Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reflecting On My Internship Experience: Ambar Khawaja

Written by DSH Intern: Ambar Khawaja

Ambar during her trip to the desert
I have just finished my time as an intern at Dar Si Hmad, so I wanted to reflect on the four months I spent here. I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people on some amazing projects, and I will remember being here as a formative experience in my life.
Through Dar Si Hmad, I worked on two main projects, GRACE and planning the EFS 10th anniversary celebration. Both have helped me develop my professional and interpersonal skills. I learned how to be an effective teacher and manage a classroom, while still providing fun and exciting content to make my students interested in the material. I also grew from learning how to continue when things aren’t going my way.
With GRACE, I started off with around 40 girls, but due to some scheduling conflicts, about 10 girls had to drop out, leaving me with only thirty students. While slightly disheartening, I was reminded that it isn’t about the quantity but rather about the impact. With EFS, I developed the capacity to think about many different aspects of one project, particularly from the logistical side.
Ambar and some of her students (Grace beneficiaries) 
What really felt like the most insightful aspect of working here was simply being around the daily activities of a well-functioning NGO. I was surrounded by different ways of thinking, and I got to understand how gears are constantly turning even in the absence of active projects. I feel equipped with these new skills, and I am excited to see how they fare for the rest of my gap year and once I start school.
I recently walked past the hotel I stayed in during my first night in Morocco. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “wow, this doesn’t feel so daunting anymore”. Looking back at myself being terrified, too nervous to walk more than 5 feet to a restaurant, and staying hidden in the hotel, I can safely say I have grown a lot. To be completely honest, it makes me laugh. Who was she? I don’t know her anymore.
A picture from her trip to Essaouira
I remember a list of goals I wrote down before coming here, one of which included being able to hold a basic conversation with another person only in Darija, which is the colloquial Arabic spoken here. I am pleasantly surprised with my ability to communicate in Darija now and have learned quite a bit through my language classes with my tremendously helpful teacher, Lahcen. I love being able to come home and talk to my host mother about my day with her being able to understand me (for the most part).
While I am definitely going to miss being at Dar Si Hmad, I know I will be staying in touch with the organization and hope to visit it again in the future. My heart feels happy knowing that I have done good work here, and it has motivated me to continue working on what I hope to accomplish in the future.
Ambar with Dar Si Hmad Staff at her last day of the internship

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