There are a number of topics we're advised to avoid: Politics, Religion, and the "Western Sahara". I put the last in quotations because that name does not exist here. Of course, they do come up. My host uncle really, really wanted me to explain why Christian priests can't get married. I tried to tell him that there are tons of different kinds of Christians and I don't really know anything about it anyway. This is sort of how the conversation went:
I said to him, "you know, like there are different kinds of Muslims."
He said, "there are different kind of Muslims?"
"Yeah, like, over in Iraq and stuff"
"what do you mean?"
host brother: "oh he means like sunni and shi'ia"
host uncle "no, they aren't muslims, we have Mohamed here, they don't"
host brother: "you eat dinner now?"
I decided to tell my host brother I'm not really Christian, or Muslim, or really anything. This is difficult to understand for him because America means Christian. Many volunteers advise us to simply lie about religious affiliations if we aren't Christian or Muslim, to avoid religious discrimination and harassment over converting. I decided, screw it. I'm not going to present myself as something I'm not. I'll just call it cultural exchange. I did enjoy having a conversation with a girl who came up to me and started talking to me in Oujda. It went like this (her mostly in english, me mostly in darija):
"you speak english?"
"yes, I'm from America"
"I love the English"
"What you do here?"
"I'm here for two years as a volunteer in ------ working at the Dar Shabab and teaching English"
"Oh, are you Muslim?"
"are you christian?"
"what are you?"
"how do you live?"
me: "let me ask you something; are your parents muslim?"
"that's why you're muslim. My parents aren't really Christians and that's why I'm not really Christian"
"I like the way you speak"
"you have the facebook?"
"I have to go now. Nice to meet you. bye"
My host brother has given me 2 books on the life of Mohamed. They're in Arabic so I can't read them. It is important to me to show you can be a volunteer and attempting to help and not be a person "of the book" so to speak.
As for politics, it's unavoidable. It is cool though to hang out with University of Oujda students (moroccan and algerian) who are discussing the presidential run-off in Egypt.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, nor any other governmental or non-governmental organization.
Nor is anything written here necessarily drawn from my own views, opinions, and observations. Please consider all postings and pictures complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality. For legal purposes, please additionally regard the author as utterly imaginary.
The views, opinions, and observations expressed in this journal are my own and in no way reflect the views, opinions, or policy of the Peace Corps, Peace Corps Morocco, governmental or non-governmental organizations.
Nor is anything written here necessarily my own views, opinions, or observations. Please consider all pictures and texts here to be complete fabrications with absolutely no bearing on reality, this one or any other. For legal purposes, please additionally consider the author to be utterly imaginary.