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Shaalini Ganesalingam

Organization: WorldTeach, One Brattle Square, Suite 550 Cambridge, MA 02138
Dates: 06/12/2016 to 08/08/2016
Web link:

In Shaalini's own words

How I contributed: The goal of the organization is for volunteers to teach English and life skills to students while also learning and engaging with the culture and people of Morocco. Over the summer, I was initially trained in Sidi Moumen Center for a week, learning Darija, teaching skills, and learning lessons on the culture and political history of Morocco. I was then placed with a host family in Al Jadida, where I taught three English classes, two of which were for little children between the range of 3 and 6 and one intermediate English class for students vary between 7 and 14 years of age. Over the weeks that I was there, I celebrated Ramadan with my host family, learned how to haggle with shopkeepers, and drank lots and lots of Moroccan mint tea!

What I felt most challenged by: I was most challenged by the lack of resources in Al Jadida. Other than my co -volunteers, I had no teachers to speak to and help me develop lesson plans catered to my students. It was difficult because I was not trained in teaching with the knowledge of what age group I would be teaching in Al Jadida. Although I had experience teaching back home, I had the luxury of knowing what level my students were all in and I had access to books that would guide me through my lessons. I had students that varied in level of understanding English. It took me several tries before I could create a lesson that could interest all the students and keep them engaged for the two hours that I had them. As a visitor to Morocco I felt at home with my host family, but as a teacher, I felt lonely and ill equipped

What I enjoyed most: I most enjoyed spending time with my family and friends in Morocco. After school, my host sister and I walked home pelting palm tree seeds at each other. At home, my three host sisters and I played tennis, went to the beach to ride horses or camels, visited the local shop to by candy, learned how to cook (the twelve-year old was more talented than I in the kitchen) and so much more! I loved combing our horse's mane, playing with the little kitten at the farm, and eating iftar dinner with my family after sunset. I loved drinking Moroccan mint tea and cracking jokes with my host dad and sisters. My family was so loving and I miss them very dearly. I also enjoyed traveling, peering over a slab of rock protruding out over Merzoud Falls, spending a night at the desert, & walking down Essouira.

Would I recommend this experience? I would recommend this program to other students however I would like to give a word of caution. Morocco is beautiful. But the program does not equip you as much as you would like once you are there. You can get by with the Darija you will learn there but teaching is a very big responsibility and it is not to be taken lightly. It will be harder to plan lessons for studnets at Al Jadida than it would be for one to plan a lesson for students here; the range of ages and levels of English play such an important role in that front. I wish I could have been better prepared to teach in that regard. I would also recommend that students who are looking for teaching skill development to request to teach at Casablanca, where there are more people to help you develop the skill you would like.

Jessica Breslau

Organization: SIT: IHP Climate Change Comparative
Dates: 6-Sep-13 - 18-Dec-13

In Jessica's own words

How I contributed: The program was a comparative study in food, water and energy across the world. Being that we were only in each country for such a limited amount of time, we could not cover each topic extensively, however I felt that my greatest competition to this program was simply listening to the locals whom we met with and listening to their daily experiences. We met with farmers, fishermen, engineers working in renewable energy and the problems that they faced were in many ways very similar to the problems that people of the same profession in the U.S.A are facing. Listening to their stories put into perspective the greater issues at hand, and allowed me to gain perspective of how things need to change on a global scale, rather than viewing each country or profession as a different entity.

What I felt most challenged by: The schedule of the program was very rigorous and your independence is testing daily. At school you have the ability to gain access to almost anything that you want and need at nearly any time. On this program, many of the social norms were set up by the host family, with little room for adjustment, and there were many times when the internet was unavailable in the midst of a research project. It is not to say that these challenges were impossible, however it becomes apparent how much we have come to expect, and how such expectations are not the norm in every place.

What I enjoyed most: Experiencing the different cultures, cuisines and politics were my favorite aspects of this program. Although the program is focused on a comparative view of climate change, there is so much more that is necessary to digest beforehand. Learning about the politics of each country made the process of environmental policy evaluation much more interesting.

Would I recommend this experience: I would recommend it. I think that it is rare to experience so many different cultures, climates, economies and policies in such a brief amount of time, and although it is quite hectic, the comparative aspect of the program put many things that I learned at Cornell into perspective on a greater scale.

Sara Cullen

Organization: SIT: Migration and Transnational Identity Program
Dates: 31-Jan-11 - 15-May-11

In Sara's own words

How I contributed: I contributed to the household where I was living and the program where I was studying by becoming a member of the community including carrying out all my responsibilities in terms of academic and personal life while in Morocco.

What I felt most challenged by: The language barrier in the household and the cultural norms (most public domains were dominated by men) were a persistent challenge while in Morocco. It was something that was never quite alleviated, but I dealt with it by continued efforts to understand the culture and language.

What I enjoyed most: I enjoyed the home-stay the most because it is the best way to understand the culture, language, and people.

Would I recommend this experience: My experience was no doubt challenging throughout the three and a half months but it was very rewarding and led to a new-found perspective on the world and multicultural interaction that is important for any person's personal and professional development.