Oumayma- Service Learning Day

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Her name is Oumayma, she’s fourteen years old, and she can kill it on the basketball court. She was standing with her friends as the group of us walked onto the property of their school, her and I made eye contact as we followed the leader into the property; I smiled and waved, the boundary of complete unfamiliarity now broken, she smiled back.

We were drawn to each other as friends and when it came time to split into basketball teams she came right to my side. We attempted to learn each other’s names and pronounced them better each time we tried. Our friendship grew as we played as a team on the court, encouraging and saying things in our own languages but somehow always understanding each other.

Our clothes were different from each other but I thought she looked super cute in her long dress and the way she tied her turquoise scarf around her head like a headband. Our SPU group had brought a bunch of backpacks stuffed with school supplies for all the kids. Oumayma picked out a colorful one for herself, sat back down next to me and looked me in the eyes, “thank you,” she said. That was sweet of her to thank me in my own language, I’m pretty sure it was all she knew how to say too.

We continued to sit there a few minutes longer. Oumayma laughed at me as I attempted to master the beauty of pronouncing mtsrafin—nice to meet you—yet I could tell she appreciated my Darija-Arabic as broken as it was. We seemed to have an unspoken understanding of appreciating each other despite the language barriers, which, in the end, weren’t really barriers at all.

A stellar basketball team

A stellar basketball team

My friend, Oumayma.

My friend, Oumayma.

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