Arulita Gupta | Atlanta, GA – Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society, 2017
Arulita is a junior from a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, studying Neuroscience and Medicine, Health, and Society. This summer, Arulita is ecstatic to be working in two intertwined domains of education and healthcare in Rabat, Morocco. Arulita hopes to inculcate scholastic values in students, help remove stigmas impinging healthcare success for patients, and learn from the communities she will be serving.
Blog Post One:
Before I begin sharing the aroma of freshly baked bread alongside pickled olives, the bartering that echoes throughout the winding streets of Medina, and the indigo tiles that adorn the walls of my homestay, I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Nichols for allowing me to learn, to explore, to live to the fullest.
When I landed in Rabat a week ago, it was obvious that I had just parted from suburban America. I jumped at the sound of every horn, held my host mum Leila’s finger while crossing busy intersections like my fellow Moroccan toddlers, but underneath the chaos was a consuming feeling of familiarity. I grew up for almost half of my life in New Delhi, India. If one were to replace the Darija for Hindi, and tweak the clothing a bit, I wouldn’t be able to tell if I were in New Delhi or Rabat. It is fascinating to me that despite having a different religious background, not knowing any Darija, and being vegetarian in a country where animal sacrifice is auspicious, we share so many mannerisms and core values. I suppose the common thread of humanity finds its way. It’s only been a week, but I feel like I’ve lived here and known my family for years.
In a couple of words, my host family leads life as, “love.laugh.eat.sleep.repeat.” They’re absolutely wonderful and have taken me in with open arms. We live in the Medina, which is known for adhering to older traditions. Nevertheless, in a developing country undergoing a western revolution, cultural lag pans out in confusing ways. For example, we live in a traditional Moroccan home where many joint families used to share common spaces. Now, in a move toward nuclear families, each floor of my house has been converted to a separate apartment for each of the three families that are in the midst of defining boundaries (awfully convenient as one can always expect to try to fall asleep to three different television programs).
This week, I’ve been working at Attadamoune teaching English with two other volunteers from Madrid, Spain. The organization targets individuals that dropped out of school and are currently pursuing vocational studies. We only have a semi-functional marker and a white-board, but my 12-19 year olds are quite passionate about learning English. Although we don’t have many resources available to us, this has inspired much creativity in our teaching. I’ve realized that the only resources we need are a strong will to teach and learn. After gauging how much the students knew and what they wanted to learn, we defined several learning objectives. For each objective, we first teach the concept and then instill it by devising a game. For example, we first teach the rules for past, present, future tenses. Then to instill the concept, we divide the class into teams and play relay conjugation where one student runs up to the board and conjugates a verb in one tense and passes the marker to the next student who conjugates another tense. This way, we’ve been able to teach countries by playing, “I declare war on…,” directions by drawing a map on the board and asking students how they would travel to different parts of an imaginary town, vocabulary through Pictionary, and spelling through hangman. It’s been so gratifying to watch the students learn for the sake of learning because they are having so much fun. Collaborating with the Spanish volunteers has also been integral to my service experience. Since we come from different educational backgrounds, each of us has a unique perspective to offer.
As I write this, I can’t help grinning up at my host sister who’s dancing to, “Love You Like a Love Song,” on her bed. As I finally wash the pasty icing off my face, I can’t help fondly reminiscing about a student’s birthday party from earlier today.
I can’t wait to see where the rest of my Moroccan adventure takes me and until then, Salamo Alaykom!