view on the importance of having the right kind of hope.

This class not only shed light on new ideas, but also informed me of a past that I did not know existed. Spain and Morocco have a messy history. Between the horrors of colonization, war, and lies, it’s a wonder that the countries still exist at all. The most interesting piece of history that I learned, however, is that of the Islamic Era in Spain, also called the “Golden Era.” We watched a documentary that included a segment about the Alhambra, a Moorish Palace in Granada, Spain. This palace is only a part of the Moroccan influence that affected Spain hundreds of years ago. There’s a lot of architectural design that is owed to Morocco, but also, Spain would not have come to power without their neighbors to the south. It had no power until it became Moorish Spain. The Moroccans brought knowledge of philosophy and math with them to Spain. They were able to translate works in Arabic, and help with prosperous agriculture because of their knowledge of irrigation. All this together is what helped bring Spain to power, something Ferdinand and Isabella did not seem to realize when they ruled the country and forced the Muslims out. Them, as well as most of the rest of the world does not know the affects of the Moors in Spain, and that is simply unfortunate. Spain and Morocco have a long history with each other. They are two beautiful countries with a dark past that must be remembered, especially when we study abroad there.

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