The Importance of Family in Fez, Morocco
As my time in the beautiful and divergent Fez, Morocco that has architecture, food, culture and history unlike anywhere else came to a close this past Friday, this seems like the perfect time to reminisce on the sheer element of togetherness that presents itself in every aspect of life in Fez. As an American, I have grown used to the individualistic mindset that more often than not prevails in my day to day life outside of my home. Growing up in a Black household, as the youngest of 5 siblings, I was raised in a more collectivist mindset that put the good of the group and the needs of others before our own. It shaped how I view society, how I carry myself in my friendships, relationships and more. In Morocco, the collectivist mindset can be seen through the way we eat every meal of the day as a family, how the shop owners frequently borrow change and coins from one another. It is clear in the way Moroccans never fail to welcome you to their country as a foreigner, and especially in the way our homestay families have welcomed us as their own.
Here in Morocco, contrary to my experience in America, everyone takes a 2-3 hour midday break for lunch. It allows workers time to go home and eat lunch with their families, for students to have a sufficient break from school, and for teachers to enjoy more than an often interrupted 30 minute break. By adding 2-3 hours a day for people to spend lunch with their loved ones and rest in their homes as they nourish their bodies, Morocco is adding 730-1095 hours a year to the time that one is able to spend with their families. Living in a household with a large family often meant that we are running on different schedules and a lot of the time eating dinner alone; I always ate breakfast alone and lunch was served at school. Growing up I never minded eating alone and I actually preferred it, but the designated family time surrounding meals in Moroccan culture and the way it is built into the work and education systems was quite interesting and painted a wonderful picture of active citizenship. As mentioned in my first blog concerning Muwatine: Citizenship in Morocco, the students defined citizenship with Islam and unity at the forefront. The collectivist mindset that shapes the day to day lives and the familial responsibilities of Moroccan citizens, as well as the systems that are set in place being governed by social norms rooted in cultural expectations exemplifies what it means to be an active citizen to Moroccans.
There are so many reasons why I loved living in Fez, Morocco, specifically the Medina but the encompassing feeling of warmth steeped in rich culture that uplifts Islamic beliefs surrounding the importance of family and community is the first. I am so extremely grateful to have called this beautiful city my home for three weeks. To my host family who made Fez feel like home in every way, shape and form; I will be back soon, Inshallah!