A service trip to Morocco
May 19, 2014 2:49 pm
The Splendid surprises along the way!
This past April, along with Tricia and Angie (two FINNEGANS staffers), I went on the 2014 Prouty Stretch Expedition to Morocco. The ‘Stretch Expeditions’ are designed to “stretch” oneself, as the famous Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. quote goes “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” The folks at the Prouty Project live by this as does their partner Ubelong, an international volunteer organization that organized the Morocco trip.
A group of 20 of us from Minnesota went to Morocco to serve and learn. I was in the ‘women empowerment’ group, where a small group of us consulted with a female social entrepreneur named Asmaa, whose company provides workshops for women to teach them creative techniques for creating art out of ecologically friendly materials. Her organization, Au Grain de Sesamé, also supports the women by promoting and selling their artwork. Asmaa has great vision and passion and she has every intention of transforming women’s lives via a sustainable business model.
Our women’s empowerment team was a perfect mix of corporate, entrepreneurs and socil entrepreneurs. I was amazed at how easily we shifted between each individual’s strengths in the group in order to most effectively assist Asmaa with what she needed. Within one week’s time we were able to assist Asmaa with her mission, vision and values for the company and we created a road map and timeline to help guide her toward reaching her goals. I was especially proud of my team (Tricia and Angie) for their participation and contributions – Tricia was able to share information about our internship programs and Angie jumped in and assisted with Assma’s Facebook and social media strategies. I was able to mostly share empathy and our success stories for building effective strategic partnerships…but honestly, I mostly just learned.
Another highlight of my trip was reconnecting with Mary Stucky, founder of Round Earth Media . This non profit organization mentors and trains the next generation of global journalists while producing powerful multi media stories on important under-reported issues. I had met Mary a few weeks before our trip at a dinner hosted by former Ambassador to Morocco Sam Kaplan and his wife, Sylvia. At this dinner Mary had so kindly offered to organize a couple of dinners with ‘Interesting people’ for the small group of us that arrived a few days early in Morocco. The “interesting dinners” were amazing! We were able to learn first had from leaders of local NGO’s working out in the field in Morocco and region on pressing women’s issues. I am very grateful to Mary for this fantastic opportunity!!
I suspect this scenario often plays out on ‘service trips’ – folks go somewhere to help and provide service and they end up being the ones that are expanded and served by all of the learning that takes place. This was most certainly my experience from spending a week with these highly intelligent women and fellow Prouty Stretchers, by listening to the challenges of a female social entrepreneur in Morocco whose challenges emulated my own and from my first ever experience of a homestay with a lovely Moroccan family – I am forever expanded and thankful for this experience.
Please enjoy these photos that tell the rest of the story. A huge thank you to Jeff Prouty and all of the folks at the Prouty Project, Cedric and Adrianna from Ubelong and all of my fellow 2014 stretchers for such an expansive experience!