The Other

On Friday, March 15, 2019, I understood my otherness in Morocco most clearly.

This is the day we visited the most amazing structure in Morocco, the Hassan II Mosque. This is also the day that a gunman killed fifty worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. On a day when all of the faithful of Islam were grieving and wondering how such madness can exist in the world, I, a white American woman, and not a muslim, was welcomed into one of the most holy places on Earth. I was fully, wholeheartedly welcomed into the peace and beauty of a mosque that was built by all the people of Morocco.

Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca

Morocco is 99% muslim. They all contributed to the building of the mosque. They all have ownership. And, I, the other, someone who stands out as obviously different, walked among them in peace, feeling only the deep spirituality of the place, and seeing beauty in every nook and cranny of it. It was solemn on a level I cannot fully communicate. Everyone I met in Morocco on this very day was kind, welcoming, and full of care for their fellow humans. No matter that I was an American. No matter that my whiteness, my “otherness,” was so obvious.

Think about that. I did.

Detail outside the mosque, finding beauty in the imperfection of every intricate pattern


Most of the time, I am simply "Mrs. Olmos," a busy classroom teacher in a rural district in Southwest Washington State. I teach English, WA State History and Drama to students that range from grades 7-12. I believe in allowing students to use their own creativity and individual voices to enrich learning experiences in my classroom. A typical day in my room includes student-led conversations, collaborative projects, and art supplies. Beyond the classroom, I dedicate myself to many areas of educational leadership. Currently, I am a Fulbright Teacher for Global Classrooms and a member of the leadership team for the Washington Teacher Advisory Council. I am proud to be a National Board Certified Teacher, and a facilitator for National Board Candidate cohorts. Over the years, I have served on committees, panels and cohorts at the district, state and national level. My areas of interest include English Language Arts standards, curriculum and assessment, teacher preparation and certification, equity in rural education, project-based learning, and arts-integrated instruction. In my spare time, I have dogs, horses and and a husband to share my life on a small farm surrounded by green hills and rivers. It's a beautiful life.

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