Written by CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer Ms. Cecile Niyimenya (a Rwandan Exchange Volunteer serving in Morocco)
It all started when I knew that I was deployed to Tata. I was so excited because it is a province that is different from all the places I have visited in Morocco so far. Everything started changing when I left Marrakech to begin the 10-hour journey to Tata. Beginning this journey was when I really felt “Oh my God” and I realized that this was another time leaving my comfort zone, like when I left my country, Rwanda. I felt in my heart that the journey was already starting to challenge me and teach me new things. Honestly, I was afraid, and I couldn’t sleep on the bus because I was so excited to see exactly where we were heading.
Before heading to my site, I spent some time with my colleagues in the small city of Tata. I was impressed by the city, which is clean but hot. I visited one of the cooperatives that grows dates and produces a lot of other products. I was impressed by how the people working in the cooperative used their own resources to produce so many things. They gave me a gift of some of their products (my second time tasting dates!) and from that moment I started feeling like people from Tata are welcoming people.
Finally the time came for me to travel to my site, Asmlil Village, where I met beautiful and caring people. Even though I couldn’t speak their local language, I still felt their warm welcome. As the days went by I learned more about the local language, but for the first few days it was difficult. Sometimes I felt so frustrated because I couldn’t communicate with them in Tashelheit, which made me so sad and caused me to begin doubting that I could do it.
One day I didn’t have a good enough network connection to use Google translate and I cried in my room. I began thinking about what to do, so I called some of my colleagues, who gave me a lot of ideas on how to face my language challenge. I started using many different strategies to communicate, and even though it is still not perfect, Alhamdulillah, it has improved. The one thing I promised myself is that I won’t give up!
In Asmlil the community produces a lot of dates, so now I taste dates every day! They also use the leaves from the date trees to produce handicrafts. Overall I really enjoy living in this village.