One of my favorite parts about my job at Feminin Pluriel was the wide variety of students that I got to work with and invest in... Everything from 6 year old beginners to astrophysicists seeking to improve their writing abilities for their PhD dissertations! It was through my work at the center that I met Noureddine, a computer designer in my advanced conversation class. In class, I could always count on Nourredine to have a smile on his face and a profound point to make during discussion. One day after class in late June, I was joking around with my students after a great dialogue about international wedding traditions, saying how it was my dream to go to a Moroccan wedding. Noureddine perked up, and said that he actually had a friend getting married after Ramadan, and if I and the other volunteer wanted to go, he would happily take us along!
Almost a month later, Demi (the other volunteer) and I found ourselves in complete shock at the overwhelming amount of generosity our dear student showed us in making my dream come true. After spending his whole day with us adventuring together around the city, Noureddine introduced us to his sister and her beautiful family, where Demi and I were quickly named honorary tantes, the French word for aunts, to his sweet niece Amira. After his wonderful brother-in-law picked us up and brought us to their apartment, Noureddine’s lovely sister Kawtar loaned each of us two of her beautiful caftans and helped us get ready for our very first Moroccan wedding! She even helped us prepare our gift for the bride and groom!
For the first time, Demi and I felt like we were part of a family here, the value of which is simply insurmountable when you have been living far away from home for so long.
But the story doesn’t end there. At the wedding, a most assuredly exhausted Noureddine introduced us to his friends, took pictures, and kindly watched over our purses as we dove headfirst into one of the most authentic cultural experiences of my life thus far. Fun fact: traditional Moroccan weddings start at 9:00 P.M. and last until about 5:00 A.M. (So yes, we were quite literally dancing all night long.) The bride entered the venue for the first time with her groom at around 11:00 in a beautiful white caftan. The couple would exit and re-enter the space four times, sporting a different ensemble every time. Pictured below you can see the bride in her brilliant blue, yellow, and green caftans, though red is another color often added into the mix. Though each entrance serves a purpose, I thought the most profound was that of the groom’s family, following their third entrance, to present them with wedding gifts. It was so cool to see the whole family have such an outward role in the ongoing ceremony!
As those of you who know me well will not be surprised to hear, I spent 90% of my time making friends on the dance floor. I was quickly adopted by Noureddine’s friend Houda, and we had a blast dancing together with her other friends! I didn’t even realize how much time had past when it came time to leave! But eventually, Noureddine retrieved Demi and I from the dance floor to go back to his sister’s house, where we slept over after one of the most incredible and surreal nights of my life.
Nneedless to say, Noureddine went so far out of his way to give his curious teachers a glimpse into the Morocco that few foreigners ever get to see, and for that I am forever grateful. Though classes at the center have ended for the summer, I know that no matter where I go, I will always treasure the friendships I made with people like Noureddine, who have not only changed my perspective of Morocco, but changed my perspective of cross cultural dialogue overall!
For my final three weeks, I will be teaching at another center in the neighborhood. Though my heart will always be with Feminin Pluriel, I am excited to engage with a new demographic of students and invest in their studies of English all the same. And as I prepare for the last leg of my time abroad, I must say I have some awfully exciting posts in the works for those of you kindly following along back home. But I want to know... Are there any questions you have that you’d like me to address in an upcoming post? Let me know if so!