Who does this land really belong to?

I have been a Kansas resident my entire life; this being the case, I have not grown up around quite as much diversity as many other Americans in my generation have-especially those from larger urban areas where such diversity is generally more welcomed. Don’t get me wrong, I love my state. It’s my home and it will always be very special to me, but I see examples of partiality based on race all the time. Recently in McPherson an Indian family has become the owners of several hotels and gas stations around town. No big deal right? I didn’t think so, so when I saw them in the gas station I conversed with them about where they were from and briefly talked to them about my love for travel. I found out that we had a lot in common. Frankly I think the man was shocked that a white person actually wanted to have a conversation with him that entailed more than just how much money was owed for gas or what type of cigarette pack to bring down from the shelf. Similarly I recently went into a new little place across from the movie theater called “Flora Azul” that obviously catered to a more Hispanic variety than myself. My first tip off was when I asked the guy behind the counter what his hours were he simply replied, “yes.” I used my very limited Spanish to gather that the store was open from 10 to 6. They had a great selection of homemade tortillas, assorted vegetables and custom piñatas which I readily indulged in all but the latter.

For some reason a lot of people around here seem to have it in their minds that if your grandparents weren’t raised here, if you’re last name isn’t Unruh, Schultz or Clark, or even if you’re not blatantly Caucasian (yeah, I said it) then you have no right to run a business or be successful in this town. Could it be that this world is bigger than the 13,396 people who reside in McPherson? Would it really be so bad if some ethnically diverse families moved into town and joined the nearly 94% white population to show us what their traditions and customs are like? Maybe we could even go so incredibly far as to actually show outsiders some hospitality, show them OUR customs and try to get to know them as people! Maybe that’s just one little part of what we are supposed to be doing when we reach out as the church. Think about what America was like before European conquistadors gobbled up the West centuries ago, what Australia was like before England started pushing Aborigines into the western deserts, or before England once again began westernizing much of Sub-Saharan Africa. The land which we live on today never belonged to us, and maybe it doesn’t really belong to any one specific ethnic group. I think we would do very well in cooperating with one another and realizing that every person created in the image of God has value whether he is a 5th generation McPherson native working hard to feed his family or a Vietnamese immigrant new to town searching for a better life so that he can take care of his own. If we show respect to people because they are people, then chances are good that they are going to show respect right back to us. Even if they don’t, we can take solace in the fact that we have done the right thing. What’s more reassuring than that?

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My Bus Station Friend

Arabic yesterday was just abysmal. I am so grateful that today is my last session (except for the final tomorrow). I don’t think I’m going to continue it when I get back to the US, and I am very OK with that. Whenever school ends, regardless of whether it was a good semester or a bad semester, its always a good feeling.

On a happier note, I have my hostel all booked in Rome!! Now I just have to find a way to get to the airport on Saturday. Apparently if I take a taxi its going to cost me 600DH. That’s almost a hundred bucks! No way. There must be a cheaper way. CTM bus? Get my host dad to drive me? The problem is that Casablance is a little more than an hour from Rabat. I don’t want him going out of his way, especially when he a) picked me up from the bus station at 5AM on Sunday and b) already went to Casablanca once this week to pick up a relative visiting from Canada. I know how unpleasant that many hours on the road in a week can be.

Oh yeah, also, speaking of the bus station at 5am. So, I asked my host dad to pick me up at five, and since Pete is staying with my host dad’s brother, he usually gets a ride as well. So anyway, the bus got in at 4:30 instead of 5 so we had a good half hour to kill waiting for our ride… Some Moroccan guy nonchalantly asked for the time, in French, so I showed him what time it was on my phone, and he asked if I spoke French, and unfortunately I said yes… so, for the next half hour, this guy talked “our” ears off (really, just mine because Pete couldn’t understand) about every topic under the sun. I couldn’t tell if he was drunk, because he didn’t smell like alcohol, but the way he was jumping from topic to topic was so strange that I didn’t think he was thinking normally. Anyway, first, he said that his dad was in Europe (or something; I couldn’t really understand) and asked Pete and I over to his place to hang out. So awkward. I told him we were waiting for our uncle. He asked if I was married to Pete. Again, I should have said yes, because then he might have left us alone. When he found out I was single, he was like half-hitting on me, half-asking me to convert to Islam. The whole conversation was just very strange. He told me all about how he smokes and he knows he shouldn’t, but when he dies he’s getting a new body and it all won’t matter. Then he started talking about how Nicolas Sarkozy is nothing more than a janitor who picks up the trash off the street. Stream of conciousness. FINALLY after, again, half an hour of listening to this guy talk about nothing in particular, he went off to his apartment which was “really, just two blocks from here, I swear,” and left us in peace. We were finally picked up and made it home. This guy was just really strange.

Midweek Adventure!

So today after class we went over to Salé, which is directly across the river from Rabat, making the two almost like one city–or so it says geographically. Realistically, Salé is like a poor man’s version of Rabat. Also it smelled like garbage. I won’t be going back. However, I did get an amazing t-shirt. But wait! Let’s tell the story in pictures!

Check out those colors! Ready to cross the river!
Check out those colors! Ready to cross the river!
Luckily the Boat Guy didn't let Rajae drive...
Luckily the Boat Guy didn't let Rajae drive...
On-board snack? I wonder how long those have been there...
On-board snack? I wonder how long those have been there...

Now, most of Salé’s medina was like the dollar-general version of… any other medina I have been to on this trip, which was a real disappointment because I was prepared to load up on gifts for family and friends back home. But I didn’t because… I wasn’t in the market for used remote controls or knockoff sunglasses.

...but they had AWESOME fabric
...but they had AWESOME fabric.
A poor woman was selling colored chicks for 1DH each. That's her living.
A poor woman was selling colored chicks for 1DH each. That's how she makes her living.

Since the bus from school–boat across the river–walking several miles ordeal to get to the Salé medina took us almost two hours, we opted on getting a taxi for the way back. But there were six of us. Problem?

...no problem! Four in the back and two in the front (plus driver) is perfectly acceptable!
...no problem! Four in the back and two in the front (plus driver) is perfectly acceptable!

After the taxi we took another bus to school, then I took yet another bus home. It has been a bus-y day! (See what I did there? Its a pun.)

Also, today is July 7th! I have officially been in Morocco for one month. Seems like wayyy longer than a month though!