Name: Paloma Frautschi
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, French (fluent), Chinese (beginner)
University: New York University
Volunteer Abroad: Promoting HIV/AIDS Awareness in Rabat, Morocco
Duration: 12 weeks
Start month: March 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer as I saw it as a way of serving others while enriching myself. As my project involved work in an AIDS clinic, I was able to help patients with language barriers, promote the organization’s various operations, and learn about NGOs and their services abroad. On the weekends, I was able to visit Morocco and learn about the culture, history, and traditions. The goal of UBELONG, offering interesting and enriching volunteering projects abroad at affordable prices, while maintaining contact with the volunteer to ensure smooth transitions made the program worthwhile.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
My project involved going through data regarding sexual health risks in Rabat as well as other major cities in Morocco to reduce to risk of syphilis, STI’s and HIV/AIDS by promoting education. I assisted with many translations for the organization and encountered patients to help with Arabic to French/Spanish communications. I felt that I learned a tremendous amount regarding the current situation in Morocco for sexual health, women’s rights and migrants, and gained knowledge about NGOs, how they function and promote certain projects in the community to help reduce the spread of preventable illnesses.
What is your favorite memory?
Although I had many favorite moments, exploring the city by myself, teasing my little host brother, or being instructed by my host-grandmother and mother the proper way to eat “Medina sandwiches”- a fried fish sandwich, my favorite memory would have to be being invited to a traditional ceremony in a village by one of my fellow volunteer’s students and sitting around a table, the seven of us, sharing a massive plate of delicious lemon-olive chicken tagine and, of course, the famous Friday couscous. It was such a special moment to be included by people I had never met, and underscored the hospitality of Moroccans.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
I would consider my experience to be very eye opening and enthralling with regard to the learning the law changes that promoted liberation for the Moroccan woman and child, the traditions and recent government changes in Morocco, the diversity in tradition, the various work undertaken by organizations such as the one where I worked, all within the backdrop of beautiful and distinctive Moroccan landscapes.