It’s hard to put experiences into words, but this quote summarizes my trip to Morocco pretty well: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
My trip to Morocco was incredibly eye-opening. I had no expectations going into the trip, but thankfully we took a non-touristic approach and had the opportunity to interact and make friendships with local Moroccans, which allowed me to learn so much more about the culture. The trip left a similar impact on me as my week in Guatemala last summer. Guatemala and Morocco are both so different than the United States in so many aspects; it’s easy to assume that because they are different, that means they are inferior.
Looking from the outside, one might lament people who aren’t fortunate enough to live in the U.S. We do have it pretty great. Most people don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, and we have passports with no limitations on where we can go. But do these privileges equate to happiness? Going to Guatemala this summer I learned our idea of what makes someone happy and successful in the U.S. is extremely skewed. It’s not about constantly growing your wealth, upgrading your cars and homes, and working to the maximum so you can afford a “lifestyle” you think will make you happy. When you take away all the material items, you realize what’s important – family, friends, your personal health and well-being, and that those around you are happy. And in Morocco this was reaffirmed.
We had the opportunity to share a meal with a farmer in a rural village about an hour from Chefchaouen, Morocco. They cooked us Couscous (which was not an easy feat for the size of the appetites in our group – mine alone) and welcomed us into their home. Looking from the outside, it’s easy to think that they aren’t happy because they don’t have modern conveniences that we are accustomed to, but talking to them it was obvious their happiness hasn’t suffered. They didn’t have everything, but they had enough, and they were in fact happy. And after talking to them, it made me realize that we aren’t all that different from each other. A quote from the dad said it best: “We are all humans. And there are good and bad humans everywhere.”
We also made friendships with students and young professionals in Rabat, Morocco. Once again finding similarities between yourself and someone halfway across the world just reaffirms the fact that we’re not all that different from each other. In fact, some of them have the same sarcastic humor that I do and one of my favorite quotes was “We don’t have Netflix, we just chill.” LOL
Yes, I know it’s crazy to think people can live somewhere besides the U.S. and still have live a happy life. What insanity!
It is so simple, though. We are all people!! We laugh, we cry, we love, we EAT, we sleep, and we are all doing the best we can. Everyone is different in their personalities, their passions, their experiences, etc., but we are all the same when it comes down to the fact we are all human. How can we make judgments and group together people we have never met and never even spoken to?
I urge you all to do your research, to travel, to witness things firsthand – and THEN form your OWN opinion. It’s fine to have an opinion different than those around you, as long as you are making that opinion on a firsthand basis, not going off what the media or someone on social media tells you. And just keep in mind; someone on the other side of the world might be more similar to you than you think.
“The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being like you. They are unique manifestations of the human spirit.” – Wade Davis
By Sam Areman, University of Nebraska- Lincoln