In a gathering of teachers, a friend of mine asked us to think about this question. I'm not about transmitting American culture. Don't get me wrong- I think American culture is great. In America. But I've studied too much about cultures, and species, and what happens when an invasive species enters another area. Inevitably, competitive exclusion occurs, and one species, usually the indigenous one, is forced out or into extinction. That's what I see here in Morocco, with growing Western influence, be it French or American. Moroccan culture is slowly disappearing. To say transforming is to be too kind- it is being overwhelmed by the global, American-dominated society. I don't want to be part of the destruction of the culture. Even if there are aspects of the culture here (as there are in every culture) that are imperfect, I want to be part of helping people grow within their culture, not without it. Any other road leads to syncretism.
Part of moving to another country involves the death of oneself, and the death of culture, that you have grown accustomed to, in order to better love those around you. I've read recently that no one can follow me unless they pick up their cross. I think that's what living overseas is all about, in the best of times.
So then, why am I here? Just before our meeting the other day, I had been at school, passing two junior high kids who were about to get into a fight. Seeing me coming, a third kid started to dance inbetween them, to try to make it appear that the three of them were just playing around. Of course, I saw this. Then one of the two fighting saw me and quickly put his arm around his antagonist, saying, "Kain Ustad, kain Ustad!" "There's a teacher here!" Again, trying to hide the fight. So I said, "Eiwa, kain Ustad. U Ustad kayfahem Arabi. U Ustad kayshuf kulshi." "Yes, there is a teacher. And he understands Arabic. And he sees all." That shocked them enough, to know I had understood them, and they started laughing. No more fight.
A couple days ago, I broke up my first female fight. Walking home, a young teenage girl fell right in front of me. I thought she had fallen, but then realized that another girl had pushed her down, and now she was crying. It is incredibly rare here for women to come to blows on the street; even yelling at each other is more rare than with men. I wanted to help the woman who had fallen, but of course, it would be inappropriate to touch her, except in extreme circumstances, so I limited myself to just asking if she was alright. During this time, as a crowd gathered, the other woman continued to berate her, raising the accused's ire, and both were soon at it again. I stepped between them, asking what they were doing- are they men, that they fight so? The others around were pointing at me, and telling the two fighters, "For shame- the foreigner is right." Eventually, the two women separated and went their separate ways.
Long ago, I was briefly part of a spin-off of the Toronto Blessing Church. While I have found many unfortunate aspects to that movement, there are also positives- like their focus on signs, wonders, and prophesy. While visiting the Toronto Blessing Church, a man prophesied over me that I would be a peace maker. Honestly, I haven't seen it. Sometimes here, I think I fight for the other side, to my shame. I am too impatient at times. Or too concerned with others' safety. Perhaps that prophesy is beginning to be fulfilled. I think that's why I'm here- to be a peace maker.