Simple Humility

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The sun worn town perched on a hill of white with floral accents had already been heated by eleven thirty AM making clothes stick to parts of your body you didn’t know could sweat. As my classmates and I approached the worn school with chipping paint, it was quickly obvious this had some officiality about it as uniformed security with the moroccan flag embedded on their breast pocket escorted us from the streets of the village to the school.

Fairly non description in architecture, the schools walls were painted a light lilac and tulip red with vibrant ocean blue doors reflecting the sunlight, keeping the court yard and walkways cool.

There were about five girls sitting outside together. Some covered in black head scarves, others with ponytails, and one in a long teal dress. Smiles shyly glanced up as we continued to follow a small yet powerful woman, the school director, out the back gate on a winding dirt path with the backpacks we had for the children still hanging on our arms. A small woman with a warm smile, the director of the school, took us to the sports fields where she told us to leave our stuff and the backpacks on the ground.

Some young boys in shorts and colorful t-shirts joined us and we learned the students were all middle school aged. The twenty students all seemed timid, but were eager to play. As the groups split between soccer and basket ball, I could feel myself closing down. How will I connect with theses girls playing basket ball? I don’t know how to play, no one is explaining, and this doesn’t seem very relational. I could feel my energy drop and my anxiety rise as my hopes of relationships seemed dashed.

Part way through the teams switched people. We decided to start a group so students could make bracelets since Kasey brought supplies, and I did not seem to be the only one eager to do something other than sports. There were letter beads and colored beads. I tried to explain to the girls they could take five to ten of each type of bead hopefully at first but soon it was obvious they didn’t speak English and my Arabic consists of being able to say yes, no, and thank you. For a brief moment I was eager to try French–that’s normal in Morocco, and I’m terrible at it, but it’s a start. I quickly found out though that they didn’t speak much French either.

Our communication was limited to charades.

As I awkwardly tried to explain what they could do with the beads, I felt as if this part of the trip was hopeless. How can we make an impact if we can’t communicate? We all nervously laughed as they assembled their bracelets and Kasy, and I took turns trying to tie them.

Before long it was time to distribute the backpacks. We went back into the school where a decadent display of Moroccan sweets and drinks sat on a table. The school members pushed food to us, telling us to eat more. Looking around at my classmates I couldn’t help but feel guilty. We had come to help them and serve them, but here they are giving us a feast of sweets. It was a beautiful gift.

The students revived their backpacks with smiles on their faces and then the school representatives took turns giving speeches. These were translated from and to English, French, and Arabic. The interconnectedness of cultures was refreshing especially despite the inconvenience of language.

Too quickly we had to leave, spending over fifteen minutes saying goodbyes. People were being pulled into pictures and if you moved around you were sure to photobomb someone’s picture. I got my picture with the beading girls and then we exchanged hugs and kisses goodbye.

Humility: felt through their gracious friendship and in every hug, then the extra squeeze saying thank you when words would not come across.

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