Marie Troutman, Assistant Leader
I am so excited to meet all of you and experience Moroccan life together! My first few moments in Fes, hearing the call to prayer while waiting for my scalding hot, sweet mint tea to cool down, are some of my most vivid memories.
Morocco is a colorful swirl of action, and my favorite times there were when I simply got swept up in their way of life. I have attended weddings, been taken on secret tours through the medina, and been invited into countless homes and family occasions. Moroccans are eager to share their lives with newcomers, and I know we will be greeted with graciousness and warmth everywhere we go. You can look forward to making many friends in Morocco and through these friendships you will become deeply connected to a foreign country. My experiences also helped me to appreciate the forces of human reality that are not culture-bound, our hopes as people to connect, accept, and teach each other.
I graduated in May from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Arabic and Linguistics, focusing on intercultural communication. I began my study of Arabic in 2006, and while I was initially interested in it as a language, that enthusiasm quickly expanded into a desire to understand the culture, which I was able to do through classes on Islam and Arab history. I was also lucky enough to be exposed to some French at an early age and have studied it for many years through high school and college, which certainly enriched and informed my understanding of communication between cultures.
During the summer of 2007 I was lucky enough to participate in a UMW program through which I was placed in a homestay in Fes. In high school I had a foreign exchange student brother from Germany, so I was familiar with the homestay experience and really enjoyed being on the other side of it. Living in a homestay means that every moment of your life becomes part of your cultural education, which is a wonderful feeling! On that trip, I also had the wonderful opportunity to study at ALIF, visit Marrakesh, Casablanca, and the Sahara, so I am familiar with many of the particular joys and challenges that we will experience together.
There is so much joy and many eye-opening experiences to be gained through travel, and I am happy that you have chosen to come with us as we make our world just a little bit bigger!