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Facing Inadequacy & the Value of Relationships

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By Eman A., YES Abroad 2017-2018, Morocco, from Ypsilanti, MI

A few weeks ago, it hit me that soon I’d really be leaving the place where I’ve spent one of my most formative years. Here, in Rabat, so casually located off of the Atlantic, I’ve come to learn about facing true challenges, not just the ones that have been formulated during my exchange through cultural and academic interactions, but also those that have transcended into my exchange from past experiences. One example is feelings of anxiety and at many times a lack of self-confidence.

In the past I’ve dealt with feelings of anxiety by closing myself off to others in times of stress, but coming to Morocco, I’ve learned that this can often tatter relationships. Relationships in Morocco are important, they are the basis of many interactions and occurrences that I have experienced ranging from my ability to start a mural at my school to visiting the literature faculty at the local university. I’ve had a long-held tendency to push others away, but through my exchange year I’ve learned to embrace the help and support of those around me and trust them enough to see my failures and often my inadequacies.

A great example of this is my internship, or stage, at the Cheikh Zaid Hospital. Relationships are actually how I managed to get here. For the past month, I’ve learned about the healthcare system in Morocco, which although very similar in basic aspects to the American system, is quite different, especially in insurance policies and work methods. As a part of my internship, I stayed with the auditing department, which may seem small or unimportant in comparison to the work done by physicians, but is actually very important to the functioning of the hospital. I observed routine tests performed daily through different wards, like the invoicing for medical procedures or the processes of dealing with expired checks.

But before I was able to learn about the functioning of the hospital, I was struck by the fact that I was absolutely inadequate to play the role I was cast in. Although my internship required no medical experience, I quickly realized how lacking my knowledge was in the field of auditing. I also came to realize how inadequate my linguistic abilities were. I knew French nearly fluently, and for the past eight months I’ve made a lot of progress in the local dialect of Arabic, but that didn’t apply to these concepts that seem to have a specialized language.

Despite these obvious setbacks, the Moroccans I worked with were willing to guide me by teaching me aspects of the healthcare system that allowed me to visualize the role of components that make up a hospital, all with a certain hospitality and generosity that Moroccans are known for. Through the communication skills I’ve acquired during my time on exchange, I was able to build relationships with my coworkers and mentors that not only facilitated my learning, but also allowed me to joke with them about my imminent “Americanness” or the almost constant patience they had with me along the way.

At such a young age, not many can say they’ve had this opportunity, and although I can take a lot from this internship into a future career, I learned that facing my inadequacy requires using the relationships you have and sometimes building them when they don’t exist. It requires a certain amount of courage to express the fact that you don’t understand and that you need help. And perhaps above all, it requires patience with others and yourself in a journey of learning and sharing.