100 posts, and counting

I started this blog on a quiet day at my job two—or was it three?—years ago. In any case it was before I knew for sure I’d be here, which is why the title has no obvious connection to Morocco, Casablanca, the Rotary, or travel. Oh well, it’s fitting enough and easily translatable to derija: “shouiya bshouiya.” I tried to add “…gaouria” to the end once, but it messed up the formatting.

Blogging is too easy, which paradoxically makes it hard for those of us who like to think we have decent writing skills. Every blogger I’ve talked to has been at first paralyzed by the fear of writing something mediocre. You can proofread something ten times before publishing it and still cringe when you read it a week later.

You know what else cranks up the pressure? Knowing that somewhere in the world people who have never been to Morocco read this and other blogs to get an expert-ish opinion, and elsewhere, Moroccans are reading the same thing. Gulp.

One of the most interesting aspects of blogging about Morocco has been the feedback I’ve gotten from my Moroccan friends, especially my classmates at MAMAS. My favorite classes at Ben M’Sik focus on theories of travel and specifically travel writing by Americans in Morocco. I am the only American in the program and I happen to write a blog about my experiencelivinginMoroccoforayear©. Awkward? Not really, even though our professor occasionally cracks jokes about the Orientalist in their midst. He and all my classmates know I blog, which adds pressure to be sure but also makes me feel slightly superior to the colonial commentators that came before me. Suck on that, Edith Wharton.

“If you’re just joining us,” here are some favorite posts from the last few years.
-Casablanca: Why I love to take the bus
-Favorite book review: the Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes you a Happy Birthday: Unexpected Encounters in the Changing Middle East by Neil McFarquhar
-Ode to MAMAS: What is the value of cultural exchange?
-Women and Islam: An American woman reflects on her daughter’s wish to wear the Hijab
-Urban policy: Promoting “social cohesion” through urban policy
-Casablanca and Chicago: Chicago Hope

As I reach the halfway point of my stay in Casablanca (I know, right?) it’s time for a little reevaluation and, why not, some resolutions.

In the next six months, you, dear readers, can expect to see guest posts by some of my classmates at MAMAS. Their wide range of experiences and backgrounds should give you an idea of how difficult it is to present a coherent picture of an entire country or even city. I can talk about my own life here, but when it comes to others, a patchwork approach makes the most sense.

As I recommit to learning derija, you can also expect to see more proverbs and songs. I have a few in mind already but still have to enlist some friends to help me translate.

My reading list grows longer by the day, and I’ll be able to share with you some interesting tidbits about Casablanca and its history. Eventually I’ll be doing a formal research project on something related to urban development in Casablanca, but I have yet to really narrow down my topic. Parks? Transportation? Housing?

In exchange for this wealth of information, enlightened cultural commentary, and generally brilliant observations (!), allow me to ask you all a couple of favors.

Keep those comments and ratings coming. It’s helpful for me to get your impressions, and as I said earlier the beauty of blogs is in their almost real-time interactive format. You can’t talk back to a book, and even less to a dead author. Sorry, Edith Wharton.

My mom would not approve of such self-promotion, but…please visit moroccoblogs.com and vote for Petit à Petit as the “best blog of Morocco.” Feel free to check out the other guys, which are definitely worth a look, but uh, yeah, vote for me.

Thanks for reading.

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