Over the course of our time on our worksite laying concrete for the school sports field, our relationships with the Moroccan workers went from non-existent to friendly and productive.
At the beginning of the second week, the Moroccans started to readily ask us to do specific tasks. This was awesome. In particular, we appreciated that they stopped “stealing” jobs from us girls — the previous week they would come up to one of us, motion towards our tool, mime handing it over in order so they could explain how to do it right, and then proceed to complete the job themselves.
In a largely Muslim country, the fact that the Moroccan male construction crew came to respect us American teenagers — including us women — enough to do “good” work and our own share of the work — was a remarkable achievement. In hindsight, however, I think the men’s willingness to treat us as peers spoke to their general willingness to welcome us and their willingness to be flexible about how to accomplish the tasks at hand — perhaps even more than it spoke to our persistence and dedicated work effort on the site.
At one point at the end of the second week I was discussing all that we had accomplished so far with Fahrid, one of the men at the worksite and the homestay “Father” of several of our group.
Fahrid and I spoke (in French) about how we were almost done with the main project and how hard everyone had been working. Then he turned to look me in the eye and said, “You girls worked really hard.” He then mused, “You girls are not as strong as the boys, but you take the same number of breaks. The girls, you are good, different and harder working than Moroccan girls.”
He paused. “Well,” he conceded, “maybe they could do it too.”