Moroccan Arabic and its Challenges

A few weeks ago, I was able to attend a lecture by Dr. Atiqa Hachimi on gender and styling in Moroccan Arabic. As I am minoring in Arabic, the talk seemed interesting, and I wanted to learn more about the Moroccan dialect, since the University of Oklahoma usually focuses on the Egyptian dialect. The lecture mainly talked about the language in context of social media, but it also included a discussion on the different stereotypes surrounding Moroccan Arabic and North African Arabic in general. For instance, many Middle Eastern Arabic speakers joke that Arabic “died in North Africa” and that North African Arabic is “not real Arabic,” it is unintelligible and a mishmash of other languages. This view leads to language discrimination, most visibly in the subtitling of North African Arabic speakers in Modern Standard Arabic or Middle Eastern Arabic (like Egyptian or Syrian). These portrayals in turn lead to the notion that North African speakers must accommodate to Middle Eastern speakers by using Modern Standard Arabic or a Middle Eastern dialect. Consequently, in one survey done by Dr. Hachimi, 72% of Moroccans ranked Syrian Arabic was the “best” form of Arabic; however, most speakers in the Arabic-speaking world list their own dialect as the “best” form.

Despite the feeling among some Moroccans that their dialect is not the “best,” various blogs and Facebook pages have appeared that attempt to reclaim the dialect. One page (which is now deactivated) acted as a “blacklist” where users would list famous people who accommodated to outsiders and used Modern Standard Arabic or a Middle Eastern dialect, instead of their Moroccan dialect. As most of the individuals who were blacklisted were women, it lead to a larger discussion of how language accommodation often translates into sexual accommodation as well, particularly because of the fact that Moroccan women are often over-sexualized in Middle Eastern entertainment.

Overall, this discussion helped me learn more about the Moroccan dialect, its history, and the unique challenges it faces. While in the past it seemed as though Moroccan dialect speakers would be forced to accommodate for other Arabic speakers, the lecture ended on a hopeful note that Moroccans are fighting for their language and for its recognition.Image result for darija

Pictures!

I’ve now added pictures from my trips to Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico to my pictures page. Please go and check them out! I have many more pictures than just the ones shown, but tried to go an select some of my favorites. If the orientation of the pictures is off, just click on the picture and it will open up a new page with just the picture in higher resolution and the correct orientation. I hope you enjoy getting to see some of my adventures and the places I’ve visited!

-Will

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Great March of Return

There seems to have always been some sort of conflict between Israel and Palestine. I feel that I cannot name one single time in history that these nations had been allies, or at the very least, neutral toward one another. Among the Palestinians, there is currently a group of people that have been clamoring near the Israel-Gaza border in a protest being called the “Great March of Return”.

Essentially, this protest is being cultivated by Palestinians who wish to ‘return home’ to what is presently Israel. There is a deep history of aggravation between both sides and, while I have heard of and studied the conflict, I believe I still know very little of what all is going on and what the protest truly means. Despite my lack of definite knowledge on this topic, I do understand one thing: these people could be stronger together than they are apart. I know it is extremely difficult for some conflicts to be looked past, but I see no reason to believe that past problems between nations of any sort should be preventing a potentially fruitful relationship between the powers of today. Globally, the world and its people could do much more together, at least in my mind this could be the case. I just hope that this conflict could end once and for all one day, both nations agree to peace, and the people be able to live in harmony and be able to solve future problems in a diplomatic, civil manner.

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OU Cousins BBQ… the last one

Well, the title says it all. My absolute favorite OU Cousins event of every year is done, and sadly, it will be my last as a student. I know I’ll always be welcome in the future, but it was the last one that I will ever help fully plan and execute. As you can probably tell, I’m a very sentimental person.

I’m sure I have said some variant of this every spring when the BBQ comes around, but I find the Cousins BBQ to be extremely important for all international cousins in attendance. It is an event where our hundreds of students are fully embraced by a loving Oklahoma family, and is probably the only opportunity for them to do so during their time here.

The longer I’ve been a student at OU, and especially when I was studying in Graz, I realized that many of our international students at OU live in a sort of echo chamber. OU campus is an enormous place, and it is very easy for our international students to get comfortable with other students from their home countries or other international students and stay there. Many of them rarely leave campus, because they have basically every thing they need there.

Part of me wishes that we could have the BBQ earlier in the year so that the students who stick to OU campus can see the other opportunities that Norman and Oklahoma have to offer, but I recognize that logistically, it simply wouldn’t work.

One of the biggest challenges for international students remains that it’s often difficult for them to make friends with our American students. The United States can be very intimidating, let alone Americans themselves. We’re loud, we’re talkative, and we often aren’t aware of or don’t understand the intricacies of other cultures–although I know firsthand that many of us try our hardest. All of these things make it difficult for international students to approach Americans, and also for Americans to approach international students.

All of these things, as well as many more, are why the OU Cousins BBQ is so important to our international students, and also why it is so important to me.

The BBQ was a great success, as it always is. The food was amazing, the band was rocking, and the company astounding. I will never forget it.

 

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Held

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkg4IH1Zp64

Another song that I remember vividly from my dad’s funeral was this song by Natalie Grant. And this is really one of the only songs that I feel so close to my dad with. It is so cool that music connects me to my dad and is a way for me to feel like even though after 9 years, I still have something special with my dad.

It is weird to think that he has been gone so long but it is also something that think has defined who I am today. I love that my dad and I had such a special relationship and I believe that he made me who I am today even though I was so young when he passed away. He made me have a sense of adventure in my life and to never do something that doesn’t make happy. He taught me to be generous to everyone and to love everyone around me. And especially, to be compassionate towards all people. He could talk to anyone about their problems and he really knew what he was talking about when he helped everyone.

As this is one of my last blog posts for this class, I have truly realized that I have so much more potential than I could’ve imagined. As well, it has definitely shown me that I am way more obsessed with music than I realized. Honestly I might keep using this blog as a way to talk about what is going on in my life as well as just be able to speak without being judged for what I am saying.

I Wanna Go Home

Whenever I go somewhere that is not Norman, I never want to come back. I don’t really understand why… but I am a person who gets so comfortable so fast in one place and having to go somewhere else makes me really upset.

For instance, this weekend I was invited by my sweet friend Katherine to her house in Dallas for a crawfish boil and I have had seriously so much fun, and to be honest, I do not want to go back to Norman. No ounce of me does.

I’m not sure if it’s just Norman that I don’t want to come back to, or just the fact that I love places like Dallas and Houston that are so big and also being at a home. I love being in homes cause it feels so comfortable, and to think that I have to go back to the dorms tonight makes me so upset.

But I keep reminding myself that it will be 2 weeks in Norman and then I am back home. I cannot wait to be back in Texas and be back in my house. I still don’t know what my future holds in store for me but I am seriously so thankful for what I have been given and all of the people I have been introduced to.

It’s so hard because I miss home so much and just really wish that I could be there right now, but I need to keep in mind that I need to enjoy the rest of the semester and try to enjoy it as much as possible because next semester I might not be at OU.

Spanish Club

This past semester I have continued with Spanish Club, which has been a really cool experience. Getting to be around other people who either know Spanish or are learning it has helped with my own knowledge of the language and it has just overall been a really fun experience. It has been a great way for me to get plugged in and to meet people around campus!

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Global Engagement Day

On April 4, 2018, Global Engagement Day was held at the University of Oklahoma. This day offered lots of sessions with a variety of people talking about different aspects of studying abroad. I attended the first session, which was Independent Study Abroad Options.  This session was really beneficial for me, and I was enjoyed being able to hear about others who took trips, but it also helped me to gain some knowledge into what type of studying abroad I would actually like to do. After hearing stories of people going abroad independently, I realized two things: 1. I am super stoked to actually be able to travel abroad sometime in the next few years, and 2. Independent study abroad is definitely not for me. The thought of leaving the country is enough for me, let alone doing so alone. Regardless of this, it was still a super cool opportunity to hear people talk and also just to hear about more opportunities for studying abroad!

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International Careers

Since I am about halfway through both of my majors, I feel pretty confident saying that I made the right choice in my studies. Other degrees still tempt me when I hear students discussing their projects, but it is always my math and German homework that hold my attention and spark my curiosity, even when I’m so frustrated I could throw my textbook across the room. Now that I am settled in my studies, so to speak, my thoughts have been turning to plans after college. The semesters flip by in a blink and I don’t want to be caught at the end of my senior year with no idea where I want to go and what I want to do.

In a way, the Global Engagement Fellowship has made my decision both easier and more difficult at the same time. My increasing language skills and experience with international cultures mean that I am not confined to working within the United States. Rather, I could work with international companies from anywhere in the world. Here is where the choice becomes more difficult. In the face of such diverse options, how can I begin even to consider them? If I decide to pursue a graduate degree, do I turn first to the U.S., Germany, or to another country entirely? Although my attention this time of year is almost fully devoted to my studies, these broader questions lingering in the back of my mind about the future will certainly receive plenty of attention this summer and this fall.

Der Wunder von Bern

One of the key components of learning a foreign language is being able to understand the language as spoken by native speakers. It can be challenging to gain this experience of hearing extensive German conversations spoken by proficient speakers in the classroom. Fortunately, once a semester, each German class watches a German film. This semester, since there wasn’t enough time in class, one of the German GTAs put on a small event for viewing the film, Der Wunder von Bern, for any students in German 1225 interested in attending. It’s a rare experience for me to be able to hear German spoken as it was in the film. Although there were English subtitles, if I focused exclusively on the German that was spoken, it was remarkable to realize that I could follow a reasonable portion of the dialogs. This experience definitely motivated me to begin watching more media in German, whether using the dubbing offered by services such as Netflix or searching out original German films and TV shows.

The experience of watching Der Wunder von Bern was remarkable, not only for the opportunity of watching a film where the only language spoken was German, but also because the film focused on two critical aspects of German culture: the German recovery from World War 2 and Soccer. The story follows the 1954 German National Team during the World Cup as they attempt to overcome all the odds and bring the championship to Germany. Although I knew that soccer was of enormous importance in Germany, I had no idea the extent to which, at least at this period in history, it defined their national identity. Besides documenting the German love of soccer, the film also highlighted the fact that in the years following their victory in the 1954 World Cup, Germany began a massive economic recovery that would ultimately bring Germany to its current state as an economic powerhouse in the modern world. Der Wunder von Bern viewing party hosted in Kaufmann Hall by Frau Rodriguez was an educating experience that enriched my knowledge of both German language and culture.