Since departing from Syracuse in mid-August, I have been a participant in AMIDEAST’s direct enroll program at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. The first portion of the program took place in Morocco’s political and administrative capital, Rabat, and included a 10-day cultural immersion seminar. During this time, I was provided with a background in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, Darija, in addition to taking several classes pertaining to Moroccan culture and history. Moreover, while in Rabat I was given the opportunity to live with a host family and experience inter-cultural communication in an immersive and highly rewarding manner (while also enjoying the most delicious home cooking I have ever been graced with).
Following this orientation, I arrived at Al Akhwayan, a university situated high in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, only about an hour from Fes, the country’s bustling cultural center. Embracing the American model of higher education, Al Akhwayan operates entirely in English and offers a vast variety of courses at the graduate level. The university provides students with a wide range of political science, history, and anthropology classes — particularly those concerning the Middle East and North Africa, religious studies, diplomatic negotiation, and international relations as a broadened study. As a frame of reference, I am currently enrolled in four courses: Global Islam in the Contemporary, Middle Eastern Politics, History of North Africa, and finally, Security & Foreign Policy of the Middle Eastern States. Thus far, I have very much enjoyed the academic experience I have been offered through AUI. I have found the professors to be knowledgeable and accommodating and the courses they teach to be both rigorous and rewarding.
In addition, Al Akhwayan was founded with the unique mission of providing a venue for intercultural exchange among students of secondary education. As such, AUI privileges the notion of global education and places particular emphasis on its international exchange programs. As a result, AUI effectively fosters a large community of students from both local regions and abroad, creating a student body comprised of individuals from numerous diverse backgrounds and cultures.
Well on this program I have also had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Morocco and other Maghrebi countries. I have been lucky enough to witness the beauty of the region first-hand while simultaneously discovering a new and exciting culture.
As a MAIR student focused on the Middle East and North Africa, I find that my time at Al Akhwayan has been incredibly gratifying. As I reflect on my experience, I truly believe that this program has unequivocally enriched my understanding of the complexities and richness surrounding my regional interests.
With a background in the Arabic language, Abbie Champeau is a MAIR student focusing on MENA.