Morocco: First week

Morocco: First week

This is a day-to-day diary I wrote while being in Morocco in October 2017. After spending a few days in London visiting, I made my way to the airport to begin a new experience…

Saturday, 14th October 2017– Day One

Today I am flying from London, where I have spent the past three days, to Rabat Salé where I will be volunteering for two weeks. I leave my hostel and travel to Stansted Airport, then embark on a 4-hour flight to finally arrive at 8:15 PM. The IVHQ team picks me up from the airport and drives me to the accomodation– Khadijah’s house. I meet the whole family; Khadijah and her husband, and their three children.

Sunday, 15th October 2017– Day Two

I take the day to get orientated– I walk around the Medina– the main marketplace and look for long elephant pants to keep cool in the blazing hot sun– wearing shorts in Morocco would not be respectful of the culture. The Moroccan culture is quite conservative, thus as a volunteer in a foreign country, it is important that I conform to the value system.

Later in the evening, my roommate arrives– Sarah from Québec. Who would have thought that I needed to travel to Morocco to speak to a fellow Québecoise for the first time in six years?

Monday, 16th October 2017– Day Three

Today is orientation day. The IVHQ team tells us all about Morocco and the customs here– what to wear, how to remain safe, basic Arabic sentences and important tips and tricks to feel at home. We then visit our placements and I get to meet the women I will be teaching every day. The teaching is done in a primary school, and the women come to a free classroom to learn English and French while their children are in school. They are all enthusiastic and welcoming– the next two weeks will be great!

Tuesday, 17th October 2017– Day Four

Today is the first teaching day. I go to class and introduce myself, and write down the women’s names.

They begin to tell me what they would like to learn and practice– English vocabulary and French pronunciation and vocabulary (it’s a myth that most Moroccan people speak French, as Samad, the first IVHQ person who greeted me, explained). Finally, I find out that Tuesdays are always taught by another teacher, hence I teach for approximately a half hour and observe the rest of the session.

Wednesday, 18th October 2017– Day Five

I travel to the school and realise that some of the women in my class cannot write or read French or English. However, another part of the class speaks French fluently and the other half only wants to learn English. This makes it quite hard! I help a few with basic English vocabulary; greetings, and how to introduce one’s self. Half of the class wants to concentrate on English, and the other on French. I will work on a teaching plan for the next session tonight, and try to incorporate a bit of everything to ensure that all are content and feel like they learned something by the time I leave.

Thursday, 19th October 2017– Day Six

After having found a way of teaching all the women at different levels during the hour and a half that I have each day, I start teaching the real lessons. I separate them into groups– the fluent French speakers must have a discussion– only in French! No Arabic allowed!– and help each other mutually with their pronunciation. I bring sheets with the Roman alphabet and numbers for the few that wish to learn them. For the others, I work on “textile vocabulary”; they learn how to describe the products they make to potential customers.

I realised today that spending only two weeks here is too short– to really see progress, one would have to stay a few months to really create a syllabus and teach extensively. Nevertheless, I will put all my efforts in to give as much as I can while I am here!

Friday, 20th October 2017– Day Seven

Today is a slower day at the school, many women did not come (Sacred Friday), so we simply continue with the vocabulary. Today: colours. The class is fun, and the women seem to enjoy it!

After volunteering, I go home to find a huge couscous plate! Fridays are sacred in Morocco and we eat couscous on this day.

Khadijah thought it would be nice to travel to Agadir with us to visit her son, Karim, and show us around– how amazing of her! After a long day of work and studying at the Hotel Des Oudaias, Sarah, Khadijah and I are on our way to the bus station for an overnight bus ride to Agadir. The idea scares me a bit, but travelling with a local is reassuring.

We arrive at the bus station and are faced by a dozen men trying to sell us last minute tickets to Agadir, it’s overwhelming and completely different from back home! I realise that sometimes you need to let go and go with the flow, so I just follow Khadijah and soon enough, we are sitting on the bus, embarking on a 7-hour long journey.

Saturday, 21st October 2017– Day Eight

We arrive early in the morning to Agadir and go right away to Khadijah’s sister’s house where we take a short nap. We go to breakfast at her mother’s house– having the real Moroccan experience. Tea is flowing, the breakfast is great. We then go to take a long-distance taxi to Taghazout where we meet Karim and his friends. We have a Tajine, do a camel ride and relax on the beach and are on our way back to Agadir. We spend the night at Khadijah’s sister’s house and get ready for the next day.

Sunday, 22nd October 2017– Day Nine

We spend the day walking and visiting Agadir with Khadijah; we go to the main, huge market and then have a quick bite. We finish the day at Khadijah’s other sister’s house where they give us amazing treats and we eat dinner. I have great conversations with her sister’s husband regarding having children and a woman’s destiny of having them, and I find myself greatly enjoying this “mini-debate”. Needless to say, it was a very interesting one to hold! At around 10 PM, we are on our way back to the bus station and leave Agadir to travel back to Rabat.

Read about week two here.