Many people have a Bucket List of things they want to accomplish before they die. I have a LIFE LIST of things I want to accomplish in life. Going to all seven continents is on my life list, which was one of the reasons I ventured to Morocco.
In 2011, my remaining continents were 3 A’s – Antarctica, Australia and Africa. Given my previous positive experiences with Cross-Cultural Solutions traveling to Brazil and Peru, I felt most comfortable traveling to an unfamiliar continent with an organization I know and trust. So I was off to Morocco on December 23, 2011 to spend my holiday volunteering and learning about a new country and culture. Let the adventure begin!
As you can imagine, being a tall blonde American woman in Morocco doesn’t exactly allow one to blend into the crowds. What a comforting site to be greeted at the airport by the Cross-Cultural Solutions driver. As always, my fellow volunteers were from various places around the world, and yet, we shared the same focus on giving and growing. Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) allows you that opportunity with a structured program combining ½ days of volunteering with cultural lessons, programs and excursions. This balance of service with learning and exploration was so enriching for me on my previous trips and Rabat was no exception.
My volunteer placement was in a Community Center teaching English to adults. Given Arabic and French are the primary languages used in Morocco, my years of studying French came into play nicely…along with a handy Lonely Planet French-English guide book!
The students were quite shy at first, however, given my rusty French they had an opportunity to help me with my accent. This evened the field, and the reciprocity helped break the ice. Yet another great example of where ‘giving’ is a two-way street, and you always learn and grow from the experience!
While it was not a traditional Christmas, to me it was one of the most memorable holidays ever. (Of course, I spent holiday time with my family in January to keep mom happy?)
In the afternoons, we had lessons and excursions. Morocco has such a rich culture and history with food, traditions, and history so different than any I’ve experienced. I learned how to speak a bit of Arabic, how to cook delicious tagine recipes and had the opportunity to enjoy traditional music, explore the souks and neighborhood cafes near our home base. The photos below really bring it to life.
The trip to Rabat fulfilled my LIFE LIST goal and left me interested, curious and eager to learn more about this intriguing continent. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller