Thank You, Mohammed

Today I battled a case of the mean reds.

(See Breakfast at Tiffany’s).

I am happy. Just about the happiest I’ve been since arriving in Morocco. In fact sometimes I think, “Damn, I’ve got just about the coolest job in the entire world.” But I am my father’s daughter. Which for explanations sake, means that I worry. I’m also a product of Jesuit education, which I means that I question. A lot.

I worry about the impact I’m making here. If I’m making one at all. I question whether my work here is really valuable. I question the narcissm of a country like the United States sending its people to developing countries (and then I remember Goal 3). I worry about my work. Will my projects get off the ground? How the hell am I going to do the things I want to do? Will attendence at my classes pick up? Man it sucks that the Dar Chebab is so inactive.

And then I feel sorry for myself. Like today.

I trudged across the rocky, dirt path that I use as a shortcut to my Dar Chebab, through the grazing sheep, thinking to myself that I really didn’t want to go to the Dar Chebab this afternoon. But as I passed into the green gates of the Dar Chebab, I spied Mohammed.

Mohammed is one of my most dedicated students. He’s 16, but you’d probably guess 13 if you saw him. He comes to Dar Chebab even when I don’t have a class scheduled. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we play games, and today I helped him with his English homework.

He’s pretty shy so it amazes me that he still comes. Most of the time I ask all the questions.

What did you eat for lunch today? How are your sisters? Did you watch the soccer match?

I make most of the statements too.

Confiture fraise (strawberry jam) is better then confiture mish mash (apricot jam). I like your scarf. I am reading this book about…

Today I gave Mohammed a brochure about a program called AMIDEAST, for Moroccan students who’d like to study in the United States for a year. His face lit up.

Mohammed is downright awesome. Easily my favorite person in town. Maybe even Morocco.

He is why I do what I do. Why I’m here. My friendship with Mohammed transcends my worries about what activities I’ll have to report on my VRF (Volunteer Report Form) and the techincal aspects of service in the Peace Corps that bog me down.

Beccause it’s about people for me. If 20,30,40 years from now Mohammed looked back on our time together and thought, “I knew an American once. She was kind of wierd. And she talked a lot. But she was nice and she helped me with English.”- I’d be thrilled. Who knows maybe we’ll even stay in contact?

It’d be difficult to explain to Mohammed how much I appreciate his presence in my life. Words, especially Darija ones, sometimes fail me. So I say ‘thank you,’ both here on the blog and in real life when I say ‘goodbye.’

And now, because I feel like breaking every rule I’ve ever been taught about English writing, mechanics, cliches, do’s and don’ts, etc. I’m going to leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou. Like the lyrics to a good song, her words adequately express how I’m feeling right now.

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

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Filed under Being Thankful, Life, Morocco, Musings, Peace Corps, People

10 responses to “Thank You, Mohammed

  1. wow! that is beautiful! thx, it helps!

  2. exactly what I needed today! Thank you Mel!

  3. David

    Speaking of how you make people feel, this made me feel a little better. I’m going through some trials at the moment, but, at least today, I have hope that I’ll find a way through them.

    • postgradmel

      I believe in you David. You’re doing a good thing. P.S.- Add “Teache Man” to your list of books to read. Irish American Frank McCourt teaches for 30 years in NYC public schools. It’s hilarious, and I bet you’d find a few things in common with him. :)

  4. You are exactly right – it’s your impact on individuals that will make the difference. So no worries!

  5. this MADE MY DAY. heading to morocco with PC in Jan. LOVE reading your thoughts/feelings/sharings. THANK YOU!

    • postgradmel

      I’m glad! If you’re on Facebook, we have a group ‘Peace Corps Morocco’ that you should join! It’s mostly current PCV’s but there are a few from your incoming staj as well. Let me know if you have any questions or anything! Enjoy this time with your family and friends!

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