Dear Wellesley: Our Summer Postcard Series Begins with Catherine Puga '17 Writing from Rabat, Morocco

July 8, 2016
A postcard on a table shows Catherine Puga '17 in Rabat Morocco

In the first of our 2016 Summer Postcard Series, Catherine Puga '17 writes from Rabat, Morocco, where she’s participating in a Global Engagement Internship through Wellesley's Center for Work and Service. Catherine’s internship is supported by the Susan Rappaport Knafel '52 Internship Fund.

Dear Wellesley,

Greetings from Rabat, Morocco! Rabat is the political capital of Morocco and it is a beautiful, breezy city on the Atlantic Coast. I am living and working in the old medina. Most cities in Morocco have two parts, the old medina and the new, more modern part of the city. Rabat's medina is young compared to many others in Morocco, it was built in the 12th century.

Living with a host family has introduced me to the wonders of Moroccan food and television (I now know the entire introduction for Moroccan Punk'd). It is Ramadan, the month in Islam that commemorates the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan and the days are long, slow, and hot. However, every night I break the fast with my family and everyone stays up late to eat, watch TV, and walk along the beach. There are lots of special Ramadan foods and I've made it a personal goal to try every single one of them. So far, my favorites are harira (a soup with chickpeas and lentils) and chebakia (fried cookies covered in honey and sesame seeds). I have two weeks to go and lots to eat.

My host family has involved me in their daily lives; I help my host mom cook, go on walks with my host sister, and play checkers with my host brother. We also spend a lot of time visiting family and friends and there are lots of babies to hold and play with.

I am an intern at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning (CCCL). The center is located in a beautiful riad in the medina. Essentially, a riad is a multistory house built around a courtyard or garden. One of my favorite places to sit and work is in the courtyard, looking out on the beautiful mosaic floor. The CCCL does a lot of different things; they organize and host study abroad programs, partner with local NGOs to place volunteers, and host cultural events. I've been doing different things, like preparing schedules for arriving students, visiting different volunteer sites and interviewing volunteers, working on the website, and learning to use a French keyboard. I love everyone I work with; every Friday (when it isn't Ramadan), everyone sits and eats couscous together. It is exciting to learn more about how non-profits and educational institutions operate outside of the US.

When I'm not working, I'm exploring Rabat and the rest of Morocco. After work and over the weekends, I go on long walks throughout the city and I've discovered beautiful art galleries, fun restaurants, and cool shops. I've visited Fez and Casablanca and have lots of trips planned. There are so many things to see and do and not nearly enough time.

Expect me back in the fall, Wellesley, a little bit tan, a lot wiser, and ready to devour weekend brunch!