Our first Newsletter of the semester is written by Ayoub Bachar, a CIEE Rabat Language and Culture Peer.
Students flew into Rabat on January 25, where they were welcomed by CIEE staff and local Moroccan Language and Culture Peers, also known as "buddies”. Students moved into their homestay families right away and the next day had orientation with Madiha DeRosa and Chaimae Mahmou, another Language and Culture Peer.
During the first two weeks of the program, students had daily orientation sessions, Intensive Darija five hours a day, settled in to their host families, learned about cultural customs of Morocco, learned more about Rabat, and the best part, took part in cultural activities with the "buddies."
To become more acclimated with the space students will soon call home, and thanks to lots of support from the “buddies“, students were able to learn how to navigate parts of the city with ease. For instance, taxi stations, famous and recommended restaurants, ATMs, where to exchange money, how to use the tram and how to stay out of trouble were some of the few hot spots and topics covered.
This year is full of surprises and the best is yet to come. An example of one of our recent adventures was when students had an Arabic class at the zoo. They saw elephants, lions, cheetahs, flamingos, zebras and chimps, and learned how to say all of that, and more in Moroccan Colloquial Arabic.
Volunteering orientation session:
Madiha DeRosa and Oumaima have been a great help to students in so many respects. Oumiama, along with the “buddies”, have demonstrated what it is like to volunteer in Morocco and they have also given students some volunteering options to choose from. Buddies had the opportunity to introduce themselves in a more intimate setting, and share their life stories.
Rabat and Meknes Guided Tours
Students have already been on two excursions this session. In Rabat, they had a guided tour to Oudaya, Chalah Roman ruins, and the Hassan tower. Afterwards they had a guided tour through Mekness as well as to Vouliblis, and a guided tour of the city, which included Bab Mansor square, the old Medina, the mausoleum of Molay Ismail, and the Museum Al Jamaai.
A couple of weeks have flown by as students learned more about each other, the buddies, their surroundings and Darija. They continue to improve in communication and writing, and are learning more about Morocco than they ever could in any text book. The months to come will be filled with lifelong learning experiences. Next week, students will be going to Casablanca with Language and Culture Peers and the week after they will be visiting Asilah and Tangers.