Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Old Friends and New Friends

Before Justin and I left for Morocco, we spent a lot of time with our old friends. We had a two week-long NYC tour, we took a road trip along the east coast, we even threw ourselves a grand goodbye party with our New York friends. And we took a piece of our friends with us - Here's a picture of our wall which is covered with cards, pictures, and memories of our time back in the U.S.

I didn't really know what to expect in terms of forming relationships in Morocco. I knew that we would be expected to integrate, to get to know a community and to form relationships with counterparts to help plan activities... I didn't know what that meant in terms of friendships. But after 18 months of living in Morocco, I have been able to form real, true friendships with some people in my community. And when I leave Morocco, I will be overjoyed to return to the friends that I have left behind in the U.S. but will also be incredibly sad to leave these wonderful people who have become such an important part of my life.

The last week has really intertwined this idea of old friends and new friends. Last week, one of my closest friends of more than 18 years, Ellis, came to Morocco along with her boyfriend Alex. They drove far out of their way to spend 2 days with Justin and me and it meant so much to get to spend time together in our home. Ellis now lives in Portugal, and it was also really interesting to discuss our similar experiences in being ex-pats and in creating new relationships and learning a new language and culture. Here's Ellis and me from then and now - nothing has really changed :)

A few days after Ellis left, I planned a program for girls and women along with one of my closest friends here, Riham. Riham shares my belief in the importance of giving women a safe space to speak and to express themselves and we created a program together about dreams, goals, and obstacles. Getting to work with Riham on the program and to share our own dreams, goals, and obstacles was really inspiring and brought us even closer together. The program was truly amazing and I think that Riham has been inspired to do more good work in the community. I certainly hope to do more with her in my remaining few months here and I can't wait to see what she will be able to accomplish in the future for the women of Morocco. Here's a picture of Riham and me, and a few other photos from our women's event:

I'm so thankful and happy for both the new and the old friends in my life, and that I've been able to create new relationships where we can teach and learn from one another!

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