This is Amina, my host mom from my first Arabic program in Morocco back in 2004.
This photo is from 2007 when we showed up at her door unannounced on our way home from a year in Mali. We rang her bell, she popped her head out the kitchen window to see who it was and literally screamed with delight when she saw us. Which promptly made me cry tears of happiness. (I'm crying just thinking about it now.) She hurried us in, made sweet mint tea, fed us until our stomachs ached, laughed at our stories about the past year in West Africa.
Even though we were still several thousand miles from home, it felt like coming home.
When we moved back to Morocco in 2008, again, we got off the plane, off the train, and went straight to her house where we were welcomed, again, with her open arms and tea and snacks and love and laughter. We wound up renting an apartment literally right next door to her and it was the best part of living there. Having this family right next door. There were parts of that year that were rough-- I often felt lonely, lost, isolated, unsure of my career, my place in the world-- but she was the light. Steven knew, if I was starting to sink into a slump, to nudge me next door. Because even just half an hour of helping her peel vegetables for Friday couscous would lift me.
She is the epitome of hospitality to me. I think of her, truly, almost every day as I run this hotel. I aim to have a heart as open as hers for every stranger who walks through our doors.
And she's just one of SO MANY Muslims who have welcomed me and Steven into their homes throughout our travels. So it just makes me heart sick and disgusted that we as a country are turning our backs on Muslims right now. Fuck the Muslim ban. Fuck the wall. Fuck the black heart of the Trump Administration.
I still believe that people are, deep down, good, and that's because of the way I have been welcomed into so many people's lives across the world. So here's to hoping that the American government will open its heart and borders again.