makethislast

SIDA activity at Ha Draa sbitar

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on December 5, 2010

Everybody is where they’re supposed to be; eventually everybody gets to where they’re being expected.

– J. Saramago

I’m so proud of PCV Murphys for organizing today’s SIDA activity at the sbitar in Ha Draa. I think it’s safe to say that the PCVs as well as the HCNs who participated in the event left feeling positive about how the event went. Go Mary for using blood pressure readings as a stealth means of getting people, mainly men, educated on SIDA.

Taxi ride home: A local musician from my douar was singing about a chicken being sold. Surely right after poking fun at me for being a taromit. But it’s okay. He acknowledged me for working at the sbitar and helping his wife and child. Small successes, folks, it’s all about the small successes.

Note to self: I want to volunteer (again) when I return to the US. There’s something about sharing a skill/imparting knowledge with someone for free who otherwise would not be able to learn or do that connects me with the local, organic part of a community that I love so much. The ability to do that for someone else is priceless. The experience and humility acquired from that experience is even more priceless.

Now, for the topic that’s been eating at me for the last few days: racial harassment! Yes, Morocco is quite good at dishing this out. (Yes, I suppose I’m still venting, so take this with a grain of salt. Good people do exist in Morocco.)

“Rip open my skin and tear it off,” I want to say to Moroccans sometimes when I find myself in a funk largely caused by the racial harassment I experience here on a regular basis.

I’m over this, this external appearance problem you seem to have. The fact that all you see is my ethnic features. The fact that you don’t think your collective actions affect me. I love the way I look but apparently you have a problem with it so take my skin, take my outer appearance as I work on improving the person within. You clearly have more issues with what you see on the outside than I do.

While walking through Hadraa’s souk, somehow the conversation topic got to: “If you could be reincarnated, what would you change about yourself?”

I’d change nothing, absolutely nothing about myself. Why?

It’s not only because I love my family and who they’ve made me. Selfishly or not, I wouldn’t change anything about myself because, quite frankly, being a non-white non-Moroccan has been such a uniquely humbling and indescribable experience here. All the harassment here makes me think that much more about those who once were and currently do experience such blatant discrimination in their real life. I think about the gender-segregated culture that exists in Morocco and I count my blessings that these large doses of blatant harassment on a regular basis are only for two years and not my entire life.

Racial harassment. You don’t see it from the outside but it causes a psychological impact on its victims. I’ve notice my response or reaction evolve other the nine months. While I tried to ignore it with a hint of humor in the beginning, I notice myself giving dirty looks as I walk by and try to ignore the aggressor. I don’t like that. I don’t want to end up with a permanent dirty look on my face as a result of this.

I wonder whether this hyperawareness of my “exotic” features will be something I take back with me after two years in Morocco. Will I carry it like an extra bag when I go outside in the US? Or will I be able to discard this alongside my worn out clothes after two years’ worth of wear and tear? Will I be able to leave this identity label in Morocco as I step onto the plane back to America?

Oh Peace Corps, oh Morocco…you are proving to be a test in more than one way for so many of life’s lessons. The jig is up – serving in PC is everything and nothing like I imagined. “The hardest job you’ll ever love…the hardest job you’ll ever love…” rings so true. As crazy as I sound, I do still love this. Yes, even after ranting about racial harassment as being one of if not the hardest hurdles that I’ve ever had to overcome in life thus far.

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