Loren Irene Sandoval Arteaga

At the age of 19 Loren has lived in five different countries. A travel addict, a coffee lover, and sunset chaser, you can never find her still in one place.

Why did you choose this program?

As a woman that grew up in Mexico I was witness to the inequalities between men and women in my society. These abuses often let me angry, frustrated and wishing that I could have an active role in stopping it.

The program in Morocco attracted me even more because no only was the organization working with women but with indigenous women that had even less opportunities and political voice in a country that is still prominently male dominated.

The idea that I was able to make a change and contribute to the world gave me motivation to take this opportunity.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Love Volunteers was a great mediator between me and my organization. They took care of contacting the NGO and arranging the accommodation in Rabat.

All of my questions were answered quickly and they made sure I had all the necessary information. The only thing I had to do for myself was find the flight and get medical insurance/vaccines.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I think the most important thing is not to have expectations. Most of the time, things never go as we imagine and that leads to disappointment.

Being prepared for the idea that you might be working in an office and doing logistical work, rather than hands on work, is also helpful. If you are hesitant about volunteering abroad, don't be. It is one of the greatest, most profitable experiences one could ever have.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

A normal day consisted on going to my organization around 10 am and working at the office translating documents, organizing workshops or looking up information.

At 16:00 I would be out of the office and be able to wander around the city and grab a coffee, walk along the beach, or visit one of the many touristic sites in Rabat.

I would often meet friends as well and go out to explore the Medina and ruins near the city. In the evening I would go back to the volunteer house to meet with the rest of the volunteers, have dinner and talk for a while before going to bed.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it and/or how did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was without doubt the religious difference between Morocco and my own country. The media has spread stereotypes about Islam that have really affected the way we see Muslim countries and sometimes family members are not very encouraging.

However, once I was living there I found it ridiculous that it was my fear before coming. Once I started immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people I realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and felt at home in a matter of days.

How is it for a woman to travel alone in Morocco?

This is one of the questions I was asked the most. I think that traveling as a woman in Morocco has its own challenges but at the same time was very empowering.

It is normal for men to cat call women walking on the streets and approach them with inappropriate comments and questions. It is not something to be afraid of, and the best thing to do is simply ignore them and keep doing your own thing. However, it can be a little scary for those of us who are not used to the attention.

On the other hand, being able to travel alone and be independent in a country where the society is mostly male dominant, can give a woman a lot of self confidence.