We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.
The following is a post from 2012 Mosaic Fellowship recipient Brian Harley. Brian will soon be taking part in a two-week Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteer program in Morocco, where he will be working with a children’s charity. AUA wishes to thank the Semper Fi Fund for supporting Brian, a Marine Corps veteran, on his volunteer journey abroad.
It’s my final week at home before my program in Rabat, Morocco and needless to say I am feeling excited, anxious, and a wide range of other emotions. I feel this wide range of emotions mainly because this program, for me, almost did not happen at all.
It started last year when I entered to be selected for the America’s Unofficial Ambassador grant from Creative Learning after seeing it on Cross Cultural Solutions’ Facebook page. Believe it or not I applied on a whim thinking I wouldn’t ever get selected yet after scrambling to get together the required materials for the application there I was in my home with the good news.
It took quite a while to get the remaining funds needed to do the program, but with a bit of determination and a lot of luck I was able to finally able to secure the funds about two weeks or so before my start date (April 13th, 2013). It’s been a roller coaster trying to get all the last minute things situated before departure. Roller coaster or not I welcome it because it wasn’t too long ago I was on the verge of not being able to go at all.
Needless to say I was in a bit of a slump from this point on but did not give up on my goal. I had to try just about everything someone who is fundraising would do to get the word out. Sometimes it worked, most times it did not. I was almost used to knowing what failure felt like at this point and it was not helpful. But I had a mission I had to and wanted to complete since my last big program with Cross Cultural Solutions in 2009 when I was in Salvador, Brasil. That was to continue to make an impact onto the lives of others. So I didn’t give up.
I was originally supposed to depart in December, but plans got delayed a few months and with a sympathetic ear I was able to make my case to some as to why they should aide in my cause. After several conversations it hit me that they were going to help me and I would be able to do something, one of the few things that give me a great sense of purpose, I enjoyed so much again.
A lot of things have run through my mind about this program; how would I react to it after having not done one in so long? What would it be like in Muslim country? Will I like the food?
I won’t be able to answer that until after I get there and will be something I might get into further in the next blog. What I can answer now is that I haven’t felt this way in quite some time. That feeling I speak of is that I am about to do something worthwhile, something that will have a meaningful impact on the lives of children, something that was worth the struggle for.
It wasn’t long ago my program was at risk of being cancelled due to not being sure if I would be able to raise the funds to purchase the ticket which had been the last major obstacle in my way, but with some hard work and a lot of luck I was able to overcome it. Not to say everything went smoothly, but the most important things are covered and I’ll be able to do one of the things in life I know I can do with much success, make children laugh.