My mac is balancing on the shaky tray table in front of me, as I occupy the middle seat *cringe* on a flight from Madrid to Athens. This route diverges from the schedule because we were supposed to spend nine days in Morocco before traveling to Greece. A few days before departing, our professors (who are traveling with us) told us that- despite their best efforts- the Moroccan portion of the trip was canceled.
I’ve always imagined Morocco as eclectic, spiritual, colorful, and overwhelming. I swelled with nervous excitement to venture somewhere completely new. My impression of Islam would depend upon meals with Muslims rather than American media. I’d cover my hair with a scarf and ask why…genuinely trying to understand a culture different than my own. Simply put: visiting Morocco would have helped me grow as a human.
But I was stripped of this opportunity because of Trump’s “Muslim Ban”. Morocco is not one of the seven highly Muslim populated countries whose inhabitants are, under the executive order, banned from the United States. But the truth is… no one knows what’s coming next. Many Muslims also occupy Morocco, which is “BAD!” in the eyes of some.
Without much Wi-Fi, I’m isolated from the hateful, discriminatory, unkind words that are happening back home. I mean… I was isolated until Morocco (talk about a “wake-up call”). For not being more informed- I’m embarrassed. The irony of it all is that my study-abroad courses are centered around the Islamic Middle East and service-work with refugees. So I’m learning to appreciate these hard-working, peaceful, and persevering people… while the U.S. government discriminates against them.
As I sit here, my feelings fluctuate between anger and sadness. I’m angry that I wasn’t allowed to travel due to repercussions of unjust politics. Then I realize how selfish that anger is. At my core, I know that those nine days don’t matter in the big scheme of things. What made me furious, was being told that I couldn’t go somewhere. I won’t, even for a second, pretend to know what it feels like to be a refugee or a Muslim from one of those seven banned countries. But in the most simplistic way, I can empathize with being told “no” while traveling…and it sucks. I wish more people would make an effort to practice empathy– whether they’re a government worker, a voting citizen, or Donald Trump himself.
I know the hashtag, #notmypresident gets some heat, but at times like this-I find it applicable. This administration is pretty strenuous on the soul. Throughout the next four years, we’ll need to remind ourselves of a concept that I wish was implied:
All humans should be treated equally no matter what we believe, where we’re from, or what we look like.
See you someday, Morocco.