A Westerner’s Perspective Traveling Abroad: Moroccan Culture at its Finest

April 24, 2013 by Wadii El Maroudi · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Language Learning, Travel 

As a passionate traveler, I’ve spent most of my adult life traveling the world before setting up camp in the United States of America; Washington DC to be more specific.

Going back to Morocco to visit family and friends always seems like a new experience for me. Stepping off the plane right onto the tarmac is always exciting, as is this exotic country awaiting my embrace. As we drive through the hilly mountains of Fes, east towards Kenitra (my childhood hometown), I take in all the beauty surrounding me.  As we make our way closer to our destination, the smell of the sea engulfs the car.

Moroccans are the ‘Kings of Hospitality’. Before I even place my bags on the shining, ceramic tile, I am being offered hot mint tea and fresh fruit. During this visit, a stranger told me once “Moroccans don’t eat to live, we live to eat. ” This proved to be true after being served homemade, steaming hot meals daily at noon. Mealtime is a time for family, friends, laughter and chatter over delicious plates.

Marrakesh, the city I like to refer to as ‘the gem of Morocco,’ was a place of many memories. It’s easy to lose yourself in the narrow, winding streets of the Medina. We could smell the spices in the air, experienced haggling at a local souk, and sipped mint tea in a comfortable café. The four wheeling adventure through the villages outside Marrakesh is always a truly humbling experience.

Moroccans speak Moroccan (locally referred to as Darija), which is a dialect composed of Arabic, French and a bit of Berber – the dialect spoken by native tribes before the Arab arrival.  The written form is Modern Standard Arabic, which is taught in schools and used as the primary media language. Due to the French colonization in the 1950s, French is considered a secondary language.  It’s taught in schools and widely used in foreign affairs. It is also used to accommodate the large French speaking population residing in Morocco.

Morocco has many things the developed world is lacking. A great emphasis is put on time with family and friends. Fresh meals with a variety of comforting ingredients are served at home three times a day. Last, and most importantly as I write this on Earth Week, Morocco values its landscape.  It’s left to grow and beautify the land instead of being paved over as in more developed nations.

Morocco…put it on your bucket list!

 

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

The first International Women’s Day occurred on March 19 in 1911. This event, which included rallies and organized meetings, was a huge success in countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. The March 19 date was chosen because it commemorated the day that the Prussian king promised to introduce votes for women in 1848. The promise gave hope for equality but it was a promise that he failed to keep. The International Women’s Day date was moved to March 8 in 1913.

In Russia, this holiday emerged as a political celebration to symbolize the fight of women from all over the world for their rights, full equality with men, democracy and peace. As the time passed, the political motives of the holiday moved to the background and March 8th simply became a women’s holiday in Russia and other republics of the former USSR.

Festa della Donna (Women’s Day Festival), is celebrated March 8 all over Italy. On this day, men bring flowers to the women in their lives. Many cafes and restaurants have special meals and there are often small local festivals or concerts. Some museums and sites offer free or reduced admission for women.

In the Ukraine, March 8 is celebrated as the holiday of women, spring and love. It is an official day off for both men and women, which was originally introduced by the Communists. Currently, Ukrainian men congratulate their women by giving them flowers, presents and doing the housework by themselves.

In France, in order to celebrate the holidays, Air France designated an all female crew to fly from Paris to Washington. With two pilots and 22 attendants, Air France says that this will be “the largest exclusively female crew in its history.”

In India, over 100 women marched in the capital, New Delhi, calling on the government to do more to protect them.

In South Africa, hundreds of drummers played with the message that violence against women should stop.

Many amazing things happened for women this year. Women in the U.S. won the right to serve on the front lines in combat, the number of women who die in childbirth declined by 50% and the President inched closer to demanding equal pay for men and women. However, according to a current study, 1 in 3 women in the world will be raped in her lifetime and violence against women is still the norm in many countries.

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