Name: Lydia Whitbeck
Hometown: Okemos, Michigan
Nationality: United States
University: University Of Michigan
Degree: Biology And International Studies
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (advanced), and Arabic (beginner)
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Strengthening NGO Capacity in Rabat, Morocco
Duration: 6 weeks
Start month: May 2016
Claim to fame: Over the years Lydia learned to be accepting of different backgrounds and respectful of different ways of thinking and living. Her previous job taught her to be responsible and diligent in the tasks she was assigned. Lydia is innovative and a quick learner as well.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become an UBELONG Volunteer because I loved the idea of volunteering abroad. I also wanted to experience an Arabic speaking country, and UBELONG was one of the only organizations that had a program in an Arabic speaking country. Also, I loved the option of working with a NGO, and having the option to work with a NGO for 6 weeks in another country is something that attracted me.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I think that the biggest impact I had on my project was the English lessons during lunch with my coworkers. I hope that the English lessons I designed for them will help them succeed in their work and daily life.
What were your major challenges?
One major challenge I faced was learning to be more patient. Morocco is all around a country that moves slower, especially compared to the US, and this took some time to get used to. Also the language barrier was a huge obstacle. This also required a lot of patience (as well as charades) to maneuver. It surprised me how much harder even the simplest of tasks (like buying a water bottle, or trying to find the train station) was when I couldn’t communicate with people.
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was just being able to interact with the locals and how welcoming and kind everyone was. From my host family, to the program coordinators, to the guy who owned a shop outside my house, they were all so helpful and kind throughout the entire 6 weeks and I think that they really made my experience as great as it was.