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.