On July fourth, iEARN NSLI-Y Morocco students organized an Independence Day celebration. The students met a week before to decide the menu and were provided a budget to purchase the ingredients they needed from the local market and grocery store. They split into groups, including the public relations committee (creating flyers to invite other students at the language school), the guacamole committee, the hamburger committee, the corn committee, and the chocolate chip cookies committee. While at the market, the students practiced their Arabic by ordering the meat for the burgers, weighing the produce, and interacting with the cashier. They were further able to practice their Arabic vocabulary as they began cooking and baking with the help of the wonderful kitchen staff at Qalam Wa Lawh, their language school.
The students agreed to celebrate the fourth of July in the evening so that their Moroccan friends and teachers could also enjoy the food when breaking their fast for Ramadan. They decided to call the event the “4th of Djellaba.” A djellaba is a traditional Moroccan dress worn by both men and women. A few of the students went out to the medina before the event to purchase red, white and blue djellabas for the occasion. The party, which was fully led by the NSLI-Y group, was a great success. Qalam Wa Lawh was filled with lively music, American and Moroccan food, and Arabic kitchen vocabulary. To top the night off, the students screened the movie “National Treasure” outdoors. The students all agreed that it was a very memorable fourth of July for them and they were grateful to have the opportunity to share their culture with Moroccans. They appreciated the melding of Morocco and America during this event and enjoyed incorporating aspects of the U.S. into a classic Ramadan evening.
Below is an excerpt from one of the students, Amanda:
“Fun fact: Morocco was the first country to recognize the USA as an independent nation. Independence Day is the one day of my Moroccan experience that I really, really wish I could be at home (this wasn’t helped by the plethora of parade/BBQ/fireworks snapchats I received). Despite this, though, our little NSLI-Y group planned a pretty good party, and it ended up being a really great day. For lunch we went to Pizza Hut (there’s no P sound in Arabic, so here it’s ‘Bizza Hut’), one of the extremely few restaurants open at midday during Ramadan…but after that we got to work. Despite it being a strictly American party, a concession was made and guacamole was the star item on the menu. Tracking down avocados and lemons in the souk was a challenge, but luckily my fellow students have really strong feelings about guacamole and were very valiant in procuring the ingredients and then making the perfect blend. Our iftaar ended up consisting of chips and guac, cheeseburgers, corn, soda, and–harira, the tomato-lentil soup I eat literally every single night (Did I mention that it was on the menu at Bizza Hut?!). Other students from Qalam showed up as well… At the end of the night we watched–what else–“National Treasure.” It definitely wasn’t the traditional fourth I’ve had every year before, but I know I’ll always remember screaming the words to “God Bless The USA” with these kids, and I can definitely say it was an Independence Day well spent.”