Fondation Orient-Occident (Kaya Responsible Travel) - Morocco
Final Report: Foundation Orient-Occident Morocco
This summer has been one of the most challenging and eventful few months that any of us had experienced. When I thought about what my summer was going to be like, I had pictured myself in South Africa working for an organization that practiced law. I was so naive. Not only were we hit with a global pandemic, that restricted everyone to their homes, we also encountered the beginning of a nationwide social movement. Millions of people lost their jobs and had to completely adapt their original plans. We entered into a world where social interactions happened solely through the internet. We took on the internet as a way to maintain somewhat of a normality. Online internships come with a new standard of struggles and disciplines. However, it has been an experience that I am very grateful for, especially when so many do not have the opportunity to work online.
This summer I worked remotely as an intern in Morocco, Africa with Foundation Orient-Occident - a foundation that helps serve as a bridge between two shores of the Mediterranean. Historically, Morocco has been a transit country for Sub-Saharan African and MENA region migrants traveling across the Strait of Gibraltar to Europe. Many are attempting to escape political unrest, civil wars, and economic turndowns trying to get to Europe’s most popular cities. However, many end up staying in Morocco as they fear getting caught and being deported back to their home countries. The project supports migrants and refugees working with an organization that promotes their integration within the Moroccan society by providing them with education, professional training, and social assistance. Its mission is to focus on the difficulties of migrants, refugees, and disadvantaged youth. They promote employability by setting up socio-educational and professional training centers.
I specifically worked with young migrants learning English via Zoom. I met with the class three times a week and taught a variety of subjects for my beginning English speakers. The Foundation chooses students who have not had the opportunity to go to a normal school. Most of my students are also young girls who come from largely Islamic countries where they have not had the opportunity to have a formal education. Along with education, I also worked on social media projects that the Foundation needed at the time. I helped create advertisements and posters asking for donations.
I struggled at the beginning of my internship because it was like nothing that I have ever had to do before. The students I had taught only spoke French and Arabic so there was a large language barrier. However, we figured out a way to use Zoom to our advantage. Managing time while being at home was also one of my hardest challenges. Despite these challenges, I built a really strong connection with those with whom I had interacted! I was able to learn more about their stories and understand the complexities of being a migrant in their area. The most rewarding thing I had received was seeing how much each of my students improved over the eight weeks. At the beginning of my internship, they only knew how to say their name. By the end, we had full classes where we only spoke English. They could tell me their interest, future careers, favorite foods, etc. I had never taught English prior to this internship, and I was so nervous that I would mess it up. Foundation Orient-Occident had never done online classes, so it was a new experience for everyone. Because Notre Dame had switched to Zoom the previous semester, I was able to help them get adjusted to the new online format.
Migration is something that I am very passionate about and hope to be able to learn more through this program. During my time in college, I hoped to learn more about migration tendencies and continuities that you see due to unjust living situations. The very present social gap makes it harder for a lot of people to advance their lives. I hope that in some way, shape, or form, I will be able to speak for those who are in these situations. I believe that this program will serve as a good start for that process. The program enabled me to intellectually and practically serve as a bridge between the two different cultures, as its mission is “to come towards the difficulties of migrants, refugees, and the disadvantaged youth, and to promote employability by setting up socio-educational and professional training centers”. This internship has allowed me to step into the shoes of migrants in these areas. I had learned also about Islamic traditions and practices in my cultural classes.
Aside from new cultural situations, I also gained a multitude of skills through this internship. In order to succeed in my internship, it was necessary to gain confidence in my work. It can get intimidating talking to the leaders of the organization; however, with time, I gained the confidence to use their language and actively communicate my ideas and/or concerns. For online internships, communication is key. My ability to communicate with supervisors and peers has improved dramatically from this summer. Also, my ability to think creatively has improved dramatically. Sometimes there would not be explicit direction for projects and for lessons to teach. This required me to be able to use my own ideas to create something resembling what my supervisors had wanted.
While this was not the summer that I had expected, it still surpassed my expectations. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to have worked online when so many people could not. I have not only learned about Moroccan culture, but I learned more about myself than I had realized. This internship had helped me confirm my passion, acknowledge my weaknesses that I need to work on, and taught me my strengths.