Here’s Looking at You…(Or What I’m Thankful for This Year)

This year I’m thankful for a whole litany of things I’ve never thought to be thankful for. Beyond the usual list. Like hot showers and central heating. Or really, the ability to turn on your faucet and have hot water come out, or turn up a thermostat because you have one in your home.

But moreover serving as a Peace Corps volunteer has made me appreciate the place, people, government, and culture that sent me to Morocco in the first place.

I’m looking at you America.

8 months in Morocco has reminded me that I love take out from my favorite Indian place or hitting up the taco truck with my best friend after a lousy day of rejection letters and boyfriends. I love having choices.

Its reminded me that I love the company of America’s charged, overeating sports fans, its plethora of Goodwill’s and Value Villages, its IPA’s, and its crazy right and left wing politicians and their followers.

I love the gumption of the state of Texas. The ‘awe’ of a place like New York City. And did I mention that I’m dying to see the Midwest? North Dakota specifically, where my Grandma is from.

I’m thankful for Johnny Cash and Ben Gibbard. Ann Curry and Billie Holiday.

And I’m thankful for all the things I’ve realized are rare in developing countries. Things like encouragement of creativity, critical thinking in schools, secularism, equal rights, appreciation of diversity, etc. I think the survival aspect of life in developing countries like Morocco precludes most people from indulging in these privileges.

And yet, I’m thankful for the opportunity to live as an American in Morocco.

I think all Americans ought to experience life abroad and all that it entails. The packing up one’s life. The goodbyes. The suspension. The giving of oneself fully to an unknown place. The uncertainty, whether overwhelming or exhilarating. The willingness to get sick, physically and emotionally.

Because the bonds I’ve formed with people during my time here, with people whose language I’ve learned not to boost future employment with the State Department (Let’s get real. When am I ever going to speak Darija or Tamazight on a consistent basis, not in Morocco?), but instead for the sole purpose of speaking with them, have become some of the most heartfelt connections I’ve ever made with human beings.

My heart is more open here. The complexities and intensity of my emotions are more readily felt (or I’m just becoming bipolar). I think overall, what I serve to gain in the midst of this Peace Corps adventure is a braveness and an empathy and a vulnerability that I would not be afforded in the midst of my cluttered American life.

And for that, I’m looking at you Morocco.

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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