Citizenship- Michelle Rodriguez

The Alif center, where I study Moroccan Arabic, introduced me to my language partner named Tsukina, a young twenty-two-year-old who recently graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree. She is a very bubbly and energetic woman who enjoyed talking with me in spite of my broken Moroccan Arabic. Upon interviewing Tsukina and asking her view of citizenship, the result was the following conversation. I have adjusted her dialogue to make the conversation more comprehensive, as there were sections where she had difficulty articulating her ideas in English.


Me:                 What does being a Moroccan citizen mean to you?

Tsukina:         I feel happy because in Morocco, I feel that it is the safest within the Arabic World. Women are not forced to wear hijabs or djellaba or that they are not allowed to drive, like in Saudi Arabia.

Me:                 What is something you aren’t happy about in Morocco?

Tsukina:         There are inequalities among people, the upper-class people and the lower-class people, this is a problem. There are lots of people without jobs, we get degrees but there are no jobs or opportunities for success.

*She later mentioned that she was among these people unable to obtain work, even after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Tsukina said she planned on moving to Tangier if this continues, claiming there would most likely be more job opportunities in Tangier.

Me:                 What are some things you do like in Morocco?

Tsukina:         I like my independence, when I think of independence, I think freedom. I do what I like and there’s nothing forcing me otherwise.

Me:                 If you could fix something in the government, what would it be?

Tsukina:         The first thing is education, the education program. The education here is not good. There are places where the education is worse than other places, I think this needs to be fixed.

Me:                 Do you volunteer for any organizations?

Tsukina:         I don’t volunteer but I plan to in the future during the summer.

Me:                 Are you engaged in politics?

Tsukina:         I stay away from politics. I work hard in my job, but I don’t like to engage in politics. I feel like I would be forced to do things if I participate in politics/ or work in the government, that’s why I don’t like it.


Looking back on our conversation, I thought it interesting her idea of Morocco, particularly the topics of women and the jobless youth/educated persons unable to enter the job market. Tsukina being in her early twenties, I felt as though her experiences would provide insight on the current situation of Moroccan society.

As she shared her perspective of women and her own experiences, her views resonated yet simultaneously clashed with that of my own. Although I agree that, to an extent, women in Morocco have greater freedom than other states within the Middle East, I could not help but continuously compare their freedoms to those of western/American women. Her response forced me to think from the standpoint of Moroccan women and how they may interpret their position in society in comparison to other – less foreign or familiar – societies. Despite considering myself unbiased, this realization compelled me to rethink how Moroccan women might see themselves and not how I see them. However, her response also raises other questions. Such as, if Moroccan women see themselves in this fashion of safety or complacency, then would they be less inclined to maintain awareness/participate in politics? Or would they be more inclined to maintain political awareness or participation to avoid regression of women’s rights? Frankly, it depends on the context Moroccan women grow up within.

Particularly in Tsukina’s case, I wonder about her dilemma and the idea of many educated yet jobless Moroccans. She doesn’t think in political terms, but the philosophy she utilizes to justify her abstinence from the political realm contradicts itself. Although she clearly has opinions of the areas that need improvement, her actions of passive citizenship imply complacency with such problems. Which brings about questions regarding towards Moroccan society and whether they influence women or Moroccans in general to think in this manner? At the same time, myself being an individual participating in only a few groups impacting the community, am I entitled to criticize her thinking? I thought it interesting how her concept of citizenship forced me to think about my own, and how hypocritical I can be about my government even though my exercise of active citizenship is sparse. Perhaps realizing these faults is the first step towards active citizenship.

Overall, Tsukina’s perspective on citizenship rearranged my western perspective of other cultures, especially so in states within the Middle East where western created stereotypes tend to overload our perceptions of such areas. It was also a journey into my opinion over my actions concerning the political sphere, including my shortcomings and possibilities for improvement. I also believe the conversation that I had with Tsukina forced her to think about important topics that she didn’t usually spend time thinking about. Hopefully, this exercise gave her reason to ponder these topics more. After all, things can only start with the first step.

Tsukina declined to have her picture taken. Instead, this is photo I took in  Chefchaouen that kind of reminds me of Tsukina 

2 comments to Citizenship- Michelle Rodriguez

  • Collene

    Your report has many facets to it. It is complicated because it is about freedom and government.

    Citizenship is a subject of great importance to all of us. In the case of Tsukina, she feels free and independent. But is she really?

    The Moroccan government limits ones freedom and independence. You are allowed to get an education, but are limited to job choices. That fact directly impacts her freedom. The reason is that those with wealth and political power control the government. The government controls choices in Morocco as well as other places. throughout the world. It always has and always will.

    Therefore, Tsukina must activity participate in her government to effect changes that she desires.

  • Stacy W. Barbour

    Any time you can have a meaningful conversation such as you and Tsukina had that, in some way, plants the seeds of more inquiry, self-discovery and a commitment to aspire to be more aware, more pro-active and effective in your life, it is a major accomplishment–never to be underestimated–such are the ingredients of a life-changing epiphany.

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