By Matthieu Cavelius, MBA in Hospitality Management, France, 2012-2014 2nd Year
4L IMHI - ESSEC is an association that was created 11 years ago by IMHI students. The association forms teams to participate in the 4L Trophy – the largest humanitarian rally open only to students. Every year, this event brings together over 2500 students to participate in a 6000 km race across France, Spain and Morocco to provide school supplies to Moroccan children. The humanitarian actions are coordinated by the French associations “Enfant du Désert” and “Rire Médecin,” which collect school supplies for children and build classrooms. This year, 2 IMHI teams participated in the 4L Trophy. The first one was composed of Caroline Pravongviengkham and Anahita Perineau, and the second one included Pierre-Alexandre Kaouza and myself.
We were told that this project is not one long journey, but three separate journeys: before the race, during the race, and after the race. The necessary qualities for success varied over different stages, but what is sure is that time, hard work, and dedication were needed at all times.
The 4L Trophy project started 7 months before the actual race. This part was probably the most difficult, as we had to find sponsors, gather our 4L team, and prepare for the race. Finding sponsors was tough, but rewarding in terms of developing professional and personal competences. We had to be relentless, convincing, and we often faced rejection, problems, and uncertainty. But in the end, our perseverance and faith in the project are what allowed us to succeed. This is a true preparation for life, as we shall often be confronted with similar obstacles and it goes to show that you should never give up.
On Wednesday, February 12th, after 7 months of preparation, we left for the official departure point at the Parc du Futuroscope in Poitiers. Upon arriving in Poitiers, we had to finalize our registration by validating administrative documents, getting the car inspected, and checking our safety equipment.
This was the beginning of an outstanding journey. We first drove to Algeciras in Spain to take the Ferry for Tangier, Morocco. From there, we were fully immersed in the challenge as we faced sand, rocks, and other 4x4 tracks. The rally of course involved a certain number of difficulties and surprises, such as orientation issues (we got lost in the middle of the desert at night) and a few minor mechanical difficulties. On the other hand, we passed through amazing scenery, sunrises, and sunsets every single day, which made for an unbelievably journey. Throughout the event, we were motivated by the generosity and mutual support that we showed each other, no matter the situation. The grand finale was the marathon challenge during which we were all alone in the desert for 2 days, which made us feel alive and proud. It left us with indescribable good feelings. Throughout the week-long rally, you have to be thoroughly organized, respectful and patient, not only with your team mate, but with all the participants.
The rally was also a great personal development experience. It prepared
us to undertake a project from beginning to end, to constantly face the
unexpected, and to take quick decisions in “hostile” environments (out
of our comfort zones).
We are now beginning the final part of our 4L Trophy 2014 journey; we have to fix up the car, re-sell it, and report our actions to our sponsor.
The 4L Trophy is a once in a lifetime experience that students definitely should participate in. We will remember this journey for the rest of our lives.