Written by Mikhaila Lampert, Morocco 2017
What has eluded me, in the year-to-the-day since I departed for Morocco, has been a true finish to my trip. I had not been prepared for the constant reflections, the sudden reminder of a certain place, or rock formation or taxi experience – I had not counted on still being so invested in the past. Everyone thinks that a trip abroad, especially some sort of academically-related one, changes you – that you grow as a person, and then move on, with fond memories or funny stories to pull out at parties. What really happens is change on a daily basis because change is not limited to the time you spent away. Now, I find myself thinking about something ordinary, like what tea I should get at the store; and I remember a special blend of mint tea I bought in the medina in Rabat, and that it cost 10 dirham, and how I was so excited because this was the tea I’d been drinking all summer, and now I got to take some home. All of this flashes through my mind in an instant, as I’m standing in an aisle, staring at shelves of packaged products, and the moment has changed. I now have this obscure reference to mint tea that I will probably always vaguely remember, as I consider buying tea the rest of my life. It isn’t limited to one thing, either; almost everything I do now has a corresponding moment or story or something that I can connect to my time in Morocco. What does that say about the impact of a trip such as this? To me, it says that travelling with the purpose of getting to know a country is much more impactful. It means that the structure of this trip allows for much more bonding, research, exploring, and greatness that will compel you to dig that much deeper into that country and your topic, making the connection last a lifetime.
I cannot adequately express what this trip means to me (present-tense), or how it has impacted me. I know that I could not have made it there without the financial support of others, including the Knowledge Without Borders Scholarship. Trying to imagine myself without this trip is impossible. It is a part of who I am; it has shaped the way I think about myself, my peers, my country, my majors, my food choices – it extends into all aspects of my life. To think that I may not have had this experience because of something as shallow as money is to reduce the idea of this trip into something that is inconsequential. I thank Karen Collias and all the people at Knowledge Without Boarders, as well as SPAN, and all their donors for, perhaps unknowingly, presenting me with the opportunity to challenge myself and to learn to refine my goals. Thank you for allowing me to study something I’m passionate about, and for giving me the space to find a path and succeed. I hope that I may one day be able to help students like me, who are in need of something inspirational.