By Fallon Winters
On our second day in France we got an insiders look at the primarily immigrant neighborhood in Toulouse. Arnaud Bernard features Moroccan stores, cafes which serve delicious Moroccan Tea, and offers a generally different feel than the rest of the city. Professor Touhami led us through the streets and pointed out important landmarks while informing us about the area’s rich history. Originally a neighborhood where Jewish and Spanish immigrants settled in Toulouse, remnants of each culture are visible in the street names and architecture. We listened to Prof. Touhami’s personal stories about migration while sipping tea on the plaza in the middle of the neighborhood, and our French speaking students had their first experience with translating!
Prof. Touhami was born in Morocco and now lives in France. He spoke to us about his family’s roots in Moroccan culture, and left us with a better understanding of how immigrants have been navigating life in Europe. Professionally, he focuses on the correlation between mental illness and immigration. The combination of poverty and isolation that is experienced by many migrants, he said, is a recipe for damaging psychological effects. An often stigmatized problem, mental illness was an effect of migration that most of us had yet to think about. After our talk and afternoon spent walking around, we ventured forward in our journey with a better understanding of the significant and pervasive effects of immigration.
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