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The Eyes are the Window to the Soul (and maybe the Heart)

By: Ellie Frist

During the second night of the rural stay in the Tisfane area, we had a marketing meeting to figure out the best way we could help the women’s cooperative there. At the meeting, we had a discussion about the difference between what is a marketplace versus what advertising on social media platforms is. In addition, there was a lively debate about the ability to be able to transport said materials to different places.

It became evident during the meeting that we had some different ideas on how we should best be helping the women in the co-op, which was frustrating at times. Yet, we all wanted the same objective—to serve the women of the cooperative.

After our dialogue surrounding the previous topics, the presentation started again where it had left off. However, my attention was immediately captured by a commotion in the back—one of the mothers had brought her baby girl into the meeting. At first, she stayed in the back corner of the room, trying not to draw attention to herself and her little girl. One of the other women had noticed them, though (after the baby giggled) and invited her to sit with us, which made me a little giddy.

I have never been much of a baby person, but there was something about this little girl that just made my heart jump a little. I didn’t know what it was, but as soon as she was placed next to me, it made sense. Her eyes locked with mine—both filled with intense curiosity at the world around her. I quite literally couldn’t bring myself to look away, as I, too, was intrigued by the little being in front of me. I imagine it is what animals that have never encountered each other experience when they run across each other’s paths. At times, one of us would break this gaze to look at the room around us.

Yet, I could feel each time her eyes landed on my face, and I would immediately look back at her. She would smile and reach out her hands at me, and I felt so validated in those moments. It was a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time. It was a sense of purpose larger than myself.

This feeling was so animalistic—almost like a pack animal. For example, Orcas will help take care of each other’s young ones if it is needed. I got this same feeling with the women of the village. They were all wanting to hold the baby, treating the young girl as if she was their own. It struck deep inside of me, as this practice is lost in America. In the United States, especially with the pandemic, we have turned to an isolationist system.

We continue to rely less on our community to help and more on paid individuals or think we can tackle the problems ourselves. I wonder what would happen if Americans decided to take on the pack mentality again if we treated our other kin like our own. While this might be wishful thinking, I believe it would greatly benefit American society—especially after being locked away for two-plus years due to COVID-19.

All these thoughts were running through my head, but I was quickly drawn back to reality when the little baby stuck her hand in her mouth and looked at me. Naturally, I did the same thing, and we both broke into huge smiles. Her mother's face met mine as I had my finger hooked in my mouth.

While we didn’t speak the same language, I felt that we understood each other at that moment. We both wanted to see this little blob of a being in her lap smile and laugh. It served as a reminder that while we are all different, we are truly all of the same earth.

We are all connected through little moments in time—while sometimes they might seem futile—that have the ability to change the way we view the world/Looking back on the moment, I think I started to uncover why I am here. I have been wondering what exactly brought me all the way to Morocco.It was in engaging with this child that I began to feel something light up inside of me… (to be continued).

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