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Alex Norman

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Somehow, I only just realized that I have not provided any clarification regarding what this particular blog is about, let alone about who I am (this is, of course, mainly for those of you reading the blog whom I have not had the chance to meet). To right this wrong, here’s a bit about me:

Salaam! Salut!

My name is Alexandra (Alex) Norman and I am a junior and an anthropology major at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA, though I am currently studying in Rabat, Morocco with the Fall 2011 SIT Morocco: Multiculturalism and Human Rights program. When asked why I chose Morocco, I usually give these two main reasons:

1. I get pretty giddy over languages in general, and in Morocco I get to practice three foreign languages: French, Darija (Moroccan Arabic), and Fus’ha (Standard Arabic).

2. I spent a semester in France in Fall 2007 (corresponding to my first semester as a junior in high school, coincidentally), and ever since then I’ve wanted to study abroad again, preferably in a Francophone country. I also thought, however, that I really ought to take advantage of spending a semester on my own in a place where I would be unlikely to spend three and a half months in the foreseeable future, and given my complete unfamiliarity with Morocco I thought that it might do the trick!

So here I am. I’m now well into my second month in Morocco and I am already overwhelmed (admittedly, almost to the point of writer’s block) by the number of blog-worthy experiences I’ve had since I’ve been here. To narrow down the subject matter of this blog, I’m going to attempt to create a kind of online album of people I’ve met in my travels here. I would also like to incorporate any communicational struggles and how I overcome them into my album, since I see this as being a particularly useful reference tool for those considering studying (or even just spending some vacation time) abroad. I hope that this blog will assuage some fears about off-campus studies, as well as serve as a frank and personal: and hopefully engaging: account of a young American abroad.

Also, it’s still somewhat early in the program, but already I am a bit concerned about what I can do to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between me and my host country. For now, I’d like to spread the word about the UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality, an organization that has been working closely with Moroccan citizens in recent months. The UN Women’s Fund for Gender Equality is currently seeking proposals from women’s organizations and government agencies in several North African countries, including Morocco, for grants that will support women’s rights and empowerment in their region. Here’s the link to an article about this fund’s latest plans:


And here is the link to the fund itself:


In addition, here is a short and simple Darija vocabulary (phonetically presented in the Latin alphabet):

Suh-laam: Hello

La-bess?: How are you? (To respond, say “La-bess” without lilting upwards on the last syllable)

Shwee-yah*: A little

Buh-zeff: A lot

Shou-kran, sah-fee*: Thanks, that’s enough

Sh-bett*: I’m full

Ee-yeh: Yes

La: No

Zwee-na ––Beautiful

Bess-la-muh: Goodbye

*I use these words during nearly every meal with my family; in the relationship between Moroccans and their guests, it is polite for the host to offer a ridiculously large (and, often, seemingly never-ending) amount of food to the guest. We actually learned and repetitively rehearsed these three terms in our SIT orientation before we met our host families so that we would have a kind of linguistic artillery at the ready to defend our overwrought stomachs!

That’s “safi” for now, but I just completed my week-long rural homestay so look forward to more Morocco updates soon!

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