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Postcard from Abroad: Tamara Matheson

in Campus Journal/Postcards from Abroad by

Dear Campus Journal,

After the inauguration, I spent all of my free time at home vigilantly watching the news, calling my representatives, reading about nonviolent resistance, and generally trying my best to break through what seemed to be one bad fever dream of a week. As executive orders rolled in, my list of concerns grew. On Jan. 28, as I was boarding the plane I felt almost frantic about how to continue to fight for the things and the people I love, from all the way across the ocean. On a day that includes travelling to Ohio, Michigan, Paris, and finally Morocco, I was insulated from the updates and the protests, getting only the most basic facts from glimpses of CNN playing without subtitles at the airport. I worry about how to keep the people that matter to me close, torn between wanting to immerse myself in this experience and the urge to militantly hold on to the things (and people) that matter most to me.

It feels impossible for me to tune out the decision making that hurts some of my best friends, their families, and mine. Yet, as I spend my days six hours ahead of the news cycle, with internet service only some of the time, it feels impossible for me to catch it all. I’m doing my best to fall in love with Rabat because I feel incredibly grateful to be here. So far, I’ve seen a sunset that took my breath away, attempted some very laughable Arabic, and can smell the sea if I pay close enough attention. I would split myself in two trying to hold everything together, but that’s not going to stop me from trying – at least to the best of my ability. As one of my instructors pointed out, we’re never going to be detached from our positionality.

Most of us are American, a fact that is very obvious to everyone as we walk through the medina. The guy who set up my SIM card at the phone store googled “bigly” to test if the internet was working. The knowledge about what’s going on is definitely here and I find it comforting. In the last few days I’ve had so many conversations about this feeling, this urge to hold on, that leads me to believe that I’m not the only one thinking it.  I can’t be detached from what is happening because here, I am American, no matter my conflicting emotions. It informs so much about the way that I am seen, and how others interact with me.

I was worried that going abroad and “immersing myself” in this experience meant leaving behind the uncertainties at home. A few days in, and I’m realizing that those things do not have to be mutually exclusive. I may not be able to protest or call my senators every day, but I can still stay informed, I can send emails, and I can find other ways to engage. To be present here sometimes means that I feel frustrated, unable to stretch myself enough to make the changes I feel like I need to. But from six hours ahead and 3710 miles away, Black lives still matter, water is still life, women’s rights are still human rights, and banning refugees and turning our backs on immigrants is still not America.

I love you guys. No matter what this administration says, no matter how much they try to erase you, you matter. I love you and I will fight for you in any way I can. If you need me, please know that I’m here. Swat I love you.

 

Beslama, Tamara

 

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