I came to Morocco to work with an NGO that supports women’s rights, but unfortunately, my expectations differed greatly from reality. While I am aware that working with an NGO often entails long hours at an office working on behind-the-scenes issues, I wasn’t prepared for the boredom and lack of structure that would come from this experience. I think the majority of the problem is traceable back to the language barrier. Unfortunately, because no one at the NGO spoke English, I was never able to connect to Wi-Fi, which meant that I spent every day sitting in a café by myself, rather than in the office surrounded by others (even if I couldn’t exactly communicate with them). This also meant that collaboration on projects would have been nearly impossible without the presence of someone available to translate. The other problem was the menial tasks with which I was bestowed. After proudly turning in my first 50-page report, I was excited to receive another project, hopefully one that would allow me to make more of a direct impact on the community. To my dismay, my boss asked me to write another 50-page report on a different subject. This was a huge source of frustration because I traveled all the way to Morocco to work with community members and improve local issues, but the work I was doing could easily have been completed from my living room back in Michigan. I thought that after finishing my research paper I would be allowed to engage in more hands-on projects, as the job description had entailed, but instead, I felt like a source of free labor that the company was taking advantage of.
After talking with the program through which I obtained the internship, they allowed me to transfer projects. Unfortunately, the only project that was currently available was very different than working with an NGO, but I gratefully accepted. In the end, my goal while being in Morocco is to better the community, which sometimes requires significantly altering your plans. For the past few days, I have been teaching English to students of all ages. It’s been an awesome experience because all the kids have been incredibly eager to learn and genuinely enjoy coming to school, but it has once again been difficult to communicate since I do not speak any Arabic. I have also been in contact with the CEO of a different local NGO for women’s rights and I have an interview with her next week, so hopefully, I will be able to work with this company throughout my last couple of weeks here (possibly in addition to teaching).
While my plans in Morocco have greatly changed over the past few days, it has shown me the importance of flexibility and sacrifice in order to overcome obstacles. I look forward to seeing what will happen with my work for the last few weeks I will spend in Morocco.