EducationOpinion

I Said YES!

Casablanca, Morocco

Okay! here is my answer: Yes! Yes, you can!

Are you wondering about the question? Well, let’s make it clear. Can working in clubs and volunteering with NGOs help in acquiring and enhancing one’s meta and soft skills? I said yes!

Now, let’s still have a discussion to make this answer clear or at least show how it can be possible.

Service Learning has been within my area of interest since 2014, which is the year I participated in the International Visitor Leadership Program in the USA. One of the many places I visited learning about volunteering in the U.S. was the University of Denver’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning. In addition, I had discussed the impact of service learning in the HQ of the State Department before I went to Colorado.

Before that fruitful exchange and since 6th grade, I have been having a rich experience working in school clubs and NGOs here in Morocco. Knowing about the local-global challenges, one can only find project-based thinking as the answer. To explain, the SDGs hosted by the United Nations can be met only by adapting a project-based mindset because reaching each and every goal of those within the framework of sustainable development is already requiring governments and NGOs to design projects and not only fragments of actions and activities. To be prepared for some of these challenges, there are many project sub-skills that are needed, and I strongly think that they can be acquired by a boomerang strategy of work, as I call it, which is going to be explained in these following paragraphs.

That boomerang strategy depends on a three-phase process of preparing members of school clubs and NGOs to reach the answer I already gave.  The first phase is about training members to understand projects and their requirements. For that, I highly recommend bplans.com as a website to use. This step aims at empowering members with tools of presence when it comes to being a participant in a project. In addition, they can be introduced to meta-skills and soft skills as another step of creating that awareness atmosphere in order to give them the chance of knowing what they are going to learn by service after.

The second phase is about service itself and moving to action. NGOs and Clubs should adopt a method of delegation when it comes to their projects giving a chance to their members to lead projects and learn by doing. During this phase of work, members should seek presence during each and every action adapting a growth mindset of welcoming feedback and staying away from ego.

The third phase is mainly about reflection and coming back to training again in order to test the outcomes with win-or-learn thinking. One more thing! Agile leadership provides many useful tools from which clubs and NGOs can be inspired. I have already mentioned their importance in my latest article with Moroccopens.

Finally, project-based work can also be adapted in teaching, and it can empower students with the needed skills for getting along and getting ahead. This has been shown as a positive relation to me by an action research I conducted in 2016, which is the first year I officially started teaching in the public sector.

Yahya Echattoui

is a teacher of English at Ibn Batouta Public High School, Mediouna, Casablanca. He is also a soft skills facilitator with AEFSTM at FST, faculty of Science and Technology, Mohamadia. Yahya is also a public speaking coach, trainer and judge, business pitching coach, debate trainer and jury member (WSDC and LD formats), trainer of AGILE LEADERSHIP, and an IVLP alumnus. [/author]
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