By Anna Rose, NSLI-Y Morocco, Summer 2015
“بنتي الأمريكية” is how my host parents introduce me to their relatives and friends. When they say this, they always smile, for it means “my American daughter.” Over the past few weeks, I have really gotten to know my Moroccan family and, this past weekend, I had the honor of celebrating Eid al-Fitr with them. It was quite an interesting experience to await the end of Ramadan with the rest of Morocco, partly because none of us knew exactly when Eid would take place. The end of Ramadan depends solely on the moon, and therefore there was much speculation over whether it would occur on Friday or Saturday. Thursday evening, my host family gathered around the television, waiting for an announcement. Just like a tornado or flash flood warning, a message scrolled across the bottom of the screen, notifying us that there would be one more day of Ramadan. I found it interesting that, although Saudi Arabia’s Eid would take place the next day, Morocco would not plan accordingly. Nevertheless, Friday would be a holiday for Moroccans everywhere.
On my way to school the next morning, the streets were silent and nearly empty. However, being the eve of Eid, everyone was out by the late afternoon, doing last-minute shopping in preparation for the big day. That night, I had the pleasure of meeting my host mother’s family. Although I had trouble communicating at times, I was glad to realize that I had learned who everyone was in relation to my mom. I really enjoyed meeting more of the family, and I learned that some of them had traveled across the country to be here for the special day.
The next day, I had the luxury of sleeping in (Alhamdulillah!). Later, I would get to meet more of my host dad’s family. As I was about to get ready, my mom called my name. She walked in with a bright, beautiful djellaba that she had picked out for me. For Eid, it is customary to wear new clothes for the event, and I was overjoyed by this kind and unexpected gesture. Everyone looked their best that day, and I loved seeing other people on the street dressed to the nines- Moroccan style. That afternoon, we had a delicious tagine of chicken and couscous. I also had the opportunity to talk with other relatives in Arabic. I soon found that their English greatly surpassed my Darijia, but it was nice to get more feedback on my speaking skills.
It also was fun to learn that the people around my age there had a strong interest in travelling to the U.S. When asked where they would like to go in America, most of them replied ‘Miami’ or ‘Las Vegas.’ Although I tried to encourage them to go to Texas, they smiled and said “too hot!” Nevertheless, when I told them they were welcome in Dallas any time, they were quite thrilled, and they considered this a great gesture. I loved getting to spend the holiday surrounded by family.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted but incredibly happy with the new connections I had made. I am so glad to have had the opportunity to experience Ramadan, as well as Eid al-Fitr, in the fabulous city of Rabat.