Category Archives: week 3 Reflections
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.
By Amani Ahmed
The streets and even the sidewalks of the city of Fez are undeniably busy and crowded. If you don’t pay attention, it’s all too easy to bump into people or lampposts or trees or anything as you make your way toward your destination. I must admit that I, too, have had a clumsy experience or two. It’s not too dissimilar from the bustling nature of New York City or Philadelphia, two cities near to my own hometown. However, I witnessed a moment which describes the unique nature of Fez so perfectly. In my own experience, people in northeastern cities in the United States are generally completely focused on themselves and their own tasks at hand and expect that everyone else will do the same. There is an expectation that everyone else should take care of themselves and provide for themselves. The people of Fez seem to have a much more communal attitude. One day last week, while waiting for a taxi, I watched as a blind man made his way down the sidewalk of a main city square, with all the confidence in the world, because he knew he could trust his fellow citizens to help him on his way. As he walked, somebody would assist or direct his path and then leave when the coast was clear. After a couple steps, a new person would suddenly be at the man’s side to help him toward his destination. The whole ordeal was not rehearsed but it was completely fluid and I can honestly say I have witnessed few moments of engaged citizenship as beautiful as that. This man was able to have all the trust in the world in the people around him, people who are strangers to him, because he knew that his city would not let him down. Without hesitation, average people stepped up to be good neighbors and I think that defines engaged citizenship.
Engaged citizenship involves contributing positively to your community. Each person that decided to help that blind man that day decided to be forces of goodness. They helped to foster a society characterized by supportive and generous behavior. They became active members of their community in a way which enhances everybody else’s experience, because it allows for a greater trust to permeate the community. Knowing you belong to such a society would only make you want to return the positive attitudes and actions. It’s the perfect cycle of community and it creates good and active citizens.
I did not see that man make it to wherever he was going, but I know with all my heart that he made it there safely. I’ve never seen engaged citizenship practiced so perfectly before but I’m glad I finally have. I learned what blind faith looks like that day, and my own faith in humanity grew a little bit more. I was reminded what community should look like, and I feel encouraged to contribute more positively to my own communities. Engaged citizenship exists, and if everyone saw that man like I did, I am convinced that they would be reminded too.