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Journals from AUCP Marseille- Spring 2008

2008-04-28 I wonder if Pippi would have felt this awkward.

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The arrest.

This morning, for my Immigrant Identities class, Madame Hamouda decided to take us on a field trip into some of the poorer immigrant neighborhoods of Marseille. I don't believe I've ever felt so awkward in my life. Dancing in front of four year-olds is one thing; being in a group of thirteen American girls, the others of whom are chattering away loudly and snapping tons of photos all at the same time is quite another. I tried to dress pretty low-key, but others wore big hoop earrings and fancy jackets, and one even wore a miniskirt over some leggings. The fact that we looked unbelievably American was one thing, but being in such a huge group in general was so embarrassing-- we were obviously American students, and I felt so ashamed when people would look at us with disgust and shame, like we were studying them... which we kind of were. What an odd feeling. The worst part? Being in such a huge group attracted attention, and then guess who got the brunt of that attention once it was directed at us? The redhead. Of course. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and I hated it. Every time we passed a young man, they'd whistle at all of us and then see me and say, "Ah, que vous etes jolie, ma petite rousse!" ("Oh, you are so pretty, my little redhead!") "Vous, avec les cheveux rouges, comment vous vous appellez, ma cherie?" ("You, with the red hair, what's your name, my dear?") "Venez avec moi, vous la rousse, j'ai quelque chose a vous montrer!" ("Come with me, you the redhead, I have something to show you!") Ugh! And now that I've sat here and processed all this a bit more, I'm mad! I didn't want the attention we were getting in the first place, just because we were a big group. I wasn't the one who dressed all fancy. I wasn't the one who was flashy about taking photos. I just wanted to blend in, but there was no way that was going to happen because of my hair. I've always loved my hair, but man, that wasn't fun at all. I'm actually thinking of VERY temporarily dyeing my hair for our week in Morocco. When I was there in eighth grade, I remember that a bunch of kids in the Fez Medina made fun of it. And now that I'm older, and not just a girl, I don't want to attract any unnecessary attention, seeing as I'm already a woman who's clearly an outsider. We'll see; I need to think about it more. Despite the embarrassment and very unwanted attention, it was quite the experience. We ate really good couscous for lunch, with mint tea and Algerian pastries for dessert, and saw some incredible things. Like an arrest. That was crazy. We also saw someone marching up and down a little, dirty market street yelling, "Who looks after Marseille? ALLAH!" over and over again. I did love going in all the spice shops and markets, though. The smells and colors everywhere... Though Morocco is going to be a week of similar embarrassment, I am looking forward to it, certainly.

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