Ode to Bridges

Obviously, I started this entry nearly a month ago. So it takes me a while to sort through complicated concepts. Don’t judge.

A mere weekend after leaving our host families, we are parting ways with our Moroccan hometown, Rabat. I’ll miss the unbelievably mild weather, the impressive monuments and medina, and the general chill atmosphere of the city, but most of all, our school here. Bridges truly does meaningful work: giving local (and obviously foreign, as well) youth the opportunity to learn other languages and about other cultures. Connecting this back to the bigger picture (social enterprise, saving the world, etc.), I think it’s sowing seeds for something very powerful. Everyone talks about the idea of globalization and issues that matter on a global scale, and this is absolutely important. But often, people ignore the fact that every business deal, every economic shift, every political revolution affects real, live humans. I was going to wait a little bit to bring out the big guns, but I think now is as fitting a time as any. In the words of some friends of mine (who, incidentally, get paid to think about this sort of thing):

“The only change that matters is the change that happens after you are gone, and the only change that lasts is the change that you create with others.”

When one finds a problem in the world, they can approach it with the same mindset as they would a game of Roller Coaster Tycoon. There’s a need, they fill it, the issue resolves itself. But in the real world, it works a little bit differently. In order to create positive change, you have to acknowledge the fact that you’re dealing with real people (who are decidedly more complex than the two-dimensional sort) and approach the problem with the goal of building relationships into the solution. We can go more in-depth on this some other time, but the point is that behind each truly effective solution in a community, there are people who are aware of their impact on one another.

Bridges is sowing seeds for more people like this. Each pupil who goes through a language course here forges a relationship with the instructor (shukran, ya Tarek we Taoufik we Raja) and comes out equipped to interact with others from a completely different country than their own (even if they’re not at a high level of fluency, the act of learning the language means a lot). And aside from all the profound stuff (hush, it made sense in my head), the staff here is exponentially kind and supportive. The food is delicious (and they have a vending machine! POSH). The building itself is beautiful (plasterwork everywhere!). I’ll miss refrigerated Kit-Kat bars, hibiscus flowers, the spiral staircase (though I’m proud to say I managed not to seriously injure myself on that thing), the huge shelf of dictionaries…Numerous thanks are in order to *everyone* who works at Bridges, especially Meriem and Sidi Ali (who definitely count as Moroccan family to me). Barak allahu fikum, we uhebkum!

First destination when I come back: bgheet namshi il madrasat Bridges.

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