GEBG Morocco 2019
Exploring SDGS in Context
The breathtaking scenery, great diversity, and famous hospitality of the Moroccan people provide a wonderful context for this program. A melting pot of histories, religions, and cultures that demonstrate the intricate connections that bind us together, Morocco is an ideal setting for students to develop cross-cultural competencies, engage with issues of global significance, and deepen their knowledge of other cultural contexts.
Through interacting and engaging with diverse Moroccan traditions, students will also be able to understand and reflect on a range of issues directly related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Moroccan identity is elusive, consisting of many cultural, historic, and geographic influences including Berber culture, Roman history, Arab influence, and French colonialism. Students dive into an exploration of their own identity through understanding the complexity of identity in Morocco.
SDGs in Focus
We immerse within the intellectual capital of Fes to explore the education opportunities available to young Moroccans, as well as the role of intellectualism in advancing civil society. Is this access equal?
Students explore the context of the struggle for gender equality in a predominantly-Muslim country. We examine our assumptions and compare them to what we learn directly from the stories of Moroccan women and men working to advance the rights of women.
Morocco oscillates between a lingering colonial identity of old wealth and structured society, with a rising Pan-African globalism focused on economic advancement and prosperity for all. We explore these tensions through direct interaction with Moroccans from all backgrounds and all walks of life.
Life on Land
How is land managed in North Africa? What are Morocco’s emerging strategies to protect biodiversity while also developing the nation economically? We explore small to large-scale farming, land management, fertilizer use, and learn about local species in the varied topographical regions we visit.
Students take an active role in critical learning about the Sustainable Development Goals, building understanding of the role of the goals, and how they are applied in a country context, while also enjoying opportunities to explore their specific interests in development in the field.
In pairs with a peer from a different school, students select an SDG to focus their learning throughout the program. Through their experiences in daily activities as well as through group and team reflections, student groups begin to understand the programs ongoing in Morocco that seek to address their SDG. Rather than taking things at face value, Envoys staff and traveling faculty help students develop lenses of critical inquiry and analysis.
FINAL POLICY SIMULATION
Our learning of the specific SDGs culminates in a half-day simulation where students assume roles of various stakeholders, policymakers, and diplomats involved in the design and fulfillment of the SDGs in Morocco. Students advocate for funding for a specific program they design from a panel of “UN” judges (traveling team as well as invited guests from our different immersions in SDG-relevant organizations).
The SDGs outline ambitious targets for individual nations with little to no policy implementation strategy for their achievement. In the context of Morocco, what does extraordinary leadership look like towards achieving the goals? Should this be the work of distinct grassroots organizations? What is the role of the local UNDP office in their achievement?
We explore the theory of servant leadership as it is applied to the SDGs. How do the individuals we meet from various international and national organizations, and ordinary individuals, model servant leadership?
We explore Islam in Morocco from a positive disposition, engaging in conversations with Morrocans about the religion, its morals, and its perception internationaly versus in Morocco. How is this divide felt between rural and urban areas? Between women and men? Between the wealthy and those living in poverty?
The below itinerary provides one projection of the daily schedule. Changes may be made to improve the program quality, based on the logistical and educational needs of enrolled students.
The first program departure meets at JFK airport on June 8th; the second departure meets at JFK on June 19th.
Days 1/2: ARRIVAL
The group clears customs. We head to the Hassan II Mosque, the only mosque that allows non-Muslims. This experience provides an important grounding for our program and acknowledges the learning we will do together. We then travel into Rabat in the late morning. We take an early “exploratory walk” through the Old Medina area. We also open the program with a Full Value Contract conversation and introduce our program themes. Students select their SDGs of focus for the program.
Through workshops and early program lessons at Envoys’ partner organization, the CCCL, we engage in a Survival Arabic class, a workshop on traditional wooden board calligraphy, and a introduction to Moroccan culture and history. On the morning of Day 2, we participate in a “Women in Islam” workshop led by a local Moroccan female leader, acknowledging our assumptions and asking good questions to build our understanding.
Day 3 RABAT
We familiarize ourselves with the city through an exploration of iconic and historic sites, including the ancient fortress in the Kasbah des Oudaias, the symbolic Tour Hassan, and the historic ruins of Chellah. These “layers” of history, one on top of the other, provide fertile ground for discussion of cultural syncretism, assimilation, and colonization. The central question–how do inequalities emerge in a society like Morocco?
On our third day, we meet policymakers and stakeholders at the United Nations Development Program, who oversee the goals’ progress in Morocco, to host students and introduce the various programming ongoing in-country now. Students work in advance in their small project teams to develop their questions and prepare for the meeting.
Days 4-5: FES
After breakfast, we board a bus and drive towards Fes, Morocco’s intellectual capitol. We take a detour to stop at an organic farm run by a local Berber entrepreneur.The owner, Thariq, gives expert guidance and mini-lessons on the unique challenges of the organic movement in Morocco. Weather permitting, we take a short hike through small villages, greeting people whose first language is Berber and building a greater appreciation for the context in which we travel.
In Fes, we explore the medina (the largest car-free urban zone in the world), Al-Qarawiyyin University, and the famous tanneries. We then visit with local university students to learn about the educational opportunities for young people in Morocco. How do students view their education in terms of their personal development?
Days 6-7: RABAT
We split into small groups for distinct immersions at four different nonprofits whose work pertains to our four SDGs of focus.
We continue to familiarize ourselves with the city through an exploration of iconic and historic sites, including the ancient fortress in the Kasbah des Oudaias, the symbolic Tour Hassan, and the historic ruins of Chellah. These “layers” of history, one on top of the other, provide fertile ground for discussion of cultural syncretism, assimilation, and colonization. We weave our learning from each previous day into these experiences, seeking to generate new questions as we reflect while exploring the seaside next to the dramatic cliffs for which Rabat is famous.
We also give important time for students to process their learning in small teams about their individual SDGs, as they prepare for the final simulation.
Days 8-9 MARRAKECH
We wake up early and bid farewell to Rabat. After a travel day, we take a tour of the beautiful Bahia Palace before exploring the sights and sounds of Jemaa El-Fna, Marrakech’s famous night market. We visit a unique, women-founded, women-operated cooperative focused on the production of couscous and other crafts. Students have a round table discussion with the founders and president, grappling with the implications of systemic gender inequality and the challenges of empowering women in rural Morocco. Afterward, students get their hands dirty learning how to make traditional Moroccan couscous. And, of course, we enjoy a delicious meal with our hosts!
We convene our final Policy and Diplomacy Simulation, where students learning on their goal is put to the test. Students learn from their peers and also demonstrate their learning over our program together.
Day 10: PROGRAM CLOSING
We close the program with a ceremony dedicated to gratitude for each other and for the place that was our home, and then head to the airport for our return flights.
Why Collaborative Programs?
The GEBG places great value on offering collaborative travel programs for students and faculty from member schools. The collaborative model brings together students from different schools to work together before, during, and after the travel experience. A set of foundational online courses establishes a common knowledge base, after which teams of students collaborate to conduct their own research and educate the group. Teachers from member schools have opportunities to integrate the program themes and content into their classroom curriculum and make alterations to program elements to best fit the enrolled students.
These programs epitomize the quality that GEBG members desire to offer their students—including extensive pre-departure preparation, student collaboration, and itineraries that will students to understand the complexity of development and take action in the global arena.