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Learning Arabic One T-shirt at a Time with Moth Written //

12.24.09
bylgoode

maryandnabilMoth Written’s line of Arabic t-shirts, tote bags, pins and handbags strives to create positive dialogue about the Arabic-speaking world through bright, gentle quirk. One of their many slogans: “By learning one word, we take a small step towards bridging the gap between East and West.” Meet Mary E. Robbins and Nabil Sibouih, the team behind these designs you’re going to love.

ON HOW THEY MET
Mary: You will smile. Nabil, initially, was my very kind and very platonic host brother during my first stay in Morocco as a study abroad student. I arrived in Rabat eight days before 9/11. I was eating lunch with the family when I saw the twin towers falling on an Al-Jazeera special report. Living through this experience in Morocco affected my worldview and life in a very deep and personal way, and brought me very close to homestay family.  At the end of my first stay, I knew that I would be back.  And just about a year later, I was. During my senior year Christmas break from studies at NYU, I traveled back to Morocco on my own to visit my family.  Much to my GREAT surprise, it was during this trip that Nabil and I found ourselves falling in love.

During my final semester at NYU, through many emails and phone calls I secured a job at the American Language Center in Rabat, beginning in September following my graduation. And that is just what I did. I graduated, went to Spain for a teacher’s training course, and went straight back to Morocco where Nabil and I lived together and worked until we were married in late 2004.

FAVORITE ARABIC WORD? AND WHY?
Nabil: الناس معادن — People are metals. I don’t have a favorite word but I do love this expression. It is hard for me to explain it in English, but it basically speaks about humanity, and the good and bad in every culture.
Mary: الحق  — Truth.  I love monosyllabic words, and I love the simplicity and weight of the sound of this word in Arabic. Heavy, with importance.

ON THE FUTURE OF MOTH WRITTEN
Nabil: I would like to see Moth Written continue to grow, and to help people, in a small way, learn about the Arabic-speaking world.  We are all, in the end, human beings with feelings and experiences in common.
Mary: I would like to teach Nabil to silkscreen! And I would like to continue growing, take it as it comes, while remaining a small independent business.

alsabrWHAT MADE YOU THINK OF A DOG + A “CONE OF SHAME” FOR YOUR PATIENCE/ AL SABR DESIGN?
Mary: The image came first. On the day that Nabil was granted citizenship in the U.S., we celebrated by adopting our ridiculous dog, a retired greyhound named Gus. Having recently come out of surgery, Gus was given the ‘cone of shame’ to wear at home. This poor animal. If you have watched an animal in this predicament, you know what I mean. He, alas, was not patient at all, and found innumerous ways to remove the cone. Oh how I wished for him patience. And so. Patience it was.

WHERE YOU CAN GET MOTH WRITTEN
Our full event schedule is listed on our blog at www.maryerobbins.typepad.com. And, as always, you can order online at www.mothwritten.com. We look forward to seeing you!

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About the Author: Lori Goode keeps the dream alive moonlighting as a reviewer, while passing her days (and nights) near the nation’s halls of power in Washington, D.C.. Her experiences ranges from research to education but she’s always had a keen eye for the arts, particularly film.



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