Dialogue of Civilizations

Northeastern University’s Dialogue of Civilizations gives students the opportunity to spend five weeks abroad learning in the summer learning about foreign cultures, societies, languages, politics and a host of other subjects. In the past, faculty in the History program have organized or participated in trips to Central Europe, Spain, Morocco, Egypt and China.Through the Dialogues, participants can engage in meaningful exchanges with different parts of the world. Trips often include meetings with leading activists, government officials, community organizers, and local artists that have shaped their own country in innovative ways. For a description of summer 2012 dialogues supervised by history faculty, please see below. For more general information, please see: http://www.northeastern.edu/studyabroad/programs/?type=Dialogue+of+Civilizations

 

Summer 2012

Ghana- Designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding of Ghanaian history, culture, society, and politics with an emphasis on the role of migration in that experience.  Includes lectures, talks, discussions, and visits to sites of historical and contemporary significance.  Examines Ghana’s participation in forced labor, migration and immigration as outgrowths of a long-term process of globalization. Offers an opportunity for students to engage in sustained dialogue with university students, professors, and politicians in the country. Site visits include: Cape Coast and Elmina castles (including One Africa spa and house museum), Bonwire village (where Kente cloth is woven), the Palace and Museum of the Asantehene (Kumasi), Nkrumah Mausoleum (Accra), W. E. B. Du Bois Center (Accra), studios of Ghana TV (Accra), Kankum National Forest (including its rope bridges), Volta River boat cruise, the Port at Sekondi-Takoradi, the botanical gardens at Aburi (Greater Accra region).

 

Lebanon- The Lebanon Dialogue provides students with intensive instruction in Arabic (Lebanese dialect), at The Academy of Languages and Practical Skills (ALPS). It also offers them an in-depth overview of Lebanese and Arab politics, history, culture, and society. Besides their four-hour intensive Arabic immersion four days a week, students will attend lectures and talks, and engage in discussions while simultaneously visiting historic and cultural sites, as well as institutions that play an active role in shaping civil society and national and international politics. Students engage in sustained dialogue with Lebanese university students in Beirut and beyond, as well as interact with intellectuals, professionals, journalists, NGO leaders, policy-makers, artists and ‘average’ residents alike. One of the main themes of discussion and investigation this summer will be on the Arab Spring, with specialists from the region sharing their insight and analysis with us. Another theme will focus on Lebanese politics and society. Whether in Arabic language learning or going to lectures or “dialogues”, our program places a premium on independent efforts as well as teamwork. The week will be spent in Beirut, with weekend trips to sites such as Byblos, Baalbeck, Beiteddine and, should the situation permit it, Damascus.

 

Morocco-  

Gallery 360: Student Images of Morocco

An exhibit at Northeastern’s Gallery 360 features images from the 2012 Dialogue of Civilizations. Led by Prof. Peter Frauntholtz, students explored the culture, people, and economy of Morocco. The exhibit will be on display until January 10, 2013. See Section D of this page for more information.
See the newsletter here.

 

Eastern Europe

Summer 2010

Professor Harlow Robinson & Burleigh Hendrickson

Starting with the creation of the Austro-Hungarian dual empire in 1867, this course enables students to experience first-hand the former political and cultural centers of the empire in Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovakia), and Prague (Czech Republic). As students physically travel between these diverse regions once linked under Austro-Hungarian rule, Professor Robinson also takes them on a historical journey by addressing the empire’s fragmentation after World War I, the separation of the Eastern bloc from the Western world during the Cold War, and the current situation in each country regarding integration into the European Union in the post-1989 era. Students have the opportunity to engage with scholars, guides, and even radio personalities from these regions to gain a local perspective of events, and the itinerary also features excursions to historical sites, cultural centers, and music venues. Highlights from the 2010 Summer Dialogue included a Gustav Klimt exhibit in Vienna, visits to Turkish baths and Roman ruins in Budapest, and a trip to the Radio Free Europe headquarters in Prague where students met with foreign broadcasters. Since this program touches on a variety of issues within the former empire such as music, architecture, politics, religion, cultural identity, and economic integration, Professor Robinson’s students represent a number of academic disciplines.

Morocco

Summer 2010

Professor Fraunholtz

As part of Africa and the Arab Middle East, with ties to an ancient and adaptive Berber culture, firmly integrated into the Islamic world, and linked to the French colonial past as well as the EU, Morocco offers a unique set of opportunities and experiences for history and international affairs students in general, and those interested in Islam, Multicultural Societies, Imperialism, and Post-Colonial Development in Africa and the Middle East in particular. The Morocco Dialogue Program 2010 (May 10-June 13, 2010) engaged students with the culture, civilization, and people of Morocco: from the ancient Northern capitals of Fez and Meknes, to the Middle Atlas, to the Tafilalt Oasis near the dunes of the Sahara, to the Southern capital of Marrakech and the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains.

Morocco and Spain

Summer 2009

Professor Fraunholtz

Prof. Fraunholtz’s Dialogue of Civilizations Program in Spain and Morocco (Summer II 2009 ) involved 18 student participants exploring (1) the Arab and Islamic heritage of Al-Andalus, including Granada, Orgiva, and Salobrena, (2) the current academic debates on the nature of recent political, economic, and social reform in their historical contexts at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, and (3) everyday life, culture , and Islam in both urban and rural settings in Marrakech and the Berber villages of the High Atlas Mountains.

The 2010 version of this Dialogue of Civilization (Summer I) will involve 5 full weeks in Morocco, beginning with the first Alawi capital of Meknes before moving on to reprise our program in Marrakech and the High Atlas and then moving on to Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, the Tafilalt Oasis, and the Idrisid Capital of Fez.

As part of Africa and the Arab Middle East, with ties to an ancient and adaptive Berber culture, firmly integrated into the Islamic world, and linked to the French colonial past as well as the EU, Morocco offers a unique set of opportunities and experiences for international affairs students in general, and those interested in Islam, Multicultural Societies, Imperialism, and Post-Colonial Development in Africa and the Middle East in particular. Students in this Dialogue will have the opportunity to (1) explore the unique aspects of the major historical eras in Morocco: Islamic, French Imperialist, Post-colonial, (2) consider the complex relationship between geography and Moroccan culture and (3) identify the promises and problems involved in modernization in the Post-Colonial African/Islamic/Arab World(s).

2010 Student Commentaries

The Dialogue of Civilization in Morocco was an amazing 5 week program that included the saharan desert, i the High Atlas Mountains, and the rich history and cultures of Morocco. It was academically challenging as we learned every aspect of Morocco from the language, religion, history, culture, food, music, and even how to dance to Gnawa music. Living with host families in Marrakech was a huge change, but it made us quickly adapt and appreciate the culture in new ways. The hiking excursion in the High Atlas Mountains was the most eye opening and indescribably beautiful experience. The university students at Al Akhawayn University taught us to be open minded and embrace the difference in cultures with respect. Cities like Fez and Casablanca were hightlights of the program because we explored the most exquisite historical sites of Morocco, filled with ancient stories and charming arts. Most of all, the Dialogue was once in a lifetime chance for us to go somewhere unique and diverse like Morocco, live with the locals, and learn from the real lives of real people.

-Yaewon Kim

The three high points of the Morocco program that I will always remember are hiking in the Atlas mountains and visiting the Berber village, the homestays in Marrakech, and lastly, our trip to the Sahara desert and Tafilalt Oasis. I had never been hiking before and then to hike through the Atlas mountains and come across the different villages was very remarkable. Living in the village was very eye-opening as well. It was interesting to see the division of labor based on gender, and how self-sufficient the people were. They were so hard-working and welcoming, and I realized more than ever before how easy I have had it. It also cemented the roles that geography and culture have in trying to improve conditions in the developing world. The home-stays in Marrakech were also memorable and something I will always appreciate, from eating traditional Moroccan food to seeing just how important family is in their culture. We were able to see their culture and way of life as an insider, something that most likely would never have happened as a tourist. I learned so much about their traditions, from seeing old family albums to trying on my host mother’s wedding dresses. The trip to the Sahara desert was amazing for obvious reasons. The sunrise camel ride in the Sahara desert on my 20th birthday is something I can never forget. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I don’t think any of us on the trip truly knew what to expect going in. But that is the best part about it all and the main reason to go on a program like this, you should just dive in to the unknown and experience all you can. I would definitely recommend going on this dialogue as it is a unique opportunity to see amazing places and experience a culture very different from our own.


-Brianna Canty

Looking back on my experience in Morocco I think there are a few things in particular that still stand out to me. The first would be hiking in the Atlas. It was a physical challenge I never thought I would survive – but I ended up enjoying it immensely. Through the hiking I was also able to see another side of Morocco in the village of Tidli. The contrast between the people I met here, in my homestay in Marrakesh, and on the campus of Al Akhawayn created a complex picture of who Moroccans are – something I never expected to see so many sides of. The lasting friends I made in Marrakesh and in Ifrane influenced my trip so much, especially the homestays. Additionally, the camel ride through the dunes of the Sahara to see the sunrise was astoundingly beautiful, a moment I’ll never be able to replicate but something I’ll always remember.

-Katie Fulton

2009 Student Commentaries

The Morocco Dialogue of Civilizations was something unexpected and eye-opening. In a culture and society so different than any one I had ever experienced before, I felt comforted by the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and the openness of the men and women of the community. Learning in this environment has made me understand the history and culture of Morocco with intensity and knowledge that I did not have before. My trip to Morocco will always be highly valued, and those who I traveled together with and met in my travels will forever be in my memories.

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Kay Beach, 2011

Life in Morocco is very different than anything I have ever experienced. From the food to the everyday customs, there is so much to learn and I am happy that I was able to explore it all. I was able to get the most out of my experience by really being emersed in the diverse society and culture of Morocco. Learning Morocco’s history put everything I saw into context. Traveling to various parts of the country and staying for an extended period of time allowed me to get a well rounded view. I cannot think of a better way to truly experience a foreign culture. 


-Tomas Wind, 2011

During the Morocco Dialogue, we spent our time exploring Arabic Culture, experiencing four different languages, and learning about the history of the region. The highlights of the trip were our dialogues with Moroccan students in Marrakesh and the three-day trek through Berber villages in the High Atlas Mountains. If I could, I’d go back and do it all again!

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Nellie Moore, 2011

My time in Morocco was an invaluable experience. Not only did I learn about the history and culture of Morocco, but more importantly I gained insights into the lives of Moroccans. Talking with both adults and teenagers about their views on a range of topics, from religion to politics, expanded my own thinking in these areas.

-Emily Howlett, 2011