Not Your Average Lecture
Located in northern Africa, the city of Rabat seemed to welcome the Hillsborough Community College family with magnificent sights and extraordinarily inviting smells. Flanked by thick city walls, which tower high in roofless memory of a fraught past, Rabat offered us a charm of magic and intrigue. As we toured the souqs (bazaars) and lost ourselves in the vast labyrinths of merchandise, we came to know Morocco both as a country with a complicated, layered history and as one that speaks to its visitors with a voice of seductive charm.
This summer, HCC students traveled to Rabat, Morocco as part of an Interdisciplinary Studies class. In a well-coordinated combination of cultural learning, serving learning, and historical study, students and professors learned about Moroccan life first-hand through a short and comfortable eight-day stay at Cross-Cultural Solutions’ humble volunteer Home-Base.
With the help of Community Colleges for International Development (CCID), Cross-Cultural Solutions, and the HCC Foundation, Hillsborough Community College students have been offering their services in communities of need around the world for the past three years. They have worked in the beautification process of schools, taught the deaf in preparation for standard testing, cared for the physically disabled, and have taught English to willing learners.
At home in the quiet quarters of Hay Riad, our Cross-Cultural Solutions hosts indulged us in culinary excursions, teaching us the art of Morocco’s famous tagine chicken and the all-important tradition of sharing tea. Our evenings sometimes gave us an opportunity to speak casually with our hosts--learning about the Moroccan culture of Islam and listening to perspectives often unvoiced in the US. From these lectures and talks we became fueled with questions that left us with a need for more.
And we learned still more as we served the community in hospitals, orphanages, and language centers; as we met friends; as we learned about daily life; and as we lived the daily life. Our time spent in Morocco meant that we met mentors, that we had been mentors, and that we were coming home having engaged in a history and a people from the very personal lens of experience.
It has been months now since our return and the end of our class, but we continue to look thankfully on the challenges we embraced and the relationships we made, knowing that we are part of a community of willing mentors and curious travelers.