UKVS in Morocco!
Morocco is a country located in the northwestern corner of Africa, known for its beautiful architecture, vibrant culture, delicious food, and historical monuments. It’s a special place where the land meets both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Its culture is a melting pot of influences, reflecting its diverse history. That alone makes this country an enchanting place with unique and fascinating destinations. With being so close to Europe, it’s known as the “Gateway to Africa”.
The Beginning of UKVS Residential Trips
When our founder, Syd, first travelled to Morocco, she knew she had to share this amazing experience with our families. Not only that, at UKVS we value learning about different cultures and countries. We’ve just finished covering our 23rd country in our Worldviews classes this year. With an ever-increasing globalised world, it’s wonderful having a subject that brings both understanding and curiosity for different cultures.
As an extension of our Worldviews classes, we decided to hold yearly international residential trips! This year was our first year and we picked Morocco!
In order to make this possible, Syd visited Morocco multiple times to create connections with locals. We organised and held 2 Morocco trips with different families. The first one was held on 26th October – 5th November and the second on 28th November – 8th December 2023. We had families fly in from different parts of the world, to come together for these trips. This included America, Bermuda, Singapore, Vietnam, Latvia, UK and Portugal. It truly was a globally connected community.
We also created an activity journal for Morocco that included the country’s history, some fun facts, and of course, fun activities in the journal to match up our itinerary. If you’re planning a trip to this fantastic country, make sure you grab yourself a copy!
For the first 6 days, we explored Marrakesh, Morocco’s touristic hub, and traversed the Atlas Mountains. We visited the famous square, Jemaa el-fnaa, toured the Koutoubia Mosque, had a botanical scavenger hunt in the Majorelle Gardens, became mesmerised by the beauty of the Bahia Palace, and we even tried Moroccan henna.
To further experience Moroccan culture, we also invited a metal engraving expert as well as a calligrapher to deliver workshops in their craft. We learnt about their stories and their passion for their artisan. The parents and students even had a go for themselves and tried both metal carving and calligraphy!
Travel with Impact
One of the central focuses of our trips was social project work. If we’re travelling, why not travel with impact and give back to the local population? We ensured the itinerary included locally owned restaurants and accommodation. We also visited a school with the first group and painted a mural and planted a beautiful garden for them. The school had been impacted by the massive Earthquake that shook Morocco earlier this year. They had several new classrooms damaged and out of service. It was lovely to see all the local Moroccan students smiling and welcoming us to their small village school.
Syd had made connections with a local women’s cooperative who produced beautiful hand-made rugs. During our trips, the families were able to meet the women, explore their studio, hear their stories and purchase the beautiful handmade rugs to adorn their homes. Many of the UKVS families are keen to continue supporting the women to help them grow their rug business and create something sustainable for future generations.
At UKVS, we are super keen on giving back. Part of the residential trip fees were used to fund these local projects and experiences. This is something we hope to continue doing with each trip.
During the second trip, the group had the privilege to donate 11 bikes to children in the Atlas Mountains. On visiting the Atlas Mountains a few weeks prior, Syd had come across a boy who walked 9km each way to school everyday. His bike had broken and he was making the route to and from home to school by foot, attempting to get lifts from strangers when possible. When Syd shared this on social media, the community came together and donated for him to receive a new bike. In the end, enough money was raised for 11 bikes for 11 different children. The second group of families had the opportunity to meet Abdul-Raheem, who had inspired the entire idea. We were met with huge smiles from him and the families who received a free bike! A big thank you to everyone who donated towards this!
Visit to the Desert
It wouldn’t be a full Morocco experience without visiting the Sahara Desert. It took us 2 days of travelling to reach the desert and spend the night looking up at the beautiful night sky. Enroute to and from the desert, we made many stops including visiting an awesome Fossil Museum, exploring Galena Mines, learning about Argon Oil, visiting a Nomad Family, exploring an abandoned village, exploring an ancient Kasbah, visiting the Film Studios and so much more! The evenings were filled with music and dance, including during our night in the desert where we were met with campfire entertainment. Late into the night, the groups scanned the night skies, searching for the Big Dipper, Little Dipper and the North Star, and during breakfast the next day, we cast our eyes down to the desert sand as we explored sand grains down a microscope. .
A School Without Walls
This trip was incredibly special. Not only was it the first time our UKVS families met each other in person, it was also our very first residential trip! Our students and families got along so well. The values embedded at UKVS, were demonstrated in how the students came together and supported each other. It was incredibly heartwarming watching everyone embrace Moroccan culture, meet the locals and play with other Moroccan students. Our tagline ‘A School Without Walls’ really was materialised during this once in a lifetime opportunity. This is just the beginning of our many residential trips. As an online school, who says everything must remain virtual?
Are you a family looking to join an educational adventure? Why not sign-up to our mailing list and we’ll be sure to share details of our upcoming trips!