Almost immediately upon arriving in Morocco, something significant stood out to me- the strong sense of community. As we drove into the city of Casablanca late Sunday night after landing, I noticed that there were many people outside hanging out. This stood out to me because it was getting later into the night, and it was a Sunday. I remember commenting on how many people were out at the time and even checking my phone to see what time it was to gauge the hour of activity. I wondered what they were doing and why there were so many people out, but they didn’t seem to be doing anything in particular, just walking, sitting and talking, playing soccer, etc., all just ultimately hanging out with one another.
After that first night, many more examples of community stood out to me, and I was able to understand it better during one of the farm tours. The farmer told us how all the neighboring farmers in the area look after each other, leaning on one another for advice, extra labor, or anything they may need. He went into detail and explained that he had two wells on the farm for irrigation, but he only used one of them. And one day his neighbor asked if he could use the other for his crops, and the farmer agreed. When asked if the neighbor paid a fee for the use, the farmer was quick to say no. He said he would never do something like that, because no one would do that to him. That’s just not how things are done. He told us about the special relationship amongst the people of the community, and how everyone will need help at one point or another, so that is just simply what they do for each other. If you don’t help others, then you will get any help when you need it. That conversation made me realize how deep the roots truly run for each other, and how inherent this caringness is. The cultural difference of sharing, reaching out, and giving others the time and resources of your own is often very different to how we live in the United States. Moroccans deep rooted care and respect for one another is noticeable and contagious!