Monthly Archives: January 2013

Open your eyes and “C”

Crossroads, conjuncture

Carrefour, crissing, crossing



What goes around, comes around


Karma. Infinity of space and time. Here we go again.


ACCESSible Inspiration

For the past four months I have been teaching a group of exceptional Moroccan students as part of a US State Department English Access Micro-scholarship Program. The program provides English instruction to under-privileged youths in the Rabat-Sale area, as they follow our high school level curriculum.


At AMIDEAST, most of our students are upper-middle class Moroccans, who have the means to pay for English instruction. Therefore, the Access program is unique in that it strives to open educational doors for exceptional students who would otherwise not be able to pay for their classes.

My students are all stand outs, and in comparison to my other high school classes, their motivation and determination to master the English language is actually inspirational. They are thirsty for knowledge. They ask poignant questions. They are appreciative of their educational opportunities.

Not all my classes are like this, however. Last term, I taught three sections of Inspiration 3 (the name of the 3rd level high school course). I would frequently refer to it as un-inspiration 3, or constipation 3, or kill me, I can’t stand this class 3. My (paying) students would come to class and play with their iPhones, chat with their friends, and take all sorts of liberties with their break time. I would leave work on Wednesday’s and Saturday’s after a grueling 3 hours of blank stares and snotty girls with raging teenage hormones, and crawl into my bed exhausted and disappointed.

Finally, I decided to stop wasting my energy on those who were killing me softly. I decided to focus on the students who showed up prepared and ready to engage…… and I’m a better person and teacher for it.

I believe that students need to take responsibility for themselves. Especially high schoolers. I don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks, but at a certain point I had to realize what was effective and what wasn’t. What proved effective was to cater my classes to those who wanted to learn.

My Access class was (and still is) the uplifting end to my work week. They continue to amaze and motivate me to be a better teacher. They demonstrate time and again that education is the most valuable thing a person can possess. Nobody can take it from you. It’s yours forever, and you are responsible for cultivating it.

Education is like a tree. If we plant firm roots in rich soil, we can grow our branches and blossom beautiful fruits and flowers and leaves. What’s more, trees are also active participants in the well being of the rest of society. They transform CO2 into O2 so that we may all breathe clean air. A responsible, well educated person can also do something of the sort.

I think we all need to ask ourselves more often: in what ways can our education serve as our foundation for service. How can we help to create a more healthy society for everyone to live in? What are our talents? How have we honed them thus far, how can we continue to hone them in the future?

** This post is not an official AmidEast or Department of State website. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent AmidEast, the Access Program, or the Department of State.

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Café Culture and the Moroccan Cat Call

Cafés line the streets here, one spilling on to the other; rows and rows of plastic chairs all lined up facing the same direction–streetward. I like to call it sitting Moroccan style. You know, next to your pal, instead of facing them.

Urban Dictionary refers to these kinds of people as same side sitters. Their definition is as follows:

People who, for some reason unknown to humankind, choose to voluntarily sit on the same side of a booth or table at a restaurant, leaving the other side completely vacant.

For those of us accustomed to café culture in the United States, you know that same side sitters are awkward.  What’s normal is to sit opposite your rendez-vous, not next to them. Ask your chiropractor, they’ll tell you that craning your neck to gossip with a friend or make small talk with a date is bad form and highly unappreciated by your C1-C7 vertebrae.

So why is it that here in Morocco same side sitters are a dime a dozen? I’ll tell you why….Because “shoofing” is a national sport.

*Note: the verb “shoof,” in Darija, means to look. Therefore, shoofing, is the Arab-ish (Arabic+ English) present continuous form.

I speak from my own personal opinion when I say that many Moroccan men have been trained since birth in the art of the invasive stare. The look– the good ol’ up n’ down–happens on the regular.  It’s so common in fact, that I’ve taken to walking with an air of disdain, feigning disinterest in their eyes when I walk alone.  I walk with purpose. No smiles. So not me.

Truly, it’s a self defense mechanism that I’ve adopted in order to stride past the same side sitters sipping their mint teas and smoking Marlboros in their plastic café chairs. But a look is just a look. And admittedly, a narcissistic ego boost.

The cat call on the other hand is a whole other ball game. In general, it’s one of my all time favorite things to analyze, because it has to be the most highly ineffective way of picking up chicks. For some reason, however, the “ssssssst ssssssssst” seems to be the Moroccan translation for “Can I have yo numba? Can I, can I?”

No offense bros, but that is a terrible tactic. I’m telling you straight up,  go get a puppy…or a baby. But you shouldn’t hiss at me like that. You’re not a snake, and I don’t speak Parseltongue.


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Dear Lizzie,

I was about to wish that your every dream come true. That you find yourself surrounded by friends, laughter and good times. I almost wished that your every cup runneth over financially, romantically, spiritually, and creatively. That good health be your faithful companion, peace your guarded ally, and love your perpetual guide. When suddenly, it dawned on me that as an infinite, powerful, fun-loving gladiator of the Universe, with eternity before you and the power of thoughts to shape it….It’s you, Lizzie Guerra, who will be granting wishes this year.


The Universe

Dear Universe,

Thanks! I appreciate your eternal support and confidence in all of my endeavors. I will continue to place one foot in front of the other with a smile on my heart and swagger in my step. I can’t wait to find out what kind of wishes I will be granting this year!

Always and forever,


Happy New Year to all my friends, family and fellow earthlings. What are your New Years resolutions, reflections, conclusions, new beginnings? This year I am going to take to the kitchen and concur my fear of grocery shopping!

Facelifts all around, starting right here with my blog…I’ve revamped the layout and the title so that they better reflect my current life style. Though don’t be misguided by the photo either. I’m not living in the sandy dunes of the desert. The new cover photograph was taken on a trek through the Sahara last year. My subject was our Berber guide; a fitting picture to go with the title Nomad–emphasis on the OM.  I will continue with my posts, but expect more music and photographs, and (inshallah) some recipes of the new cuisines I will be learning to cook!

P.S. If you liked my note from the Universe sign up to receive them yourselves from! They’re amazing!


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