Visual Reminders

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We live in a visual world. There is visual stimulation coming at us all the time. Billboards on the street, monitors in the workplace, decorations in the home, and photos shared from travels abroad. I thought a lot about what I would and would not post on social media, how much, and how often. Where is the balance between honoring the experiences and holding them as my own and sharing with my friends and family what I am learning and experiencing. What can they understand? What is better left kept to myself. These are some of the photos that were more deeply personal and decidedly, social media was not the most fitting platform for them to be shared.

IMG_3369We sit in the hospitality of the Imam’s home. Here is where we were challenged and our stereotypes of the “other” were broken down, replaced with an understanding of our brothers and sisters as “people of the book.”

IMG_3350Walking through the souk without our Moroccan friends, I am forced to barter using only my broken Darija. “Bashal Hadi?” I ask. “Hamseen.” The man replies. I know that one, fifty. Fifty dirhams. “Tleteen.” I reply. He looks surprised. He says something that I understand to mean, “did you forget your numbers?!” I giggle. No I didn’t forget my numbers. I did mean thirty. He motions around the rest of the souk and tells me to find any other shop that will offer me a ring this beautiful for less than seventy dirhams. “Moroccan price. For you, for Darija.” Thats when I realize that he has truly given me a fair price for speaking Darija, a task not often overtaken by tourists who have the expectation for Moroccans to speak their language and make things easier for them. “Wakha. Hamseen.” I say. He puts the ring on my finger, and takes my money. “Pslama! Shukran.”

IMG_3218Never have I ever experienced such hospitality as I experienced on the farm. Not knowing ahead of time that we were coming, the family on the farm welcomed us to stay for nearly the entire day. They fed us this breakfast of Milliwi, honey, butter, and olives, everything on the table made from their farm. How can we replicate this hospitality at home?

letusliveThis is my favorite photo taken on the entire trip. It is so simple and yet says so much.  In the United States, we treat Muslims as our most hated minority. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson made recent comments about how a muslim should never be president. We hold “suspected terrorists” at Guantanamo Bay completely skirting their rights given to them by our legal system, and there are countless stories of discrimination, hatred, and even killings of Muslims after 9/11, an event that forever changed how we see Islamic countries and the Middle East. Yet, when we, christians, go to Morocco, we are welcomed with open arms. We are told by strangers on the street that everyone is welcome in Morocco, “Jews and Christians are our brothers.” Why can’t we life together happy as they do?

These photos are powerful to me. But not on their own without their story. They are representations of my experiences, visual reminders.

I will treasure them forever.

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