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Postcard from Morocco

Jenn Wilson
Class of 2012, majoring in international affairs and philosophy
Participating in Dialogue of Civilizations program in Morocco

Our program here focuses on the history and contemporary culture of Morocco. We have also had a brief introduction to Darija, the local Arabic dialect of Morocco, which has proved invaluable while taking taxis, haggling with vendors and generally living in Morocco. Our experiences have also included site visits to NGOs and other organizations, tours of sections of Marrakech and Fez by experts in academic fields, and intercultural dialogues with Moroccan students.

To learn world history while traveling the world is one of the greatest benefits of the Dialogue of Civilizations programs. While in Marrakech, I could sit in the remains of Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur’s Badi Palace, look around at the ruins and at what were once reflection pools — now home to rows of orange trees — while reading an account of their splendor as it was over four hundred years ago. To a student of history, the experience is truly exciting.

More significantly, we have been able to have a social impact in each place we visit in Morocco, limited as it may be. In the high Atlas Mountains village of Tidili, for example, our group had the opportunity to rebuild a stone wall that had collapsed. The wall surrounds the only primary school within an hour’s hike from the village, and its collapse meant that there was nothing but a flimsy chain link fence separating the grounds of the school from a sheer drop down a rocky mountain face. This experience and the incredibly hospitable people of Tidili made our entire mountain trek all the more memorable.

Our group ranges from second-year students to recent graduates and includes economics, finance, and criminal justice students as well as international affairs and history. This medley of opinions and perspectives has contributed to the value of the program. Together, we have come to love Morocco and its people.

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