Sugar, Spice, and Everything NEW
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
By Emily Ruebelman
“Illegal but acceptable” is how I’d classify the amount of sugar that is involved in making the delicious mint tea that is a staple in Morocco. Of course, sugar is not illegal, but when I watched my host-brother put a full cup of sugar in a half-liter kettle of water I could feel my blood sugar rising. The best part about the mint tea (besides its AMAZING taste) was that those making it were always sweeter than the tea itself. I was able to recognize this genuine sweetness through a four-day homestay in an Amazigh village in April 2019. The hospitality shown by our host family made me feel cared for, respected, and valued. Our host family took care of our basic needs—food, water, and shelter—and they provided us so much more. Through body language, laughter, and other forms of communication, the love and acceptance we felt from our host family was evident and strong. The hospitality shown during our stay was powerful and taught me that it is possible to open your doors to strangers and have them leave as part of the family.
Though Moroccan food is not really spicy (shoutout to tajines), the stigmas and stereotypes around Morocco and Muslim cultures are. ImprintEd Abroad was excellent in providing our group with program leaders and host families that would help educate and challenge us on any preconceived ideas we might have had. Some of my favorite memories from the experience involved our group sipping mint tea and discussing Morocco and Islam for hours. The discussions were open, free of judgment, and incredibly educational and impactful. We were able to discuss tricky subjects like faith, beliefs, marriage, religion, politics, and more in a respectful and comfortable environment facilitated by our program leaders, Imane and Jaouad. Though all of these discussions were impactful, the best part of my educational experience was Imane. She is a strong, intelligent, and confident young woman who had in-depth conversations with us that shaped on my own beliefs and opinions on Islam. Imane is someone I now look up to and admire, and she taught me how to combine grace with confidence in a patriarchal culture. The educational experiences we had were impactful, but Imane took my education to the next level and empowered me as a woman.
Everything that ImprintED offered us on our experience was new. The activities took us out of our comfort zone and pushed us to recognize biases in our own beliefs and opinions. Because of these activities and deep discussions facilitated by Imane and Jaouad, I have a new appreciation and respect for a culture and society I previously had little knowledge about. I believe in the power of hospitality and that mint tea can bring people together; I believe in challenging and changing the negative stigmas about Morocco and Islam; I believe in powerful women around the world who are bettering their societies; and I believe in the educational experiences that ImprintEd offers to those who are willing to step out of their comfort zones and learn.