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Ramadan in Morocco


Ramadan in Morocco has been a very fascinating experience up till now. Suddenly the country comes more to life and becomes much busier. Walking home to the Medina everyday from class, I see men praying in Mohammed V street in front of the mosque because it does not fit enough people, and I am amazed by their dedication to God and to their religion that they pray on the streets. After Iftar, people begin to visit each other and families eat more often with each other in Ramadan than any other time of the year. Ramadan truly brings together the Moroccan people.

One interesting thing I witnessed during my time during Ramadan in Morocco is that when two people fight in the streets, others get involved to separate the fight and to calm both parties down. I learned from other Moroccans that fighting increases in the street during Ramadan. That is a downside because Ramadan is a holy month were people should be at their best behavior. Because people abstain from eating, drinking and smoking, it becomes much more easy for them to become frustrated and angry. I have witnessed many streets fights while walking in the Medina everyday. However, most often other Moroccan people would interfere to calm them down and stop them from fighting. This is the good thing about Moroccan people that is often not present in Westerners. When they see something wrong, they interfere to offer their help. I imagine that if a fight breaks out in a street in America, many would claim that it is none of their business and would go on their way and ignore what is going on. This is the beauty of Moroccan community; Moroccans feel like they are obliged to help one another and to lend you a hand.

Many Moroccans try to be at their best in Morocco. As a result, charity increases and more Moroccans give to those in need. More Moroccans donate to the poor and to mosques and many other organizations. The reason is that during Ramadan the reward from God is even higher and so many more people are willing to do good. Some Moroccans spend their time volunteering for other organizations. When we visited Marrakech, we learned that several organizations that rely only on volunteers feed hundreds of Moroccans for Iftar.

My host sister and I were talking about the fact that many Moroccans try to be at their best during Ramadan. However, one thing she criticized about Moroccans to me is that as soon as Ramadan ends they all go back to their bad habits. Some people do not understand the true spirit of Ramadan. In fact, many wait only for after Iftar to continue their bad habits. A common phenomenon she told me about is sexual harassment, for example. During the day when fasting occurs, Moroccan men often lower their gaze and refrain from commenting or harassing women. However, as soon as Iftar ends men become much more aggressive and revert to their old habits of harassing women on the streets. But she told me that these people are only a minority, most Moroccans appreciate the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan in Morocco has been a great experience so far and I am glad to have experienced it in Morocco. Honestly, I feel it enriched my time in Morocco. It was fantastic to be submerged so deeply into another country’s traditions. We learned a ton about the Moroccan people, and how Ramadan affects their day-to-day lives by talking to the people we stayed with and met on the streets. Often, the days can be challenging, but once we break our fast at night, Morocco comes alive and carries on like normal.


A Talk with Michael McMillan

Michael McMillan, the director of the American Language center in Rabat, recently came to talk to us in class. Michael first started out by asking us if any of us planned on working in the Arab World after graduation and what are our plans to do so. Before listening to his story I had imagined that a man like him who left the U.S to come live in Morocco probably had it all planned out from the beginning. However, as it turns out, it all just worked out coincidently for him to be in Morocco.

Michael told us he had been doing urban planning for his whole life until he decided he will follow the career path he has always wanted since he was a kid, to be an English teacher. And it made me wonder that someone has to be incredibly passionate about something if they would change their life’s path mid career. What was even more interesting is that Michael actually has no knowledge of Arabic or French in Morocco despite the fact that he has been there for over a decade. He just simply decided he will not put the effort although he wished that he would. That to me was very surprising because despite the fact that I stayed in Morocco for six weeks as opposed to the years he stayed, I found it very hard to get by in the country and it was thanks to our Moroccan Darija class that I was able to get by.

Arabic is the official language in Morocco. The ministry of education in Morocco has given primary important to teaching Arabic, the official language and mother tongue of most Moroccans. French comes second because France is the first economic partner and the previous colonizer of Morocco, this fact makes the political and economic Moroccan elite influenced by the French culture along generations.

So it was interesting to listen to Michael tell us about the Increase in ALC enrollment across Morocco and across the years. This made me wonder about the Increasing role of English in the world and what role should it play in Morocco. Throughout my stay in Morocco, I have noticed that Moroccans rarely ever do they speak English. It is either Arabic or French. Could English become Morocco’s first foreign language? And will Morocco dispose the most visible sign of a colonial legacy?

Michael told us about his efforts to make ALC a safe place for Moroccans. He tries his best to make the center respect Moroccan culture to protect the students and also to prevent being accused of imposing American values and encouraging imperialism. He explained that he views himself as a guest. If he wants to make big changes he will go back to his country and make changes. One story he narrated is about two teachers who ordered a coffee in Ramadan and drank it in the teacher’s lounge. Many Moroccans in the center were displeased and complained because they felt their values were being disrespected very publicly. These are the type of things Michael tries to avoid. He’d rather be safe and sorry. It was all about the safety of the students.


From Duke to Sidi Muhammad Bin Abdullah University

In Fez, our group of students from Duke visited Sidi Muhammad Bin Abdullah University. We met up with the director of the English department and other Moroccan students studying in that department to start a cross-cultural dialogue between life in America and life in Morocco.

The discussion started with the Moroccan students introducing themselves, listing their name and their majors. I was struck by how most of these students knew what they wanted to study and have even decided on the track they will focus on despite many of them being in the beginning of their studies. When it was time to introduce myself, I introduced myself as an undeclared major which was weird considering how all the students knew what they wanted to do already. When they inquired into what that meant, we explained that in the U.S students do not officially declare their major until the second year. This is a major difference between American educational systems and Moroccan ones. In Morocco, students apply to college and decide on the major before starting. As someone who still has no idea what they are doing, I certainly felt more appreciative of the freedom students enjoy in America.

After that the students began asking us about what did we think about Morocco before arriving and what stereotypes do Americans usually have about Morocco. We told them that Americans don’t have stereotypes about Moroccans in particular but there are stereotypes about the Arab World in general. Some of them include the Arab World being very unsafe and dangerous. Some of our parents and family were worried about the prospect of visiting an Arab country because of the way media portrays Arab countries. We discussed with the students the issues of a biased media in the U.S and how attacks carried out by white men are considered lone attacks while attacks by Muslims are considered terrorism. Such biases add to the skepticism the American public has towards Arabs and Muslims.

We also decided to ask students what they though about America, and many of them have spoken that they do like America but are skeptical of the American government and particularly its policies towards the Middle East. This sparked a political dialogue which made me surprised about how well-informed the Moroccan students were about the U.S political system. American students do not have that knowledge about Morocco and so I was very impressed that they seemed to be following the American elections and keeping up with the most recent developments. One of the Moroccan students began critiquing the two-party system in the U.S and how it wasn’t fair that many independent voters were unable to vote because they didn’t register in time.

Another student asked us what we thought about Donald Trump and asked us what are the reasons he was growing popular. We explained that many Americans have irrational fears about immigration and that the media definitely plays a huge role in magnifying these problems and in making Donald Trump more popular.

The talk we had with the students was very eye-opening. I was impressed with how Moroccan students are very well informed about Morocco, America, and the world, and it made me wonder why many American students weren’t this informed about the Arab World. We all came from different places but we can all agree on one thing, that often education doesn’t just come from within the class, but from outside dialogues as well.


Between Sips of Coffee


Cafés dominate life in Morocco. Young men and old men, smoking shisha and taking tiny sips of coffee, all sit by the café and gaze around at passers by from day to night. They probably have been sitting there for hours already. During my time in Fez, it felt like it was impossible to walk more than a block without finding another café, almost always crowded by men who sit there facing the streets and gazing at passersby. I am intrigued by every café I pass.

Cafes are the key place to socialize. Men gather to drink sweet mint tea and watch people as they go about their affairs. It’s obvious that cafés are an integral part of Moroccan culture. I have noticed that Moroccans by nature are very relaxed and laid back people, who also really enjoy being engaged with their community and interacting with other Moroccans. This is why the café seems like a perfect place for them, it is both the perfect relaxing place and the place that brings Moroccans together. Cafés are almost like a second home for many Moroccans, and their popularity shows that there is a cultural need for the environment they provide, which is probably even more important than the tea itself.

The American habit of taking a quick cup of coffee on your way to work is not the way in Morocco. Here a single cup is consumed over hours. I honestly envy their life. Living in the United States for a year already, I have gotten used to the fast paced and rushed life. I have often found myself get engulfed by the busyness of my days that I barely have time to pause and reflect on my day. It often feels like I will fall behind and fail if I stop moving. In America, progress and success now means fast.

Through observing this practice, I have begun to wish I had the time in my day to reconnect with my place, to reflect on my day and have sometime for myself. However, the hectic lives of first-world countries make it an impossible feat to perform. There is often barely enough time to sit down and enjoy my day while relaxing and interacting with other people. Perhaps it has even reached to the point where people on campus barely have time to stop and greet to each other out of fear of being distracted and being late to where they have to be. That would never happen in Morocco. In Morocco, if two people see each other in the streets, they would go out of their way to greet each other and acknowledge each others presence, sometime taking as much as 15-30 minutes talking to each other in the streets.

Coffee in Morocco is more than just a drink. Coffee is when social interactions happen. The café is a place to talk, read, write, play chess, and pass the time. It is the place where Moroccans reflect about their day and discuss current issues. In Morocco time is paid little attention to. What matters most is the present moment, whether it lasts a few minutes or several hours. And that is found between sips of coffee.


Citizenship and Democracy

Throughout our stay in Morocco, part of our assignments has been to interview Moroccan people about what it means for them to be Moroccan citizens. When interviewing them, I asked them questions to evaluate their level of participation in Moroccan society, and I would evaluate them based on four criteria: Political Life, Community Dimension, Civil Society Dimension, and Values Dimension. Moroccan people are very well informed about their country and know what needs to be fixed and what needs to be improved. However, one thing that caught my attention about citizenship and really struck me is the lack of participation of many despite the knowledge they have. One thing they all had in common is disdain for the current Moroccan political system, and how it no longer serves the people but only serves the elites.

Based on my interviews, Moroccans no longer have any trust in the political system. Thus, most of them refuse to vote, run for office, participate in political organizations, or be involved with politics in any sort of way. They all agreed on one thing: politicians only serve themselves and do not meet the needs of the people. The state of the healthcare system in Morocco and the educational system is deteriorating and these are two of the sectors that really need to be fixed and really need the government to care about. But unfortunately, not many officials pay attention to the desires of the youth.

When asking them about what they thought is the ideal Moroccan citizen, they all agreed that a good citizen is one who helps others. I witnessed that when walking in the streets of Fez and Rabat and many other Moroccan cities, and was amazed at how blind people walk in the streets completely trusting other Moroccan citizens to guide them through the way and to help them on their path. All these Moroccan citizens were strangers to the man, and yet, they all cared enough about him to make sure he goes on his way and arrives safely. Through my interviews, I discovered that this is one thing all Moroccans agreed on. To be a good citizen, you have to be ready to help others and to give, whether it is your money or your time or even volunteering. A good Moroccan citizen helps other Moroccans in need.

Despite the lack of participation of Moroccans, they are all educated people who know enough about their country and the corruption that is present. They all know what is wrong and how it should be fixed. And this is contrary to what most Arab leaders who say that Arabs are not just ready for democracy. But after speaking with the youth, I can surely conclude that Arabs are most definitely ready for democracy. And especially the Moroccan youth, they are more ready than ever. They are not just ready for it, they also want and demand it. The Arab Spring was based on the dreams of the youth to fight corruption, to have freedom, and most importantly to obtain justice. Talking to the Moroccan youth, I have realized that what they want is not much different than the youth of the rest of the Arab World.  Their demands are not much different than those who participated in the Arab Spring. I am interested and anticipating to see how the future of Morocco will turn out. The Moroccan people need politicians they can trust if the country is to go forward.


The Year of the Elephant


Last week, our class hosted a guest speaker, Leila Abouzeid, who is a Moroccan author who writes in Arabic and is also known as the first female Moroccan author whose works are translated to English. Leila has published many books including a novel called Year of the Elephant, an autobiography called Return to Childhood: The Memoir of a Modern Moroccan Woman and the The Last Chapter, a semi-autobiography about identity, gender, and male-female relations. Abouzeid has deliberately chosen to write in Arabic, and many of her works have been translated into foreign languages. She has also recently published a book called Life of the Prophet – A Biography of Prophet Mohammed. This book is the first to be written by a Muslim Woman and a creative writer. The author wrote it in English without adding personal interpretations because she wants the audience to do their own interpretations.


Leila talked to us about her famous novel “The Year of the Elephant.” She said the title comes from an important battle in early Islam when foreign tribes riding elephants marched to destroy the Kaaba in Mecca. This battle was very important in Islamic history and in her novel, Leila also focuses on a pivotal historical moment, but this time in Moroccan social memory: the transition from colonial rule to national independence. This book is meant to serve a representation of life during Morocco’s struggle for independence from French occupation. First published in Arabic in Morocco in 1983, this novel almost immediately sold out. It is one of the first Moroccan novels written in Arabic to be translated into English. Leila’s “Year of the Elephant”, discussed major themes common in Moroccan literature such as family and divorce, however, her approach is unique and different because she approached these themes through the eyes of a woman to explore the conflict in Moroccan society that happens between culture and modernity. She is a unique writer because many Arab women writers often write books that reflect Western values. However, The Year of the Elephant discusses these issues from a Moroccan perspective without any Western influence.


I found Leila’s opposition to writing in French very interesting considering that many Moroccans often take pride in speaking French. From the way Leila was speaking, it was evident that she strongly opposed the French and, as a result, she has never spoken in the language despite being fluent in it. Her rejection of French is a statement that she resists the legacy of colonialism and especially the torture her father was subjected to. I really admire the fact that she is a woman who seeks to challenge the norms and what is prevalent, and that is seen from her choice to write in Arabic, to her focus on writing about strong Arab women who are seen overcoming many obstacles.


This is important because Arab women through various events in the history tend to be ignored or overlooked throughout the Arab World. Oftentimes, women fought in the struggle as much as the men but after a victory or independence, the men stepped into the power vacuum and pushed the women to the side. The women either didn’t benefit at all or were in a worse position than they were before. The most recent example can be seen in the Arab Spring, where despite the participation of women in the uprising and in the protest, the region has never seen rates of violence against women this high. Leila’s effort to focus on women’s perspective and to illuminate their participation in the struggle is important so that the voices of these women do not disappear. Women are often lost from history books and from historical narratives and it is writings like these that prove women have played a vital role in throughout history.


Overall, I really enjoyed having Leila talk to us and I definitely look forward to reading many of her writings to understand another perspective of Moroccan culture and history. Not only does her work add a different perspective to main historical events, but it also dispels many stereotypes about Moroccan people, particularly about the Muslim woman being passive and inactive.



Citizenship and the State



I interviewed my host sister, Fatma Zohra, a 23-year-old woman currently studying Midwifery at a private institute in Rabat. I sat down with her one day after Iftar to discuss the issue of citizenship in Morocco and about her participation in the public sphere.

Like many Moroccan citizens, she was very critical about the state of politics in Morocco. As a result, she refuses to participate in political life, whether it is through political parties, running for office, or even voting. “Those who run for office never care about the people,” she said. She believes that politics are very important in Moroccan society and has a huge influence but she doesn’t want to be involved because of those who are corrupt and who often only care about their personal interests.

Despite her inactiveness in political life, she is very active in the community dimension. Fatma believes that religion plays a very important role in the community and is a very important factor in citizenship.  She used to volunteer at orphanages and with senior citizens for several years. She believes that when it comes to volunteering, people should help others because they are able to contribute, and also because it is encouraged by religion and is rewarded by God. According to her, the mosque is very important in a community and in encouraging Moroccans to be better people and better citizens. Mosques offer lessons for children to go and learn the Qur’an. Mosques also have Khutbahs delivered by the Khatib. These sermons  encourage Muslims to help others and to improve their community.

Fatma told me that Mosques in Morocco are important for the development of the community. Just like it is the place for prayer, the mosque also functions as an office for welfare management where the old, the widowed, and the poor receive assistance from the donations made by Muslims. Muslims who do donate do so because zakat, or almsgiving, is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a religious obligation. Most mosques are open 24/7 and they are often the place the poor and homeless go to for help.

One of the most important question I asked Fatma was what is the ideal Moroccan citizen. She stated that a good citizen must be a good person and must be educated. When I asked her to elaborate on what she meant by a good person, she explained that they should not do drugs or steal or harm others. Anyone who does anything to make Morocco a worse place is a bad citizen. A good citizen should also be educated because being educated means you can contribute to making the country a better place for everyone.

For Fatma, just like a citizen has a responsibility towards their country, the government has a responsibility towards its citizens. The Moroccan government according to her has neglected the education and health sectors in Morocco. These two factors are important precedents in order for an individual to become active in society and be able to contribute. However, it is these two sectors that the Moroccan government has neglected and she blames the lack of engagement of many people with their society on the state.  In her opinion, the state has a huge role towards the Moroccan citizen that is yet to be fulfilled. The state must meet the demands of the people first if someone is to become an active citizen.



On Being a Woman in Morocco


Encountering unwanted attention from men is, unfortunately, a reality for female travelers. We have spent four weeks in Morocco up till now and moved from Fez to Rabat last week. It has been interesting for me to observe the different ways women were treated in public spaces in different places in Morocco.

While we were in Fez, I walked for five minutes from my homestay to ALIF when going to class. I’ve noticed that public spaces were usually male-only. I passed by the same café every day and every single time it was only men sitting there regardless if it was daytime or nighttime. Female drivers weren’t a common occurrence in Fes and during the three weeks we have stayed there I may have spotted only two female drivers in the city. Perhaps this explains why women walking in the streets seemed to garner lots of attention. From the first day walking to class with Amani, we were catcalled by men who were driving by in their cars or by the men sitting around in the cafes. During the three weeks we stayed in Fez, Amani and I have been followed twice by men, and catcalled at least once every day. It was even worse when we would go to the Medina. With comments ranging from “Bonjour” and “I love you” to vulgar sexual comments, it was evident that women were not made welcome there.

However, Rabat is very different. Unlike my experience in Fez, Rabat seemed much more welcoming for women than many other places we have visited in Morocco. I have spent about a week in Rabat up till now, but I have yet to experience any unwanted leering or catcalls. It has been a common occurrence for me to see women wearing skinny jeans or short skirts, a sight I haven’t seen in Fez. After speaking to some Moroccan women about this, they all seemed to agree that Fez isn’t the best place for women to be in. In Rabat, women have more mobility and aren’t treated as strangers to the street. And according to my host mother, people in Rabat are more open-minded than people in Fez and more respectful to women. I have really appreciated the fact that I can walk in the Medina and be able to feel safe and not worry about unwanted attention.

Morocco has been one of my favorite countries to travel in, but it is also hard to navigate as a woman. However, this is not surprising because it seems like this is the reality for women everywhere and not exclusive to Morocco only. As a woman living in Saudi Arabia, I have dressed conservatively and abided by the dress code but was still met with unwanted attention. During the one year I have stayed in the U.S, I was not exempt from sexual harassment and neither were any of my female friends. Egypt, my home country, is not much different than Morocco. The month spent in Morocco has taught me how to deal with harassment here and how to avoid it. During this time, I have learned to admire Moroccan women for tolerating and enduring these experiences every day. Harassment in the street is one way of telling women that they don’t belong here, and from my experience, it exists everywhere. Regardless of what women wear in public, there will always be those who oppose their presence and who will treat them as transgressors.


Taxi Troubles and Their Troubling Trends

Yesterday, the craziest thing happened to me: my taxi had no idea where to take me and my housemate when we told him the Darija for “American Language Center,” in addition to a number of notable landmarks (like the Rabat train station). We went on an unwanted tour of the city center, travelling past many commercial roads and landmarks, including the Hassan Tower. You might think that a taxi driver would notice, considering the frequency of travel in this area, if there was an important center for thousands of students, even if he couldn’t remember the exact name of the center. At the same time, however, one can perhaps be forgiven for not realizing that we were travelling in the exact opposite direction we need to–after all, it took me two minutes of staring at Google Maps to correct our directions and finally arrive at the proper location.


I bring up this point not for the sake of complaining about the “horrible, stupid taxi drivers” here: on the contrary, they’ve always been helpful, stopping to help us when we’re panicking at being late to class; they’re also honorable, like our particularly unfortunate driver yesterday who graciously accepted only half the metered fare (made higher on account of his own mistake). It instead belied a truth about Rabat that separates it from the much more populous Fez: there is no “there” there. Not even the taxi drivers, in a sense paid to know their city and understand its directions, get lost without any trace. Contrast the experience in a Rabat taxi with that from Fez. The drive from the medina to ALIF in Fez was simple, but so were the drives to all other places we visited, whether Bathah, R’Cif, or even the house of a local friend that was vaguely in the vicinity of the Fez train station. Places seemed real and valuable to the drivers, which mirrored a general sense I got in Fez that has been missing in Rabat. In Fez, everyone made it their business to understand the dynamics of other neighborhoods; girls from the Ville Nouvelle seemed to brave the conservative old city infrequently enough, but nonetheless sympathized for the problems of that conceptually distant neighborhood, and it was their pride in its landmarks and the good people there that ensured they returned. Fassis recognized their cities’ problems–no one reads, Ville Nouvelle residents’ arrogance, medina denizens’ sometimes disrespectful, sometimes “suffocatingly old-fashioned” ways–but most people understood the situation, they talked about it, they recognized it, and at least dreamed of ways they could deal with it. In the meantime, they tangibly lived with it. It was their job to know. It was their pleasure to know.

Wherever I go in Rabat, I get the nagging feeling that I’m stuck in a limbo between a faceless New York City and a hundred small, generic, “developing country”-neighborhoods. Instead of pick-up basketball in the park, there are games of wall-ball and football taking place next to the all-too-common poor families, begging in the midst of one of many upscale concrete jungle-gyms. Stores advertise bikinis even as their customers shun women from wearing them during the holy month of Ramadan. What’s more, these contradictions go on for miles. The city has little sense of self, and its residents don’t seem to mind. The majority of the pleasant people I’ve met in this city are too caught up in the minutia of their daily lives to live in their city. I know of few people outside the medina who know much about their old city, and in general there seems an attitude of obliviousness. The cab rides were only the beginning of these ruminations about how two cities, so geographically nearby and similar, on face value, in terms of class structure, could be so different. It isn’t size, because if that were the case, one might expect the larger Fez to be the city of facelessness. Alternatively, one might think that the capital of Morocco would be more interesting, seeing as it has more money and enterprising people, but that doesn’t appear to be the case either. Instead, I fear it has everything to do with the political dynamic of the two cities, an inversion of the latter supposition–the weight of a non-participatory government may have crushed its host city’s residents’ spontaneity and desire for civic participation. I’m sure this is the theory of a whole paper somewhere, but all I know is the experienced version of the problem–and it would be tragic for all the cultural, communal potential in a modernizing, trailblazing city like Rabat to be lost.

When Charity Organizations Attack

By Josh Curtis

The DAW Program arrived in Rabat today, and after my family broke Iftar, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood. As we walked through the busy streets, filled with people, stores, and cars, and after walking through parks, the host father did the unthinkable: he walked over to a beggar by the side of the park and gave him alms. It wasn’t much, but it was also such an instinctual act of justice and compassion that I immediately felt some shame for not doing the same, though I had little change in my pocket to begin with. I was angry; I hadn’t even personally acknowledged the man’s presence and need beyond internal sympathy. Why did it feel so uncomfortable for me to walk over and give just a few dirhams, less than a dollar? Chump change could make the poor man’s day.

I have had similar crises all throughout the program so far, including in Fez. In the Fez medina, I never personally saw anyone in the Ville Nouvelle give alms, while the beggars of my neighborhood in the medina always seemed well-supplied. I convinced myself of the need to donate a few dirhams to those I saw most frequently by the end of our time in Fez, feeling satisfied that I hadn’t “wasted” any resources on “fake beggars.” This very sensation, however, is concerning to me. I have always seen myself as a good citizen who follows up on ideals of helping the needy with action, sometimes in soup kitchens and sometimes donating money to charities. The fact that my primary concern in waiting to give a few dollars worth of charity usually turned out to be “not wasting it” is a cruel inversion of our citizenship studies so far.

In the United States, and especially in New York, a wicked pattern has developed in which citizens are encouraged to ignore the deprived and destitute because “somebody else will take care of them.” That “somebody else” is usually a charity, or perhaps the government. This organization, the theory goes, can make better use of charitable resources than I can, making sure they aren’t spent on drugs or something similarly counterproductive. America is saturated with such organizations and programs. Morocco is bereft of them, but the citizens are more aware of the poor here, and do more despite earning less. America’s wealth of charities is in some ways a curse: rather than build a connection to the poor who live around us, we resolve that someone else can do it better before happily ignoring these other efforts as well. In the US, we frequently think our activism, votes, and charities make our citizenry stronger, and yet it seems we are encouraged to ignore the very needs we claim to fight for. Thus, the beggars seem to beg the question: who is really a good citizen? In my experience, we participants of the much-celebrated American democracy are the most aloof of all. Except maybe for those young Fassi Moroccans trying to emulate us, but that seems no flattery to me.