Spending six weeks in the city of Casablanca, Morocco was not only an eye-opening experience, but also an insane rollercoaster ride that I did not want to end. Morocco was definitely an unconventional choice for me to do my Global Volunteer project, but throughout it all I felt that the experience allowed for my personal growth and development. Living in a completely new environment, where I had no knowledge of the main languages spoken in the country, I felt incredibly out of my comfort zone. It taught me to pick up useful phrases in the local language just to make sure I would be able to get myself out of any sticky situations. The times I spent in Morocco taught me to be alert, independent and to not take the safety I have in Singapore for granted. I never thought that I would ever be placed in a situation whereby I would have to fear for my safety while walking down the streets of my own neighbourhood. Despite this, my time in Morocco has made me more conscious of my personal safety and has made me stronger as a person.
Changing the World through Education
During these six weeks in Morocco, I had volunteered in the “Drive Morocco to Quality Education” project. Teaching English to beautiful, young and inspired children from age of 5 and even to adults in their mid-40s, was the first time I felt so vital to someone else’s learning experience. I had never been a teacher and there I was, providing these hopeful souls with the works of the English language and them having their full trust in me to provide them with whatever they needed to succeed in their academic journey. It was a humbling experience, and the children and teenagers never failed to show me loads of appreciation. When their eyes gleamed and lit up upon seeing my colleagues and I enter the class each morning, I swear it made me feel so cherished. In addition, the passion they had to learn English as a third language in turn also inspired to pick up other languages. Nevertheless, the impact they left on me was far larger than the one I left on them.
Furthermore, I was blessed to have been able to meet phenomenal individuals, be it the other Exchange Participants (EPs) or the locals from the Moroccan AIESEC team. We cultivated strong bonds and made friendships that are sure to last. The Moroccan AIESECers were admirable individuals who showed us around the city and tried their best to help us at any given opportunity.
During our time in Casablanca, were also living with other EPs, and although times were not always swell due to the arguments we had, we eventually succeeded to grow closer as if we were all one big family.Meeting people from all over the world such as Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, China, Senegal, Serbia, Spain, U.S.A., Algeria, Egypt, Romania and many more was also mind-blowing. I learnt about their cultures, tried their traditional foods and picked up a few phrases in several different languages. This helped us foster closer ties and develop mutual understanding.
Integral to every AIESEC Global Volunteer trip is the traveling we get to do during our free time! Every weekend was another journey filled with exploring the different cities in Morocco, which was definitely a highlight of my trip. Exploring the Sahara Desert of Merzouga, was for me, a defining moment during my time in Morocco even though the journey there was an arduous one. Nothing can beat the satisfaction of lying under the stars on the desert, or riding a camel with a bunch of friends. Other cities such as Tangier, Chefchaouen, Marrakech and Rabat are also incredible places to visit and allowed me to experience the rich cultural and architectural diversity of Morocco. On the flipside, the food in Morocco almost never seems to differ much, be it in Casablanca or other cities.
Throughout this entire experience, I managed to learn a lot about myself, and the new culture that I immersed myself in. Naturally, Moroccan culture varies considerably from Singaporean culture. Unfortunately, I faced several challenges that soured my trip. They include, getting robbed in broad daylight, language barriers, catcalling on the streets, getting scammed or cheated by vendors. However, I took it as all part of the experience of living somewhere halfway across the world from me, where life may not be as easy or comfortable as it is back home. It also made me appreciate the life we have in Singapore. As I’ve said, definitely not everything went smoothly in Casablanca, but as EPs, we should come in with the attitude to make the best out of our experience no matter what is thrown our way. The way you choose to look at the obstacles and deal with them will determine whether or not the experience is worth it. No one else can make your Global Volunteer trip a great one, except you.
Haneesa embarked on her Global Volunteer trip this summer to Morocco on the Drive Morocco to Quality Education Project. To apply for more opportunities visit https://www.aiesecinnus.org/global-volunteer.