Name: Hamza Benhmani
Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
From: Ait Melloul, Souss-Massa-Draa, Morocco
“I would describe myself as a fellow who thinks it’s not so easy to describe oneself” -Hamza
Couchsurfing means something different to everyone. For Hamza Benhmani, it was a way for him to get involved in his new home of Quebec City. Hamza, who now resides in Montreal, relocated to Canada from Morocco in 2012.
When Hamza moved, he was eager to find a way to get involved. Almost immediately, he began to host surfers at his new home.
“I’ve always loved getting to know strangers, it always feels good to establish a connection and a bond with a complete stranger, and find things in common. So when I moved from Morocco to Quebec, not knowing almost anyone here, it was sort of natural for me to start hosting”
After only a few weeks the current Quebec Ambassador was moving cross-country to British Columbia and was looking for someone to take over for him.
“I was happy to volunteer and do it” says Hamza.
This opportunity allowed him to get more involved and meet more people than he could have ever imagined. As an Ambassador, he began organizing the weekly meetups and welcoming new members to the online Quebec City group.
Today, Hamza loves his life in Montreal and is a very active host, accepting Couchsurfers whenever possible.
In May 2017, as Hamza’s interview is being conducted, something else is on his mind: the city which he calls ‘home’ has been ravished by severe rainfall and flooding. After several days of flooding, nearly 4,600 homes have been damaged by floodwaters and 3,900 people have been evacuated from their residences.
Hamza sprung into action and began contacting other hosts in Montreal. His plan is to help to connect those who have been displaced with hosts who are willing to take them in. Hamza is working hard to get the word out about his project.
An International Perspective
“As an immigrant, I tend to naturally to immerse myself in the local environment, culture and life, of course while remaining who I am, and also open up to other immigrant cultures, enjoy, celebrate and take advantage of diversity. I find that Couchsurfing is exactly about these same values, so my experiences as an immigrant did indeed influence my involvement and my experiences with Couchsurfers, local community, and also travelling and incoming Couchsurfers.”
If you are new to Couchsurfing, Hamza leaves you with this advice: take it easy and be yourself!
“A lot of new members I encounter worry a lot about what they should do and not do when they host or surf, I always say they shouldn’t worry a lot, and should just communicate well with the other person, and be themselves.”