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Between the Lines: A Reflection by Maïsa Farid

As our current cohort of Between the Lines students continue to live, write, study, and engage one another in Iowa City, we thought it was a great time to share this guest blog post from one of last year's BTL students, Maïsa Farid, who came to Iowa last summer from Morocco. 


BTL changed me; I feel I've become another person. I've gained so much confidence in myself and become brave enough to call myself a writer. Indeed, I am a writer now; I gave myself a new definition of pen, blank paper, and written lines.

The pen is my sword, I control it, I can use it as a weapon, I can do whatever I want with it.

It's true I was afraid of a blank page of paper, thinking it meant failure, but in Iowa City, I learned that sometimes a blank paper reflects our thoughts for the moment. That blank white colour is not shameful; maybe our brain is blank, too. A blank paper also means freedom, of speech and thoughts.

Written lines are an achievement, a success. They show us that what we can do is limitless, that we have power over words.

Since I’ve been home, people have asked, “What did you learn during your ‘journey’?” Lost in the American dream, my answer is, "Well, many things!" Probably because I feel lazy speaking about the many things I've actually learned about writing, writers, the U.S., friends, living on my own, being independent and responsible for myself.

Returning to my motherland, I still feel so empty. I miss the friends I had, they were true friends, and I’m thankful I can find them by my side when I need them. Even though we’re miles apart, they can comfort me with words, and words have a magic effect that only writers can find. Although some of them are older than me, we’ve found a way to have a beautiful friendship. Writers have a beautiful liaison between themselves.

To be truthful, I was scared at first. It was my first time being away from my parents for such a long time. I also thought I'd not be taken seriously, but I was truly surprised: The staff was amazing, my teacher was awesome, and my fellow writers were young but experienced, pushing me to think I was experienced too. Eventually, words became a game for me, a serious game with no rules except the ones I make.

No matter what I write, I will never be able to describe my feelings, then and now. I'll always remember BTL as a program that helped me meet life outside. I'll also remember that BTL came at a time when I thought I was the least fortunate girl on the planet, drowning in my own problems.

If I could go back to Iowa City and Between the Lines, I would definitely book the first flight I could find. That’s going to be after graduation, God willing!


Maïsa Farid (BTL 2011) is from Morocco, where she is a student at the Faculty of Science and Technology in Tangier. She intends to study chemical engineering and is working on a novel she plans to title A Million Pictures of Love.

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