CorpsAfrica hosted its first All-Country Conference in Morocco in October 2016. Volunteers and staff from Morocco, Senegal, and Malawi gathered to attend a series of presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and a reception followed by exciting visits to former and current Volunteers’ sites.
The first week of the All-Country Conference began with an elaborate introduction for each of the three country offices and the Headquarters. Volunteers and staff had several opportunities to introduce themselves and their activities through discussions, icebreakers, and more, through which deep relationships and friendships began to form. the CorpsAfrica group attended informative, relevant sessions on a variety of topics, such as Setting Expectations on Site, Blogs and Storytelling, Project Development and Management, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Translating the CorpsAfrica Experience in the Job Search. Hands-on workshops, such as Human-Centered Design, were also part of the agenda. The group also attended presentations from the OCP Foundation, different Development Partners, and the new CorpsAfrica Alumni Association.
The CorpsAfrica bond was further strengthened during the “Cultural Night,” where Volunteers and staff all participated in cooking and sharing meals from the different countries, followed by a fun evening of singing and dancing to local pieces of music. Throughout this first week, the group shared rooms, meals, experiences, and unforgettable memories.
On Saturday, October 8th, the group gathered during a beautiful evening for presentations led by Volunteers. Each CorpsAfrica country was represented by two Volunteers who presented their experiences at their sites and their projects. The presentations were then followed by a networking reception with the 120 guests including corporate sponsors, Moroccan NGO leaders, academics, CorpsAfrica alumni, Board members, teachers, students, and families of the Casablanca American School community.
The second week of the All-Country Conference consisted of site visits. The Volunteers and staff began with a visit to rural El Jadida, a region where several OCPF CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteers served. The group was warmly welcomed by the community and attended a formal presentation made by a local high school’s staff and students. The CorpsAfrica team also toured the library project that was implemented by Volunteers Ali El-Kassas and Abderrahim Boualy. The next day was a day off in Essaouira.
The next sites visited were located in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The group hiked an intense but beautiful 4 hours to arrive at the Azzaden Valley, another area where several CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteers served. The group split into two and each headed to its respective village, their homes for the following two and a half days. The Volunteers and staff visited and evaluated existing projects (preschool project by Hiba Tazi, water projects by Soufien Merzoug and Mourad Abdennebi, and stairs project by Soufian Aaraichi) and performed Human-Centered Design activities. They interviewed the communities and conducted surveys. During one of the evenings, both villages celebrated CorpsAfrica and its guests through an Amazigh fun dance and music festival.
The conference ended with a cozy dinner in Marrakesh. Liz Fanning presented certificates to each Volunteer, and she and Directors Mamadou Sarr and Adam Gaskins made moving, reflective speeches to the group.
The All-Country Conference was nothing short of spectacular. It was a period of sharing experiences and stories, learning from one another, forming lifelong friendships, and bonding over their shared passion for serving one’s country and continent through CorpsAfrica.
Read more about this exciting eleven-day conference in this detailed report!