I had a wonderful opportunity this past week. The head-hunter organization that found me the teaching job in Morocco now runs its own teams of teachers, and they do the training up in Pasadena. My friend Heather mentioned to them that I was in the area, and they invited me to come up and share some of my experiences. On Tuesday I shared about gender dynamics, between expatriates and between expatriates and nationals. I told the women they should all go in full hijab, with just the eyes showing. (There will be four women going to my old school, GWA. In a month we'll see how much my teaching messed them up.)
On Friday I shared with Kristi about my time there, and also lead a discussion based on the PBS documentary Islam: Empire of Faith. This is the same video I tried to show at GWA during Ramadan, but the students were uninterested, electing to watch more movies like Hellraiser during the time of fasting and prayer. It is a great overview of Islam, with good visuals, if a bit biased in favor of the faith. (Only positive aspects are shown, rather than the traditional scholarly approach of showing both positive and negative aspects of a faith, as Christianity is usually treated.)
It was really great to be able to contribute a little bit to of my past experiences, to help them out as they went into a bold frontier. However, thankfully, I wasn't the only one doing so. When we came to gender dynamics, in the discussion of dealing with Moroccan men, I shared one way to respond to a pushy man. If you're a guy, with a woman, tell the Moroccan man, "She's with me." And immediately he backs away, apologizing. I told them the Arabic is, "heeya ma'ak."
It's a good thing another teacher working in the country was there beside me. It's been two years since I spoke Arabic regularly. I had accidentally told the guys to say to a Moroccan man, "She's with you." I should have said, "heeya ma'ya." Without that correction, it could have lead to some interesting in-country times indeed.