After a long overnight journey through a few different airports, I arrived in Agadir, Morocco. I had accomplished one goal. I had now visited all seven continents. Actually, thanks to a one day layover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates which is part of Asia during my travels from Australia to Greece, I was even able to have been on all seven continents within the year of 2017. But that was not the main reason for coming to Morocco. I was there to spend three weeks working with an organization based in the small town of Taroudant. The organization was the Youth Association for Culture and Development, and had a few different programs, mostly for youth but also for some adults. I would be spending my evenings teaching English at their center.
I was lucky to have found this program. I had been planning on participating in two different programs in Morocco, but unfortunately, both of them were cancelled. So during my time in Australia, I was making adjustments and searching for something else in Morocco, and came across YACD on www.workaway.info. It was an opportunity to help teach English, while working with a youth program.
So, after an extremely long wait in line to go through Moroccan immigration at the airport of Agadir, I met with Khalid, who I had been communicating with for a few weeks. Then, after about a 45 minute drive, I arrived in the small city of Taroudant, at the apartment home of Muhammad, the director of YACD. I would be staying with him and his small family, along with two other volunteers for the next few weeks.
I was welcomed with baked treats and Moroccan tea. The tea was actually one of the reasons I wanted to go to Morocco. And it lived up to the expectations. After this wonderful snack, we went to the YACD office where the other volunteers were finishing up their classes. I met Phillipe from Canada, who was teaching French, and Jose, from Mexico, who I would be working with to teach English.
The next day was spent walking around the city of Taroudant and getting to know the area a little better. Taroudant is known as “Little Marrakech” because it is a walled city with a bustling market, but much smaller, and less touristic, than Marrakech.
Each weeknight, we went to the office to teach language. We had three different classes, each meeting twice a week (one night each week, we taught two classes). The classes ranged from young children of about 8 years old, with very limited English ability, to adults with rather good English conversation skills. Each night was a different challenge. Sometimes it was simply trying to find a new activity to keep the students engaged. Other times, it would be that there were only 2 or 3 students, so the plans wouldn’t work quite well. Regardless of the typical teaching struggles, the students were all extremely friendly and it was great getting to know them. In fact, my last night, some of the women in the adult class brought more baked goods as a “going-away” party. The same as much of the other food I ate in Morocco, their treats were delicious.
On weekends, I did some personal traveling around western Morocco. These trips involved some unique experiences, such as spending New Year’s Eve in a bedouin camp on the edge of the Sahara Desert, getting attacked by a dog on a beach, or somehow ending up at a private table in some underground club in Agadir.
One of the more rewarding experiences though was learning about a great international organization. Khalid invited us to his family orange grove on a Saturday, when he was receiving some other guests from Poland. Khalid had visited them in Poland through the YACD’s work with Brave Kids. This is an organization that invited youth groups from around the world to Poland each summer. The youth groups each come to present some type of cultural performance. It is an amazing opportunity for these young people to participate in a unique cultural exchange as they get to know other youths from different nations.
The following day was a reunion of the Moroccan Brave Kids participants at the YACD office. The office was packed full of people and food. Then, the participants gave an abbreviated performance of their cultural music. The evening ended with most of the crowd dancing along to the young musicians.
My three weeks in Morocco served as yet another window into a completely different culture than what I was used to. But I witnessed the universal desire to share one’s culture and learn about another’s. That was one of the reasons I was so impressed with organizations like YACD and Brave Kids.
At the end of my time in the desert, it was time to head back towards the east.
www.workaway.info: The website where I found this placement.
Youth Association for Culture and Development: The organization I worked
with in Taroudant. They offer language classes and a variety of other programs for the community.
Brave Kids: The international organization that YACD is involved with. Youth groups from around the world travel to Poland to present cultural performances and interact with one another.