new places, new friends, new stories

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“I went to college in Texas for two years but just moved back to Morocco. I didn’t have much of a choice not to come back.”

As I sit in the rooftop of a coffee shop in Meknés, Morocco I have just met 19-year-old Souad. She just announced with a wide smile that she had been a college student at the University of Texas of San Antonio for her freshman and sophomore year but was forced to move back to Morocco this summer. Due to the increase of tuition cost on top of paying extra as an international student and her inability to get a job with only a student visa, the expenses added up to be too much. She had to return back home.

Despite her apprehension to return back home to Morocco, she was still able to find the positive aspects of moving back. She was proud to share with me that she had studied American architecture and was now able to share this new knowledge in her Moroccan classes since both countries use different building methods. I found it admirable that Souad chose to find the reasons to rejoice and be positive despite the sudden change of plans she had to make. It makes me wonder if I would have had the same attitude as she did if I were placed in the same situation. Then I wonder if I would’ve even had the courage to move to another country on my own for college in the first place, I’ve struggled with being homesick on this trip that is only 3 weeks…let alone the ten months Souad was away from her family! I don’t think I would’ve lasted in a brand new area on my own for that long and that makes me look up to Souad even more for all she had to endure in the past couple years.

After talking with Souad about her return from the United States, I met 20-year-old Fatma a few days later. In contrast to Souad, Fatma is preparing to move to the States for the first time. She has lived with her mother her whole life but is ready for a new adventure on her own and she too is moving all the way across the world in just a couple months. She was excited to explain to me and my friends that she was surprised to find she got a job with Disney and then even more shocked to find out she was approved for a visa rather quickly. Everything fell into place quite nicely for Fatma and even though she doesn’t know what to expect, she didn’t seem all that nervous talking to us about her big move across the world.

Fatma speaks English fluently and for only have lived in Morocco her entire life, I was curious how she learned conversational English so well. When I asked she responded with pink cheeks and said, “You are going to laugh if I tell you. You won’t believe this but I learned English from watching Hannah Montana.”

Of course we all laughed out of surprise but I was also laughing out of pure amazement. It is crazy to think that a Disney Channel show is what taught her English so well and the fact that she had the discipline and drive to learn it before she even started taking English classes in school is quite remarkable.IMG_7045

I have had the privilege of meeting two Moroccan girls just about the same age as me with two different stories. Two stories that reflect courageous independence and
spirits. I am blown away by the courage that both these girls have. I don’t think I would’ve been brave enough to make such a big move on my own at such a young age (even though I wish I could say I could). I have a deep admiration for both these girls and even though we come from opposite sides of the world, I look up to them for their willingness to take risks and live fearlessly; something I hope to fully attain one day.

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