Volunteering in Morocco - Part 1

A voice in the distance calls me from the depths of my dreams. Unsure of where I am, my nose registers the cold air. I feel the weight of my wool blanket pressing down on me and yet I still shiver. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness and for me to process where I am and why this warbling voice beckons me to rise from my slumber and pray.

People often ask me what it's like to travel to a foreign country on my own. My best answer? It's jarring. From routine to disorientation. Confidence to apprehension. Everything you know is pulled back to reveal a brand new, exciting world. A world where mothers grocery shop in alleys crowded with live chickens underfoot and the smell of frying beef hanging heavy in the air. A world where packages covered with Arabic writing would say simple things like "bread" or "tea" if only you could read the labels. Where children play soccer in cement courtyards, and families drink coffee and tea instead of wine.

Traveling to a foreign country means you must store your preconceptions in your luggage and prepare yourself for anything. You are not in control. You are not comfortable. But, you are most assuredly alive.

My arrival at Cross-Cultural Solutions Rabat felt both jarring and comforting. As a CCS veteran of both the India and Cape Town programs, I know the relief of seeing the CCS sign and a smiling face after clearing airport customs and although I'd never met Mohamed (the Morocco Country Director), I immediately felt relief wash over me as he helped me with my luggage and walked with me to the CCS van parked out front.

As I wrote in my blog #FCAF Africa - Morocco Beneath the Veil, if took a few days for me to settle in, but of course, I came to appreciate and admire the reserved nature of the women, the rambunctiousness of the children at my volunteer assignment (kids are the same everywhere in the world!), and when the mosque loudspeakers echoed in harmony five times daily.

Want to hear the rest of my story from my #ccsRabat experience? Keep an eye out for part 2, coming soon!


Thank you for sharing this article- it’s important to understand the work that you’re doing whenever you volunteer abroad, and how that fits into the community as a whole. At Cross-Cultural Solutions, the work that our volunteers do is community-led and driven. Our in-country staff is made up entirely of local nationals, who understand what is appropriate for their own communities. The projects our volunteers work in have been requested by the local community, and volunteers are matched individually based on their skills as well as the community needs, ensuring that their time is helpful to the community as well as educational. And - we regularly track the impacts of our volunteer work to ensure our contributions to the community are positive. Please reach out to us with any questions or thoughts – we know that the philosophy behind and the structure of your international volunteer work can make a world of difference. Check out this blog post for more information on the ways our volunteers impact the partner organizations. http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/blog/what-our-partner-organizations-have-say-about-ccs-volunteers
Posted at 2:54pm on February 28th, 2014
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