Have you been to a developing country? Marrakesh, Morocco is fairly developed but it was still very different from home. This trip was my first time experiencing culture shock. Before going, I skimmed over the information about culture shock provided from Waterloo International. I remember thinking to myself, “Culture shock will never happen to me, I’m open minded and will adjust quickly.” When Hadi and I landed in Morocco it was geographically different – there was certainly no maple trees or geese around! There were cultural differences – it was hot out and I couldn’t see anyone’s knees. There were also kilometres of markets that had the highest level of craftsmanship I’ve ever seen – everything was so intricate. There were handmade carpets, woodwork, carved marble sculptures, beautiful fabrics, ceramics and leather bags and shoes.
I noticed the details that set the level of Marrakesh’s development apart from home. More specifically, there was a man selling shoes out of the back of his van, there were kids following us around so that they could pretend to give us directions for money, there weren’t many public trashcans, everyone was riding their motorcycles without a helmet, there weren’t well defined sidewalks and there was a pile of dirt in the middle of the highway blocking the road. A natural thought for me at COP was how can Marrakesh could develop sustainably. At first I pictured some sort of green industrial revolution but then I thought a bit deeper and tried to picture a scenario where Moroccans kept their level of craftsmanship and healthy relationship with work. I started to wonder if there was a way for Morocco to increase its economic growth while maintaining its vibrant culture. I had a hard time picturing it so I talked to someone at COP from the area about it and he said that some of the tangible crafts may be lost but that the mindset behind them could remain. It’s hard to put into words but being in Marrakesh made me rethink what development looks like. I look forward to seeing how Marrakesh, and similar cities, increase their economic growth while keeping in mind both the cultural and sustainability aspects.
This line of thinking also relates to questioning our role, as a developed country, in helping developing countries progress. It has been recognized that developed countries are largely responsible for climate change and under the Paris Agreement, they need to provide financial support. Seeing the contrasting social and cultural aspects between Morocco and home, helped me understand that if we’re going to try to help we need to have an open mind. We can’t just provide developing countries with finalized technology. We need to include them in the design process so that their ideas and values are expressed. We need to collaborate, and if we do, I’m positive that both parties will learn and grow.
This piece was written by Kayla Hardie
Kayla is currently studying physics and computer science at the University of Waterloo. Kayla is also studying energy access research and is interested in bridging the gap between science and policy.