Many people interested in the Human Rights & NGO Support career field seek valuable learning opportunities, where you can develop professional skills, while experiencing unique cultural immersion. Langara College student, Solé Castañeda, expressed, “For a very long time, I had been searching for the right work abroad experience and finally came across this program.” Read on to learn what made Solé’s Human Rights & NGO Support internship Morocco the right choice for her!
Hi Solé! Why did you choose to do this particular internship program?
For a very long time, I had been searching for the right work abroad experience and finally came across this program. The Human Rights & NGO Support internship program appealed to me because of my inclination toward working in the field of international relations. I’ve had some work experience in several industries that did not fulfill my desire to help people directly. With this internship, I intended to get involved with youth and women’s rights advocacy while simultaneously exploring an NGO’s operative dynamics. I knew Morocco would be the perfect destination considering its unique cultural richness and its proximity to countries in Europe and the MENA region.
Intern HQ Abroad fulfilled all of my expectations. From the very beginning, everything was spectacular. The airport pickup was smooth, the daily breakfasts and dinners were delicious (and very traditional), and the Intern Abroad HQ Program Manager was extremely attentive to all of the intern’s requests. I felt completely safe, supported, and comfortable. There were local program supervisors/assistants frequently in communication with the interns and physically present at the riad accommodation to impart important information to us regarding work placements, our whereabouts, etc.
Can you tell us more about the internship tasks you were involved in?
The quality of the internship work was good; we were placed with an excellent national organization and given enough time to deliver projects. The NGO team was kind and actively collaborated with us.
Some of the work we were assigned involved participation in collaborative and individual tasks like document translation from French to English, creation of workshop outlines and presentations, concept note development for various projects, contextualization of standardized educational content, and attendance of workshops and conferences with network partners.
The best parts of the internship experience were developing a passion for working in the field of human rights advocacy, receiving the tools to narrow my potential career paths in the industry, and forging a network of young people and professional contacts who share that same passion. The internship placement provided me with insights into UN projects and partnerships that have been created between international entities to support countries in the MENA region in meeting various SDGs.
Do you have weekend activity recommendations for others?
I definitely have recommendations for weekend activities. Just outside the medina, interns can explore Rabat, eat at some fantastic restaurants and even go to the cinema. The Kasbah of the Udayas, located across the street from the medina, is one of the best spots to explore and take photos. Also, take a quick boat ride across the water to a gorgeous town in front of Rabat called Salé.
Morocco has an excellent transportation system and commuting in Rabat was easier than I expected: the bus fare is only 5 dirhams, the tram is 6 dirhams, public transit is equipped with air conditioning and free Wifi, there are taxis everywhere, and local drivers are accessible. You can take the air-conditioned buses or Tram to any part of town for local sightseeing - there are multiple historical attractions in Rabat.
Aside from the capital (which, by the way, is the most relaxed city in Morocco) there are multiple destinations that can be easily accessed via train. Interns have the chance to plan little weekend trips - book a train to beautiful nearby cities like Fez, Essaouira, Marrakech, Tangier, Chefchaouen, Casablanca, etc. There is so much to do, many adventurous excursions are also available, like kayaking, ATV riding, and surfing.
Overall the experience was fantastic, it was an opportunity to meet interesting people, make local connections, immerse ourselves in the beauty of Moroccan culture and become familiar with the dynamics of an NGO in the humanitarian sector. This internship felt like a dream.
Do you have recommendations about packing and budgeting?
My recommendations for the more practical aspects of the trip would be to get ready to take cash out of the ATMs frequently. The majority of purchases within the medina are made with cash. Outside the medina, feel free to use credit or debit cards. Plan your budget for lunches, grocery store items, weekend excursions, souvenirs (Morocco has lots of beautiful and locally crafted goods), and emergency spending. Pack a small portable fan if possible; it can get very hot in the summer. Lastly, pack a bathing suit if you enjoy beach activities. For women, I suggest bringing swim shorts and a modest one-piece.
What were the most unexpected/wonderful aspects of Morocco?
Something I really enjoyed in Morocco was the presence of cats. I was not expecting such a close relationship between them and the local residents. Due to Islamic culture emphasizing their cleanliness and honorable nature, cats are granted natural freedom to roam around while also being cared for and fed often. The majority of cats there are super friendly because of this.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Rabat is an excellent place to live while interning. The medina is safe, lively, and accessible. There are dining options in the city for vegans/vegetarians. The people are warm and attentive. Moroccan society has preserved its own traditional culture, yet is quite open to foreigners. I do recommend keeping a general sense of discretion, especially for women and LGBTQIA+ people. My last recommendation is to try to learn Arabic phrases before undertaking the internship. Though it’s possible to simply rely on French, it would be much more special and immersive to learn their local language.
Ready to start planning your own internship abroad? Here’s how to started!
Our step-by-step guide on how it works provides you with more information on how to get started. The process is user friendly - just submit your application to get started. It doesn’t cost anything to apply and won’t take more than 5 minutes. However, your formal expression of interest provides the foundation for us to help you take the next steps.