Our Own Undoing

Being the anxious person I am, I read lots of blogs and articles on travel in Morocco before embarking on my study abroad trip to the marvelous North African nation. I was aware that there are more risks for women when it comes to traveling (not just in Morocco, but everywhere, and not just in  travel but in most things, as is the unfortunate state of our world). However, in the articles I read written by Western women about their experiences in Morocco, all of them said, hands down, their least favorite part about their travels was the Moroccan men. After two weeks of being here, I found myself quickly agreeing.

Everyone stares, men, women, and children alike, because we are so foreign looking, so unusual. There is a distinction, though, between gawking at someone as they pass you on the street because they are Westerner and gawking at someone because they are a Western woman. I know that many of the men who stare as my friends and I pass are not doing so because they are interested in our unusual clothes or are curious about what our lives are like in far away nations so different from their own; I know that they are more interested in our bodies and our so-believed promiscuous attitudes about sex. The incessant catcalls in English, Arabic, and French, the blare of their car horns or the flash of their headlights is not flattering in the least; it is offensive as though being an American woman implies that I am easy and naive and will gladly hand over my body to anyone who shows me the slightest hint of attention or interest.

When I first arrived in Morocco, the attention was comical. I had expected it after reading the travel blogs and responded to it in the best way possible: I ignored it completely. But now, as I am approaching my fourth week here, I find it harder and harder to ignore as the anger boils up inside me at this blatant disregard for my dignity and my worth as a person rather than a sex object. I know these men would be furious if someone treated their mothers or sisters the way they treat me, so why do they do it? Am I any less of a human than Moroccan women?

Morocco is a very patriarchal society; I see 2-3 times as many men on the streets out and about at a given time than I do women, and my language partner, a female Moroccan university student, told me that the “men problem” is not limited to their interactions with foreign women. It is an issue even native women face on a daily basis. Clearly, there is a deep rooted cultural division between the US and Morocco that can explain the disparity between the sexes. However, I am not educated enough on the culture to be making assumptions about the specific origins of Moroccan misogyny with one exception.

Without a doubt, I can say that the US and our treatment of our own women contributes immensely to the male attitude towards American women in Morocco and in dozens of other countries, as well. In this highly globalize world we live in, American culture proliferates every corner of the Earth mostly in the form of pop culture such as movies, advertisements, celebrity gossip, music, and porn. Foreign men see these things, see how the media so effortlessly strips our women of their humanity until all that remains is their physical existence, and assume that all American women are the same, having never had a genuine interaction with one before. Can we really blame foreign men for the treatment of our women when we are the ones who taught them that such behavior is acceptable and even rewardable?

We are our own undoing. The US can not expect to solve problems in other countries, be it sexism, terrorism, racism, etc., when our own country and our own people refuse to stop playing the part of the creator. Before we fix others, we need to fix ourselves.


how you gon’ be salty on vacation

Wow. If I could relive any day over and over again, I would have to make a top 3 list of days because I’ve had some pretty incredible experiences in the last 19 years, but I know without a doubt today would be on the list. It was perfect. As a perfectionist who battles daily at learning to go with the flow and accept things the way they are, I do not use that word often. One of the reasons I did not post the link to my blog site on Facebook, unlike most of the other students, is because I am not very confident in my ability to creatively organize my thoughts and build well-written reflections. So, I’m working on learning to accept and love my flaws rather than beat myself up over them.

However, today had no flaws!!! ?

Last night, all anyone was talking about was what they were going to do on their first free day. During second semester, one of my friends told me that his favorite place in Italy is Cinque Terre. After days of googling and fawning over pictures of the beautiful mediterranean, I had definitely set my hopes on spending a free day in the blue sea.Thankfully, there was a group of PCS pals waking up at 7:30 in the morning and heading for the train station to purchase round tickets to the beautiful island. I asked if I could join and, to no surprise, they all welcomed me without hesitation. I seriously adore every sweet soul that had attended this PCS trip. What an incredible group of people.

This morning, I was so excited that I woke up about 5 minutes before my alarm went off (love when that happens !!) and began packing for the day. I took essentials and nothing I would die without, in case my things were stolen or got lost. 12 of us gathered in the lobby, headed for the train station, bought our tickets, and piled on board with big grins on our faces. The train ride ended up taking longer than we expected and began to drag, causing us to develop a weird combination of restlessness and exhaustion. Then, all of the sudden, we saw a streak of blue before the train went underground. THE OCEAN!! Wow, what a tease. But that brief view of the ocean was all it took. We all started to giggle and smile with excitement, our stomachs growling with hungry and our brains screaming, “Let us off this train and into the beautiful, crystal blue water!”. Screech! The train stopped, doors opened, and we bounded out and hustled for the exit.

The air!! So fresh and salty. It was perfect. We grabbed a bite to eat, asked a local for some insight, and then headed across a large bend that was to the right of the cliffs where most people were swimming. I was so thankful we decided to explore a different location because when we rounded the bend we were hit with the most incredible view. To the left of us, beautiful, multi-colored homes stacked on top of each other, and to the right, bright green mountains and a more isolated area to jump into the water. We hollered and cheered in excitement as we approached the cliff. We chose a spot for our things, snapped a few pics to smile at on way home, threw off our clothes and ran for the water. There was a fun ledge to jump off and into the mediterranean.


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That first jump in was my favorite moment from today. I jumped, hit the ocean, felt the cold water envelope me and then I kicked my way up for air. After days of sweating in the heat and humidity of Arezzo, Assisi and Florence, the cold water felt like heaven. After only a couple minutes of swimming, my body adjusted to the temperature. We explored a cave near us, climbed on top of rocks and cliffs, and floated in circles, taking in the view around us. I can feel that moment, the water, the view, the smell, everything as I type this post. It was a perfect moment and one I will cherish forever.


I remember boarding the train, worried that I had wasted my day because we would end up spending more time on the trains than we would in Cinque Terre. I hate myself for those pointless, negative thoughts. I would do the train rides all over again in a heart beat. Because we swam most of the day, we got tired fairly quickly and were ready to head back when it came time to board. I love how I was worried we wouldn’t get enough time there and it ended up being just the right amount. Silly me :POn the train ride home, Ross and I creatively set his notebook up to connect our small tables together for us to play cards games. It was fun and helped pass the time until we had to board the second train.


We all grabbed food and played games during our layover before our final train ride to Arezzo. When we reached the train station in Arezzo it was about 12:45 and we had to get back to the hotel by 1. We reached the hotel at 12:47, so we all jumped up and down, embraced each other with our time to spare and then walked in right at 1 :-) ! What a day.

I really needed today. I had been spending a lot of time with a group of people that I already knew going into this trip so it was nice to take a day trip with people I was still in the process of getting to know. I love my friends but I definitely needed the break from them. I had been wanting to branch out without hurting their feelings and today was the perfect way to because they knew how much I had been wanting to go to Cinque Terre. It makes me want to get to know everyone even more and utilize my time to invest in new friendships while maintaining the original ones.

Man oh man am I am going to sleep so well tonight after all that swimming!! Plus, I get to sleep in… hallelujah ?


ajousting well

Wow. All I have to say is that I will never forget today. I truly do not believe I have ever been so surprised or thrown off guard than when I saw men dressed in crazy colored leggings walk slowly across an arena. I felt as if I was in an extra in the crowd of a medieval-based movie. There were men in long robes and brown bob wigs. Bob wigs!! I had to post pictures because it is impossible to accurately describe everything exactly how it was.


I have never seen anything like the joust in my life and I’m not sure if I will ever have the opportunity to experience it again. I hope I do because nothing will make a person laugh harder until they see men in leggings fighting with each other in an outrage over who deserved to be crowned the winner. I am mind blown that jousting is still a tradition and is taken so seriously. The Italians in Arezzo do not hold back. They go all out in celebration for the joust and it is an incredible ceremony, with men trained to throw, flip and catch large flags in an entertaining fashion. It is the Italian version of OU vs Texas, with festivities and celebration throughout the entire weekend. I really enjoyed watching the Italians cheer and celebrate over jousting just as passionately as we do over football. It reminded me that although our traditions, values, and every day habits may be different there is still much that we have in common.


Towards the end of the joust, two out of the four teams competing were neck-and-neck for the crown. When the blue and yellow team received the victory, the pink and yellow team lashed out in anger and police had to step in to prevent a fight from breaking out. The other team was so upset that when the winner’s rider was trotting down the arena, the men ran up to the horse yelling and terrified both it and it’s rider. I could not keep myself from laughing as these livid Italians dressed in the goofiest costumes I’ve ever seen hollered and lashed out in anger over a joust. I just couldn’t take them seriously. After the joust, the winning team and all of their fans ran to the cathedral to watch the crowning and celebrate their sweet victory.


Tonight was definitely one of the coolest experiences I’ve had so far and gave me a glance into what the Italians of Arezzo are passionate about and how they like to celebrate. After an interesting conversation with Professor Ducleux, I learned that what some Italians celebrate and enjoy in a town in Italy is not true for other towns. Each part has their own traditions, habits, spin on food and accents.


Reflection: Week 6, PR Publications

This week I was asked to create a newsletter for a Fortune 500 company. Live Nation Entertainment was my company of choice. Overall, using an Adobe program to create a text document is easier for me than using Adobe to edit photos, so I felt as though I was reasonably prepared for this assignment. I think that my mock newsletter for Live Nation turned out well – I like that I was able to keep the layout pretty simple. Considering that I am not all too familiar with what a newsletter looks like in the first place (can’t say I’ve read to many of those leading up to this point in my life), I think that my reaction to what I created was influenced by that. My target public affected my content and design strategy by keeping the newsletter a streamlined document. Because I can imagine this newsletter being targeted towards Live Nation investors, it was important to keep the creative aspects of the document at a minimum.

Embedded PDF Version:

Newsletter PR Pubs Final PDF 2

Example Screenshot:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 11.50.00 AM

Statue of David had me FLOR(ence)D

Day 2 of day tripping!!

I thought I sweat a lot yesterday…

The last time I felt this gross was after I crossed the finish line of my final cross country meet. Today was a constant cycle of sweating, the sweat kind of drying, then sweating again. No lie my dress was soaked at one point so thank God I wore white.

Besides the heat, dehydration, swarm of tourists and having to run from the aggressive scammers who literally wrap their bracelets on your wrist and demand payment, today rocked. I would experience everything over and over again just to admire the amazing pieces of artwork and statues for a minute or two longer. Also, there were the oh so entertaining and creepy men who posed as statues until you got close enough for them to grab you. I really appreciate how Anthony embraced the man with a big smile, so typical, while Camille responded the way I would’ve, freaked out.


I am sure everyone will blog about the Statue of David so this post is not going to be original, however, it is absolutely necessary.

In all honesty, art and history are not subjects that I have ever been fond of. In high school, science, english and certain mathematics (lol anything other than trig) piqued my interest and I devoted the majority of my time to succeeding in those areas, while doing as little as possible to receive A’s in the classes I found less interesting. There were probably many reasons as to why I struggled to stay awake in history, but the most obvious was the teaching style of my professors. I was not taught in a way that had me creatively visualizing the stories of the past or message behind the artwork. I was given facts, dates, names and geography to memorize, which I would immediately forget after the test. This trip has opened my eyes to art and history. I know that sounds so cheesy but I was truly blind. I believe that a large part of it is because I am seeing the artwork in person rather than on a powerpoint and learning about them through Professor Duclaux and not a history book or wikipedia site. It truly makes a difference.

However, there is nothing Professor Duclaux could have said to prepare me for what I was going to see at the end of the Academia Gallery. When I walked into the final room, I was at a loss for words as I stood dumbfounded and tried to picture a man creating the 17 foot masterpiece that is the Statue of David. I cannot even fathom how difficult it must have been to craft such a life-like profile. One mistake and he could have ended up with a pile of stone or a horribly disproportioned young man. Not to mention, he did not have near the equipment that someone today would use to create such a piece. It is truly phenomenal and pictures will never do it justice.

While we stood with heads back and awestruck eyes, Professor Duclaux asked us the question that will never have a correct answer, “Is the statue a representation of David before or after he threw the stone?”. Personally, I believe it was before because of the emotion in the eyes, the position of his brows, and the obvious tension emanating from his anatomy. His diaphragm is sucked in, his right butt cheek is clenched and his eyes make me think he may have had a moment of doubt before he threw the stone. David had the Lord on his side but he was still human and I believe I that if I were him I too would question my ability to defeat a man who was so large he was considered inhuman, a giant.


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I enjoyed observing the statue, its small, intimate details like the structure of the veins on the left hand versus the right hand and the curve of the flexed calf in his left leg. I think that maybe the reason Michelangelo never stated whether he crafted him before or after the stone was thrown is because he wanted there to be mystery behind the work of art. He left a permanent mark by created a piece that would be debated and discussed by thousands long after he passed on. I believe Michelangelo knew exactly what he was doing before each chip and carve made on the stone and he wanted his name and legacy to be remembered forever and unlike any other artist. One may say he was many negative things: greedy, rude, selfish; but I do not believe one can say he was not devilishly brilliant.


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Oh and I couldn’t leave out the pictures of Ross as he aspires to be like the tourists of Florence. Gotta love it!


I see, you see, we all see Assisi

DAY TRIPPPIN! Now, the real sweating begins…

Today, we took a nice 2 hour bus ride to the beautiful city of Assisi. Not gonna lie, till today I had never even heard of Assisi. I was thoroughly surprised and impressed by the town’s art, architecture and atmosphere. The city is very quaint and has a homey feel to it with it’s rustic buildings and daily hum of people chatting on the streets or sharing a meal at a cafe.


When we arrived, everyone immediately bolted out of the bus and to the nearest restroom. No surprise there! Two and half hours on a bus will do that to ya. Those who were ready stretched their stiff limbs and patiently waited to begin the day’s ventures. When everyone had gathered around, Professor Ducleaux set the pace for the day and headed toward the Basilica of Saint Francis. Not only was I amazed by the giant, brilliantly white building, but I was also surprised at the amount of fully armed and ready Italian officers there to check our pockets and purses before entering. I remember whispering to Rhett, “They all look the exact same..”. I have yet to see an Italian officer that isn’t at least 6 feet tall with a buzz cut, facial hair and an intimidating stare.

After passing through security, Professor Ducleaux handed us ear pieces and began to tell us about the history of the building we were about to enter. However, with Professor Ducleaux it is more like he is weaving stories together and connecting dots as he fills our heads with new information. I have found listening to our professor lecture a much more enjoyable experience than reading The Italians (sorry John Hooper ¯_(ツ)_/¯).
Professor Duclaux describes the life of Saint Franics and draws a parallel between his life and the life of Jesus Christ. The pivotal moment of Saint Francis’s life was when an angel appeared to him and gave his life purpose, telling him he must rebuild the church. He went through a process of conversion and spent monumental time in prayer. He dressed as a poor man and decided to do all he could to give to those in need, even if that meant he had to steal from his father to do so. When we entered the Basilica, there was artwork all along the walls that gave a person a visual of the legend of Saint Francis.

As Professor Duclaux began to describe the aspects of Franciscan art, to draw emotion and connectivity to its observer, I began to view the paintings in a more life-like way. The artist painted the story in a way where you feel as if you can relate to Saint Francis during some point in his life, whether it’s when his father rejected him or when his spiritual transformation begins. You can see the emotion in the eyes of those pictured and it gives you a bit more clarity in understanding the gravity of his decision to completely alter his lifestyle.
Saint Francis did not live a selfish life, but he lived one of sacrifice, generosity, kindness and love. I found lecture very moving and a reminder that I am here for a purpose, to serve others and show them Christ’s love through my actions rather than words. I truly believe that the best kind of leader is a servant leader, and Saint Francis was just that. Today made me realize that I need to be more aware of the lives of those around me and I need to look for ways to bless others. Saint Francis did not wait for opportunities for generosity and love to present themselves to him, he sought them out. I should be doing the same thing in my own life and especially for the remainder of this trip.

During free time, I went exploring and got lunch with Rhett, Anthony, Ross and Lane. We went inside a stunning church with blue walls and gold designs and trim around it. It was a very different styled church than others I have seen thus far and I enjoyed sitting for many minutes and taking in the details. Not to mention there was air conditioning so who knows how long we really sat there :))

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Also, today I thought it would be pretty funny to take pictures of tourists who are dressed in only the finest travel attire :P. I got Ross in on my idea and he tries to get close enough to look like he is apart of the group or friends with the person. It is honestly hilarious and we have seen some pretty extreme outfits.

I am very thankful for today, for the insight it gave me into my own life, the areas in need of improvement, and the giggles as I get to know my fellow peers more everyday. I feel refreshed, inspired and filled :]


Nothing to Vine about here!

June 20th: Here we go again!  We started again at 9, in two different groups. One writing postcards, and the other FINISHING our Hospital paintings!! On the terrace of the hotel we took time to write postcards and thank you notes to the people that made it possible to be here. This was so important for me because it is easy for me to get caught up in the beauty of the moment, and not realize what it took for me to get here. So many people poured into me, mentored me, and supported me in so many ways. PCS taught me the importance of thanking people, people’s help and guidance is so underapreciated. I have always just been thankful to myself, I haven’t ever expressed it to the people that I am actually thankful for. This experience is already changed me, and we are halfway done.


After another lunch break, half of the group (the best group ever) went to a local vineyard. After a longish walk we arrived at one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Multiple pictures, and a you later we had a wine tasting! We tasted the 3 wines that the vineyard makes and it was glorious. The most glorious part was being around my new best friends. I know I keep saying this, but these people are so fantastically amazing, I cannot believe that I am actually here. After some great conversation, we split into families. I was blessed enough to be apart of the Grillot family. We went to dinner and just talked. I learned facts about my fellow students that I did not know, and that I probably wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for that dinner. This trip is jampacked and it is great to have allowed time to just hang out and talk. These people continue to amaze me, and I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings!



nothing is impastable

lol these “punny” titles get worse and worse ? Anyways..

WHOOP WHOOP!!! The service project is complete and turned out far better than anyone had envisioned! I am so proud of all my fellow PCS members for consistently working hard every day and maintaining positive attitudes regardless of what they were doing or how significant they felt their role was. Even though many people were not feeling 100% healthy every day and were pretty tired due to the time change, no one complained or let those factors prevent them from completing their job well. We each signed one side of the wall and will forever have a permanent mark in that hospital.



However, our service project didn’t end when the painting ended. We then proceeded to pick weeds for the remainder of that morning at the archeology site, the Hill of Pionta in Arezzo, Italy. I’m sure that after completing the mural, some people were not too thrilled to be picking weeds and cleaning up what looked like an endless wall. However, everyone remained in good spirits and continued to work until the job was complete. I was very surprised with the results because when I approached the wall I did not think that picking the weeds would have a very significant effect. However, I could not have been more wrong and this picture is proof that our hard work made a difference. I am humbled to write that as a group we were able to play a small role in the beginning stages of restoring the Hill of Pionta, which has monumental historical significance as the birthplace of Europe.

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As a team, we completed both jobs to the best of our ability and should be very proud of the outcome. Plus we bonded the whole time ?

After our successful morning, we were all rewarded with trips to either the vineyard or the pasta making class. My group had already been to the vineyard so we made our way to the restaurant. I was really excited for this part of our day because I have always enjoyed cooking. My mom began teaching me, at a young age, how to follow a recipe and which pots, pans and other utensils are necessary for the dinner-making process. I was eager to learn how to make different types of pastas so that when I am home I will be able to show her.


The first pasta we made was called fettuccine and the shape and size reminded me of long strands of ribbon. We began by placing flour onto the table and making a small circle in the middle of it. Then, we cracked our egg and began to slowly whisk the egg and flour in a smooth fashion so as to not allow the egg to spill over the sides. After thoroughly mixing the egg, we began to knead the dough with our palms by flattening and folding it over. Then, we took rollers and rolled the dough until it was so thin that when you picked it up you could see your hand through it. Next, we split our dough in two and folded one half in a specific fashion. We cut the pasta and used the knife to pick it up so it all hung down where we could see how long each strand was.

For our second pasta, we made ravioli. We took the second half of our dough and placed a spinach and cheese mixture evenly along the top. Then, we folded it over and took a rigged cutting utensil to cut our pieces of ravioli. This pasta was very simple to make since we used the same dough from the first pasta.


They prepared the dough for the final pasta, gnocchi, and we only had to roll and cut it into small circular pieces. I had never tried gnocchi until I got to Italy and it is now one of my favorite pastas. I really love the texture with the added potatoes. Just fantastic ?


One of my favorite parts about pasta making was the very sweet older woman who would go around and help anyone who was struggling to knead their dough properly. She couldn’t speak any english so she would just smile and motion with her hands. She would give a loving pat on the back or thumbs up if our dough was good and always had a cheerful smile on her face. I love people who are so joyful that it is contagious. She did not allow the language barrier to prevent her from trying to communicate with us and you could see in her eyes how happy she was to have us there. I feel inspired to reach out and try to communicate with the locals because of the effort she made with us.

Solid day. Great project, great people and great food.


milky way

There’s a space between our fingers when we hold hands
where time & space freeze.
Our bacteria intermingle in a jubilant promenade
dancing from one digit to the next, swapping secrets as they go
about their most beloved memories & cruelest heartbreaks.

There’s a space between our kisses
when we come up for air and move back in for a sloppy wet one
like life depends on it
where birds croon, leaves fall from trees & God chuckles
at the innocence of his children
not knowing where he will take them next, but caring nonetheless.

There’s a space between our dialogues
where silence sings
like the 80-year-old soprano in the church chorus
where the vehicles on the freeway shudder angrily, awaiting
the tiniest hint of acceleration
where a man rests on a street corner with a sign reading:
Anything will do.

There’s a space between then and now
when shit went down & people got hurt & she learned
never to kick a man when he’s down
or trust an outsider with a sideways grin
or ask forgiveness before the go-ahead
a space where disappointment bleeds into anger
then disbelief
then absolution.

There’s a space.