My name is Rebecca Sawatzki. I’m a senior International Studies major with minors in French and Arabic graduating December 2016. Participating in the Arabic program was one of the most worthwhile things I did at Loyola. During my time at Loyola I studied abroad in the south of France and in Rabat, Morocco.
“Abeta!!!!” screams a tiny three-year-old with small curls and a massive smile as he sprints across the room. This attempt at my name “Rebecca” is the only warning before he pounces, completely carefree he throws himself into the air expecting me to catch him. Every day, my little brother welcomed me home in this crazy manner, shadowing the same enthusiastic hospitality I received from everyone I met in Morocco.
In the Fall of 2016 I lived, studied, and worked in Rabat, Morocco via the IES Study Abroad Consortium. IES provided me with ample opportunities to integrate in the local culture by setting me up with a host family and an internship at Morocco World News, but one of the most influential experiences was playing Ultimate Frisbee with CLUF M, a Moroccan team.
The players welcomed me with open arms, inviting me to play with them each Sunday and participate in their other social gatherings. They also forced me to speak the Moroccan dialect of Arabic “Darija” publicly, correcting my mistakes with some loving mockery and well-intentioned humiliation. I used to practice all week to think of something worthwhile to say to the group, but would still normally end up making some hilarious mistake or causing them to laugh due to my accent. Just as it had done in Chicago two years prior, Frisbee provided me with a home away from home.
My relationships with my amazing host and Frisbee families taught me an appreciation for other cultures, faiths, perspectives, foods, ideas, and traditions. I hope to one day return to Morocco and once again be welcomed by the pitter-patter of my little host brother’s feet sprinting to greet me at the door. Until then Bslaama!