Allow me to excite you with the greatest chapter in my life and I hope it convinces you to challenge and experience this opportunity yourself. I distinctly remember stepping foot into the Mohammed V Airport in Casablanca, Morocco last winter with complete disbelief that I was in another country alone, for the first time ever. I recall crying while walking to immigration after telling my parents I’d be back in a month to annoy them. The fear and sadness I felt were incredibly overwhelming as it finally hit me that I left the comfort of my home for a 6-week volunteering experience in Morocco with the youth organisation AIESEC. But that month ended up being the most life-changing experience I’ve ever had.
When I landed, I was well prepared with how to manage on my first day but I was completely unprepared for the days to follow. Fortunately, the next day, as I was awaiting the other volunteers to arrive, I realised that as the moment everything changed. Within an hour, we bonded instantly and later overcame obstacles together for the rest of the month, like walking 5 kilometres everyday to get to a café with free Wi-Fi to living in a freezing, desolate flat with the closest supermarket being 2 kilometres away, we were inseparable. We did have a tremendous amount of support from amazing Fez’s AIESEC members, who quickly became our lifelines in emergencies. We made that lodging our home and every weekend, we explored some of Morocco’s most beautiful cities: Marrakesh, Tangier, Chefchaouen, to name a few.
Our project primarily involved identifying the major issue that Moroccans in Fez faced finding solutions to improve their lives through unique changes. For them, 100 AED, an amount that many casually spend, was exorbitant. I started to really empathise with their situation, which I don’t usually feel for locals in my home country, India due to my growing insensitivity to their struggles. However, I became grateful for what I had in my life and it motivated to help these people after learning their circumstances. At the end, my team and I had confidently explained to the AIESEC members in Fez about the issues their people were facing and how to solve them, which those members admired us for.
One of my trip’s highlights was my last day in Morocco in Casablanca. All alone, I had only 50 Moroccan Dirhams for food and I saved the remaining money for my travel expenses to the airport. That was when a generous young girl and her family invited me over for a hearty meal of Moroccan couscous. The few hours I spent with them was like I was right at home. The warmth and love that resonated from her family were beautiful and I felt it regardless of the fact that my friend was our translator. We bonded over their love for Bollywood films, our trip to the Hassan II Mosque and the car tour around the city. In all, it was a great conclusion to the trip and I got super emotional after I said goodbye.
In the beginning, I guess I was fearful of the fact that I’ll be living alone and dreaded about the possibilities that the volunteers would not like me or the AIESEC members will think I’m annoying, and other such insignificant worries. In the end, however, I made a family of lifelong friends. This group comprised of various nationalities, making it a true one-of-a-kind multicultural experience from which I understood and appreciated every culture I was introduced to. I know Morocco will always welcome me with open arms and I would definitely consider it my second home because of the memories and the people I met along the way.
A now greatly appreciative human being