Boston University students will have the opportunity to study abroad in Morocco's capital city and learn about the Arabic language beginning in spring 2009, officials said.
BU International Programs needed to find a place that would appeal to more students after a lack of interest in newly instated Egypt study abroad program, International Programs British Programs Management Assistant Director Leilani Olson said. She said she suggested Morocco after she visited the country in January of 2007.
"I set up contacts and met with language institutions there," Olson said. "I looked in Rabat and Fez and got a feel for each location. There was a consensus for Rabat since it had the best resources for what BU wanted to offer and the most experience with language teaching."
The program is intended to introduce students to Islamic and North African culture, but BU's primary focus is to expose students to the Arabic language, Olson said.
"This is the first-ever program that offers intensive Arabic courses with eight out of sixteen credits for Arabic language instruction," Olson said.
The Morocco program will be the only foreign language program at BU that does not require students to know the language prior to applying, Olson said. A working knowledge of the language is encouraged, however, so students can communicate with their host families.
In terms of student safety in Morocco, Olson said the country is not different from any other one offered through the International Programs.
"There is no need to be any more concerned about Morocco than with any other countries that we offer for study abroad," Olson said. "Students are given the basic safety and health information and just need to be conscious of their surroundings as is needed for every other program."
The program location runs through the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in Morocco, which works with several smaller American colleges like Wellesley and Williams colleges, CCCL founder Farah Cherif D'Ouezzan said.
"Boston University is a much bigger school with a wider range of departments and academic disciplines and a larger Arabic department," he said. "We are hoping that these strengths of Boston University will provide us with the opportunity to create stronger ties between American students, faculty members and Arabic teachers from Morocco."
Aside from the educational aspects of the program, Rabat is culturally rich city famous for beautiful monuments and colonial architecture, D'Ouezzan said. It provides guests with the excitement of an Islamic-influenced city and the comfort of modern Morocco.
The program also includes guest lecture series, excursions, music performances, group discussions with Moroccan scholars, and numerous hands-on activities such as Moroccan cooking and dance lessons.
"The geographic location of Morocco is great because you are in close proximity to Europe while living in the midst of African culture," School of Hospitality Administration junior Rissa Freedman said. "It's just a really unique place, and I think it was a great place to add on the abroad list."