The labyrinthine of a local Medina, the call to prayer echoing otherworldly in the distance, the smell of a local dish cooking in a clay tagine, the offer of mint tea at virtually any time of day, are just a few of the cultural staples of Morocco. In traveling to this North African country, you’ll have the opportunity to write your own narrative about the people in this predominantly Muslim society. Our home-base is located in Azrou, a small town, located in the towering Atlas Mountains where students at the Fatima Al Fihriya elementary school face many challenges. Coming from families that support themselves through farming small plots of land or through artisan or woodworking in the nearby cedar forests, these students often don’t have the clothing necessary during harsh winter months in the mountains at school, and warm themselves at a small fire in the back of the classroom. As a volunteer at this Moroccan school, you’ll establish peer-to-peer relationships with the students while leaving a lasting impact through much needed small construction projects in local schools. On weekend journey to Fez or take an overnight camel trek in the Sahara to revel in something so unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.
The home-base in Azrou is situated in a traditional home in the tranquil outskirts town. In your three-story Home-Base, you’ll engage in cultural activities in the large living area, learn to make your favorite Moroccan dishes in a beautiful kitchen, and find relaxation in bedrooms on the top two floors. When it’s time to unwind after a day of volunteer service, check out the beautiful views of the Atlas Mountains from our rooftop deck, or warm up during cooler months in the in-house hamam.
During your free time, you’ll find shops and cafes within walking distance, as well as plenty of areas to run on the side streets of your new community. And then there’s the food in Morocco. From flavorful cous-cous to hearty meats prepared in a tagine to Moroccan tea, volunteers consistently rave about the tastes and smells of Moroccan cuisine.
Cross-Cultural Solutions’ local staff designs and runs each program; the staff will make you feel at home acting like a second family during your stay and helping you better understand the culture. They help facilitate your placement and activities and are always available to handle any questions that may arise.
Morocco Country President, Mohamed Mhmmoudi, grew up in a rural village of Morocco where many children didn’t have the opportunity to attend school. “I see myself in many of the children volunteers work with. Very close to home, my mother is also illiterate; and I have seen the impacts of illiteracy on early mortality rates, high fecundity, malnutrition, and high infant mortality. Literacy and education is a key social issue in Morocco to improve the lives and futures of women and children. I was fortunate to earn a degree in Economics & Management and continued my work toward improving my community through the Peace Corps as the Safety & Security Manager, coming full circle from a turning point in my life after meeting a Peace Corps volunteer as a teenager. I am proud to serve as a humanitarian and educator to promote peace and understanding across a broad range of cultures. As an international leader, my work with volunteers and with my community inspires me to do my part to create a world where every child has the opportunity to pursue an education, and to receive the compassion and love they deserve.”
Each weekday afternoon our professional staff guide the group on Cultural & Learning Activities in the local area. From Arabic lessons — learning basic phrases to converse with new local friends, as well as Arabic script calligraphy — to henna and artisan craft workshops, we’ll help you immerse yourself in Moroccan culture. Morocco is famous for its cuisine, and you’ll soon see why. Don’t stop at just eating delicious Moroccan food though; make it yourself through our CCS cooking classes. Learn how to use a traditional clay tagine, and even buy one in the market to replicate your new recipes back home. Lace up your boots for a hike through a nearby cedar forest, famous for its stunning panoramic views, soothing cedar scents, traditional sheep herders, and even occasional glimpses of monkeys!
On the weekends your group may choose to explore other areas of the country through our guided overnight packages. Spend one or two nights exploring the city of Fez and embark on an overnight camel trek into the Sahara Desert.
Journey back through the mountains to the stunning medieval city of Fez, an ancient center of sacred learning and imperial power. Stop at the Unesco World site Roman ruins at Volubilis before setting into your hotel in Fez. The following day take a guided tour around the medina and tanneries including the oldest university in the world, University of al-Qarawiyyin. As you wander the serpentine streets, the colors and the smells of the spice markets and tanneries will flood your senses.
On Friday afternoon the group will travel a couple hours to the desert outpost town of Merzouga and stay in the gorgeous Hotel Riad Mamouche. The following day saddle up on your camel as you ride into the vast and picturesque Saraha desert. Arrive at a Berber camp fully equipped with comfortable tents, furniture, and rugs. Witness an extraordinary sunset before enjoying Berber drums, dancing, and a delicious multi-course meal with the backdrop of intensely sparkling stars.