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International Trip to North Africa

Posted by Active Citizens Chamber on Tue, 07-01-2020

The NUIG Active Citizens' Chamber Society was invited to Medenine, Tunisia by the 2019 Junior Chamber International Medenine President Mongia kharchoufi. As we embarked on a new journey on foreign soil on a different continent to ours, we never could have imagined we would be treated with such hospitality. From day 1, the people of JCI Medenine/JCI Tunisia treated us like family. We are eternally grateful for this Experience. 

There was two people waiting for us at the airport when we arrived, they gave us a very warm welcome and escorted us to our accommodation and bought us coffee along the way. They were very beneficial to us as we couldn’t speak Arabic, so they very much helped us around and one of our members rode a camel on their very first day in Tunisia! Something he never did before. We had a long journey to our hotel but that was desirable because we had the opportunity to see the beautiful landscape and we also travelled on a long bridge that the romans built over 500 years ago.

On Day 2, We met the National Vice-President of Junior Chamber Tunisia, something I never expected would happen. We had a pleasant conversation about our experiences in JCI (Junior Chamber International) and what could we collectively do together right now for positive change since we were both in the country. After consultation with other members we decided we would visit autistic children in a rehabilitation centre and give them gifts. We also consulted with the Tunisian National Guard and gave our road safety leaflets to car users. Never did we imagine we would do this or learn to say hello in Arabic so we could communicate with them! We then visited a very ancient mountain were people still live in Toujene. We then had food in a cave where the food is cooked fresh. It’s very different to what we normally have but we liked it so much and we want to have it again.

What our Auditor, Jason found interesting about the trip was "The caves in the mountains, some of the caves are named after old Tunisian words such as AZINZ which I found very symbolic. I also learned how they much olive oil, they use a system in a cave where a camel is used to turn a stone around in a circle, it’s very old style and I like it. I also saw a woman carrying water up a hill on the mountain via a donkey, I thought this type of lifestyle doesn’t happen anymore, so I was flabbergasted. I also had the opportunity to stop and gaze at the very beautiful valleys, there’s nothing like this in Ireland. Their music is wonderful".

This is what one of our mmbers Remon said about the trip. " We also had Traditional food at my now friend’s house, we sat on a matt with our legs folded. I ate so many new types of food to me some I still don’t know the name of. I know one of them is called couscous. I also had a special type of milk which is completely different to milk back home. I also found the milkshakes completely different in terms of size and creativity. I tried new types of pastries that I’ve never seen before. I’ve met so many nice people and I wish them all the best in life. I also travelled to a big farm that my friend’s father owns. It has a big tree house with lots of farm animals such as cats, dogs, horses, chickens, hens and peacocks. We stayed in the tree house until darkness and lit a campfire and sang songs. An experience like no other! The next day we picked some fruit at the farm. This fruit is not available in Ireland, I’ve never seen it before in my life. It’s called figs".

The next day we went to The Medenine International Cultural Festival and that blew our minds. Never have we listened to such beautiful traditional music of Medenine. We loved the performances and a man who was writing traditional words with sand. We also thought the MC was very brave because she spoke to such a very large audience and she’s very young. Fair play to her! Our members also spoke on Tunisian TV about their experience of the Festival, never did we expect to speak on TV in a different country on a trip!. We also visited the Traditional custom houses of Medenine in which people lived in the past.  Our Society also visited an old castle in Derjba.

We loved how it didn’t matter that we weren't from the country and the people didn’t previously know us, we are JCI and we are family! 

To conclude, the hardest part of this holiday wasn’t getting up at 5am in the morning to catch a bus to come to Tunisia, nor was having a flight at 6am the next morning or the expenses paid. Neither was it not knowing Arabic or it being our first time in Africa, the hardest part was saying goodbye to all our new friends. We love the people and they will always have a very special place in our hearts. We hope to return the favour if they ever came to Ireland. On behalf of the Active Citizens' Chamber Society to the people of Junior Chamber Medenine, Tunisia, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE LIFE LONG MEMORIES! 

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