William and Mary Law School

Moroccan Heritage

I leave Morocco in exactly one week, and today I took some time to reflect on my experience.

When I arrived, I was pale white from months of studying indoors at law school. Now, I'm back to my normal color, the Mediterranean brown. And oddly enough, this slight change in skin tone has made a huge difference. 

A while back, I traveled with some friends to Fes for the weekend. We visited a famous mosque and there was a man sitting outside of the entrance. Normally, non-Muslims are not supposed to enter mosques but sometimes people make exceptions. My friends were at the other side of the courtyard when I started walking towards the entrance to take a peak inside. The man looked at me and started talking in Arabic. I embarrassingly told him in French that I don’t speak that language. “Are you sure?” he said in French, “You look Moroccan to me.” When I told him my mother was from Marrakech, he got excited and invited me to go inside the mosque. Moroccan hospitality wherever I go.

This isn’t the first time a native saw the “Moroccan” in me. At the Medina in Rabat, one salesman told me he could see the Arab heritage in my facial features. Another man at a café continued to speak Arabic to me for quite a while, insisting that I must know the language because I am clearly an Arab. These moments can be awkward, but they are also extremely comforting. When I arrived a few weeks ago, I was in a city of strangers. Now, people are treating me as if I am where I belong.

the man