By Marie-Amelie Prieur '16
On February 13, 2015, a group of 18 TASIS students departed for Morocco. This was the start of a trip, experience, and mission that would change us forever. This trip was a small insight into the lives of people who are clearly not so different from us, and who aspire to success in the same way as we do. Working with teenagers who were the same age range as us made it easy to connect with them and to find similarities between our lives or interests and theirs.
Three of our seven days there were spent working with students from Foundation Sanady schools in the Agadir area. The aim of our trip was to teach them technological skills that could provide an advantage in their education and beyond. Throughout our three days at the Sanady schools, we definitely struggled on the technology side, as the internet was not great. However, I truly feel that this made our experience of even greater impact, as all TASIS and Sanady students had to work together in order to solve the problems we encountered, like finding new activities to do that did not involve the use of the internet but achieved similar goals.
There were so many emotions that hit me from the very start of our trip. The beauty of the connections being made, as well as the realization that there is a possibility for people to get together for the greater good of others, with the sole intent of bringing aid to others. One of the most important things I got from this experience, that I thought about regularly throughout the whole time and that I still believe in, is that awareness must be raised throughout the entire world that there are people who need our help, help that we can provide. The families of the students we met were not necessarily missing anything, but us coming to visit them and share our stories was still a precious present to them, and reminds them that unity is present in our world.
At every school or organization we visited, we were welcomed with open arms, and greeted with some sort of snack or meal which had been prepared specially for us. This was the first impression we got, and it was a very positive one. At the first school, we were greeted with dates and milk, which, in Morocco, represents the honor that it was to have us there. The icebreaker activities quickly formed bonds between the TASIS and Sanady students, as the common ground is so vast. This was definitely a surprise considering the difference in backgrounds of both groups. At one point, I realized that maybe TASIS students had more to learn from these teenagers than the other way around.
One of the difficult parts of the trip was definitely the language barrier. We had two Arabic speakers, and two French speakers. Certain Sanady students spoke English, but it was still at some times difficult to explain complex activities. However, this is the beauty of it all. Seeing students from TASIS and Sanady finding other means of communication made our connections even more unique.
For me, the principal conclusion of this trip is that the immediate connections that were formed and the open acceptance between us all must make us realize that actions like these must come in greater numbers. Awareness must be raised throughout the world. Not because these people necessarily need our help, but because this is the way to a greater, more peaceful world.
Even though the trip was only 10 days, I was able to learn many things, rediscover myself, and make truly powerful connections with amazing people. The next step is to use the power we have here at TASIS to collect funds in order to bring even more to the Sanady schools. Personally, every time I have gone on a service trip, I have rediscovered who I am as a person, as well as who I should be. All of these emotions are genuine and each action is fundamentally truthful, resulting in powerful exchanges.
TASIS Global Service Program
The Global Service Program was envisioned by Jan Opsahl ’68, who became the first international student at TASIS when he came from Norway in 1965. The pioneering program was launched in 2013 with major support from a most generous donation from Mr. Opsahl and his family to set up the Global Service Trust. This Trust, along with support from the TASIS Foundation, make this incredible, life-changing experience for our students possible.
The Global Service Program transforms lives by providing every High School student a unique opportunity to connect across borders through comprehensive experiences that build empathy and encourage personal responsibility. Participation in the program—which is designed to awaken students to humanitarian needs, inspire them to build enduring, mutually beneficial relationships, and lead them toward a life of active citizenship and committed service—is a graduation requirement.