Friday, March 23, 2012

You are blessed :-)

Have you realized that every day is a blessing?  The moment you wake up is already a blessing.  It is a blessing that God has given you another day to live and enjoy life.  For the past 5 years, I started this habit of writing down every single blessing that I have received for the day.  The blessing may be as little as getting a parking spot with so much ease or as grand as being chosen to represent IBM Philippines amongst thousands of applicants and getting an all expense paid trip to Morocco – if it is a blessing, I jot it down to remind me how blessed I am and how God keeps tab of me because I am His child. :-)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sale, Hassan Tower & Mausoleum of Mohammed V

For a change of scenery, Tracey, Tej,and I rode the tram to Sale which is the other side of Rabat. This is by far the most relaxing day I had.  Most of my days these past few weeks are so hectic and full that I usually just have 2 hours during the night to do non-work related stuff at the hotel.  (Add the fact that I always take a bath at night because I don’t want to go to bed with all the dirt which leaves me just an hour of free time before I sleep.) >.<

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2Ms: Medina and Matsuri Hunt

Tracey and I planned to go on a day trip to Meknes and see Volubilis, which is an ancient Roman ruin that stretches out to over 40 hectares, however, our client told us that it is not safe for two women to go there on our own since it is very far from everything else.  Since most of our teammates are not available this Saturday, we just went to Rabat Medina and strolled mostly along Rue des Consuls which is the "artisan" end of the Medina, near the Kasbah to do some shopping.  Tracey (the “Shopaholic”) again won the “Shopper Award.” I wonder though how she would pack all those stuff in her luggage. Hmmm…

Friday, March 16, 2012

So far, so good!

Within two weeks, we were able to produce A LOT.  We created a Team Charter which contained the organization’s objectives, vision, mission, values, team structure, each committee’s roles, activities and responsibilities, process flows, roles of engagement, key contact details, etc.; List of suggested tools and services which the organization can use to increase their effectiveness, productivity and revenue; Minutes of the Meeting (MOM) Template; Partnership & Projects Pipeline Spreadsheet which would contain details of their current and upcoming projects, sponsors, partners, activities, events, etc; Membership Master File which will be used to track current mentor/mentee tandems and members’ details; Training Manual Template which will be used by trainers as their guidance on how to prepare , conduct and wrap up trainings; Training Day Evaluation Summary Spreadsheet which would show the members’ evaluation results thru charts and a lot of suggestions for sustainability for each committee on how to sustain and improve the organization. Tracey also provided Microsoft Project and Project Management Training Presentation to orient the committee heads. Due to time and schedule constraints, Tracey had to squeeze the training which normally takes six-days into 2 hours. GAH! >.<

We also made French versions of our deliverables as most of them don’t speak English.  Thanks to Google translate by the way. :-P 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 2: All around Fez

We started the day by having breakfast at the riad and then a little shopping at the souk.  Amy didn't go with us as she wanted to have some more time to sleep. Shopping with Tracey (aka "the shopaholic") is really enjoyable because we don't feel pressured to buy anymore. hehe! :D  This morning, Tracey and Rahul bought some paintings and silver tea pot set while I on the other hand bought some trinkets. :P  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Day 1: All around Fez

I felt safer in Fez.  We've been to Medinas in Rabat, Marrakesh and Fez and I thought all these would just be the same but I noticed that the people in Fez are less aggressive.  They tend to smile more than the others as well.  I also noticed that some of the sellers here speak English so it was easier for us to bargain. 

As soon as we arrived in Fez Yamanda, we just dropped our bags, waited for Thami (our guide) and off we went to a seven hour walking-tour around the labyrinth medina.  According to Thami, there were over 80,000 souks in the medina.  It was soooo large that it’s easy to get lost in it. You can’t tour the medina via a car as the alleyways are so narrow.  Also, it is best to do the tour on foot as you will be able to see and experience more of the city.  

Fes Yamanda -- a lovely riad

One of our clients at the MWM organization (Laila Miyara) owns a riad in Fez so we grabbed the chance and made reservations with her for a weekend getaway.  Fez is a 2.5 hour train ride from Rabat.  We got the first-class ticket for this trip so we'll all be together in a cabin. :-)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Work, work, work..Int'l Women's Day at Mai Thai

It has been a very hectic week for me and Tracey.  We’ve had so much deliverables which should be done in 2 weeks’ time -- 2 weeks!! >.<  We had meetings almost every day with different committee heads and tackled their areas of concern and how we could improve them.  I had to produce a partnership spreadsheet which MWM could use to track all their projects and partnership / sponsorship deals; a Training Manual which would serve as a guideline for the trainers; a Membership Master File which would contain the tandems / groupings, Group Tandem Average Total Score Chart and the Members’ Details, an Overall Planned Activities Calendar for 2012 to name a few.  We also need to produce a Team Charter template which would contain their roles and responsibilities and processes, and Tracey has to do a presentation on Project Management Theory and MS Project which is a 6-day training course and she has to present this within 2 hours max. GAHHH! >.<

with Manal & Tracey

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fight the Fat via Morning Power Walk

I’ve been eating A LOT lately.  My typical breakfast back in the Philippines would consist of just the following: a glass of milk, a glass of apple shake and a glass of water --- that’s it.  For lunch, I would have wheat bread and dessert if I’m craving for sweets.  I would usually have the “real full meal” during dinner because that’s when I’m with my family.  I know it should be the other way around and that I should eat more during breakfast but I prefer to eat my complete meal with the whole family. :-)

Since I arrived here in Morocco, I’ve been eating full meals 3X a day.  Aside from that, we’ve been eating dinner late at night because that’s when most of us are already back at the hotel. I really need to cut down my food intake or else!!  It has only been two weeks now and I can feel that my jeans are getting tighter. >.< 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Marrakesh Weekend

It was a very tiresome week for the whole team.  We need to capture all information needed for our project/s, attend meetings, meetings and more meetings, and then submit a revised SOW by the end of the week.  Another team even experienced getting a request from the client for a totally different SOW. >.<  I thank God that we were able to get most of the information that we need for our project and that we were able to talk to most of the committee heads as scheduled.

To relax a bit, the whole team decided to go for a little roadtrip over the weekend.  We went to Marrakesh which is a 4-hour drive away from Rabat.  We hired a minibus with driver for the weekend since we are a group of 10 and it would be difficult to organize a train ride and reserve tickets, etc.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday is Prayer Day

In Morocco, Friday is prayer day and they only have couscous for lunch. According to Ilham, they usually have lunch for 2 hours and then prayer time until 3PM so you wouldn’t see anyone at work during these times.  Ilham, our client, brought some couscous for lunch and it was very delicious.  

Vegetarian Couscous for Tracey

Couscous with Beef

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dar Naji Experience

We are so blessed to have a very sweet client.  Ilham invited us (me, Tracy and Hafida) to have dinner at Dar Naji Restaurant tonight.  They offer traditional Moroccan meal but as with the other restaurants, they got only a few selection of food to offer.  The restaurant really looked nice with all those unique paintings, seats and they even got seats with tents. :-)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Amazing Race + Chinese Dinner

Today’s our second day at the client’s office and we had a very looong day.  We were able to speak with some of the commission heads and were also able to get more information of their areas of concern and improvement.  I really am very thankful that God has been faithful to me and Tracey.  I’ve been praying that God would guide us and that He’ll take care of everything and so far, I’ve seen these prayers being answered.  We were always provided with hot Moroccan mint tea, pastries, fruit, lunch, our own private room with white board and flip charts and of course a heater (which is the most important coz its cold!).  The other teams are a bit jealous of us because of all these plus the fact that we have the “feel good” project.  Tracey, being the playful individual that she is, even sent an email with a picture of the pastries, fruits and hot Moroccan mint tea to the whole team to tease them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hammam Experience -- felt like a fish being scaled :-)

Had a great first face-to-face meeting with our clients Monday morning at one of the Government Ministries. It felt like we were at some government official meeting.  According to one of my teammates, it was like we’re in a peace treaty meeting with other government official from different countries. The meeting was led and hosted by Abdelmounaim Guessous who is the Minister of Economic Affairs. We had translators interpreting the presentations for us since most of the conversations were in French. Our team was divided into 4 groups and our clients are as follows: The Ministry of Agriculture, The Ministry of General and Economic Affairs, ARDI Foundation, and Moroccan Women Mentoring/Networking.  I was assigned with the Moroccan Women Mentoring/Networking organization and I am partnered with IBM Australia’s representative, Tracey Pickersgill.  We were tasked to make a 2 year strategic action plan for the organization and make recommendations for marketing, communication and financial sustainability.  I took a shot of our meeting place and here’s how it looks:

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kasbah des Oudaias & the Medina

Sunday was by far the best day yet.  The whole team went on a “walking-tour” around our hotel so we would get the feel of the neighborhood.  We checked out some restaurants for our succeeding dinners, nearby gym and grocery as well.  Our hotel is near the Medina.  The Medina is like a walled city and in it is a local market which sells different stuff such as fruits, herbs, spices, veggies, clothing, shoes, bags, etc.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kick-off at the IBM Morocco Office

We had our kick-off meeting last Saturday at the IBM Morocco office in Casablanca, which was a stone throw away from our hotel.  I would say that the kick off meeting went quite well.  We were able to meet some of the IBM leaders such as IBM Morocco’s Country General Manager, Abdallah Rachidi Alaoui; HR Country Leader Najlaa Hachami; Innovation Center & Technical Exploration Center Program Manager Asmae Chaarani; and Business Development Manager Ali Aqallal to name a few. Being able to meet these high ranking officials made me realize that what we’re doing is really of importance to IBM.  I do hope that we’ll be able to achieve everything that we were asked to do so that everyone’s happy. :-)  And oh, we were served some sweet pastries and of course, the much awaited “Moroccan mint tea.”  Loved it!!! It was an instant hit to the whole team, especially to Jailan Adly (CDC Program Manager) who had named the drink as the “Moroccan Red Bull”

Friday, February 24, 2012

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

I left Manila at around 11:30pm via Qatar Airways and had connecting flights via Doha>Tunis>Casablanca.  After 23 hours and 55 minutes, I finally arrived in Casablanca.  The whole flight was really tiring even if I just sat the whole time. The time of my arrival was almost the same as Mihoko’s (from IBM Japan) and Rahul’s (from IBM US).  It was really nice to finally meet them as it was totally different when you meet your team in person compared to all the telecons we had for the past 3 months.  I do hope that we’ll be able to bond as a team and be like a family by the end of this whole activity.  

Monday, January 30, 2012

What to do in Morocco?

I love to travel. I love to know more about the people, their culture, their FOOD, how a typical day goes in that part of the world, everything.  Last year, I also realized a desire in me which I didn't know was there.  For the past quarter years I've lived, it’s just recently that I realized that I enjoy volunteer work.  I'm not sure if most people who volunteer feel the same but I feel such great joy and accomplishment helping those in need –- help freely given which does not ask for anything in return.  I also believe that by doing these simple acts of kindness, it would give glory and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I want these people to realize that there is hope for a better future, that God did not forget them; all they need to do is seek Him and surely, if they seek Him with all their heart, they’ll find Him.

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