Volunteering: A "solo" woman traveler
When I decided to volunteer in Morocco with Cross-Cultural Solutions, I wouldn't let anything stand in my way. Due to the usual scheduling craziness, none of my friends were able to come along, so I decided to enroll with CCS as a solo volunteer. But the beautiful thing about CCS is that even if your fellow volunteers aren't your old friends, you're never really going it alone. In fact, chances are, you're about to meet some brand new, soon to be "old friends."
When I shared my plans with friends and family, "Is it safe?" was the question on everyone's mind. In September of 2011, I traveled as a solo female to Rabat, Morocco, and then again to Guatemala City in 2012. So with two such adventures under my belt, I would say that my answer to the safety question is a resounding, "Yes, it's safe!"
To be honest, when everyone started asking questions about how safe I would be heading off to volunteer in Morocco, it got me a little nervous. I chose CCS because they were always available to answer my questions and over time, I established a real trust with the CCS staff. They reassured me that CCS would never run a program in an unsafe location, and furthermore, that I would be met at the airport by a smiling member of the in-country team.
When I arrived in Rabat, I was nervous. But I dressed conservatively—as advised by my Program Site Specialist—and was careful to pay attention to the cultural norms. Early on in my experience, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Khadija, a staff member at the Home-Base. Right away, our connection put me at ease. I stayed up late one night talking with her about her experience growing up in Africa and came away with a better understanding of what it is like to be a woman in Morocco. And I developed a deep respect for the local culture.
So, I was fine. In fact, I was better than fine; I was amazing! I even took a weekend trip across Morocco with three other women, and because we were informed and prepared, we felt safe the entire time. We traveled in a group and spent the night in the desert under the Saharan stars. It was an incredible experience.
Now that I've been there and done that "solo," I feel so lucky that I get to help other female travelers make their international volunteering dreams come true. Me and my fellow Program Advisors are always here manning the phones, live chat, and CCS inbox to answer any questions that you—or your parents—may have.