Beginning next year, Arabic students can travel to Rabat, Morocco, as participants in a new study abroad program, pending approval this fall. After two years without an Arabic language study abroad option, the trip to Rabat will cater to students who have taken one year of Arabic courses, placing them in homestay living arrangements.
Asian and Middle Eastern studies department chair and Arabic professor Jonathan Smolin, who will lead the Rabat program, said he is excited because the previous Tangier, Morocco program, which last ran in fall 2012, was designed for students in their junior fall.
"Now we're creating a program so students can do the first year of Arabic and then be able to go immediately after that," Smolin said. "We thought we would be able to capitalize on their experience, and they'll be fresh after first year."
A professor and teacher's assistant will accompany students on the trip. Two classes will be taught by local professors, and Smolin will teach the third. The courses will concentrate on language, society and culture enhancement, and Smolin will teach a seminar on modern Moroccan society and culture.
Emily Estelle '15, who went on the fall 2012 Tangier program as a sophomore and studied in Fez, Morocco, this spring on the Asian and Middle Eastern studies FSP, said studying Arabic intensively after just one year helped her gauge whether she wanted to continue.
"Doing the immersion right away made me realize I could do a lot more with the language," Estelle said.
The Arabic department opened the Tangier FSP to second-year Arabic students in 2012 due to a lack of third-year Arabic applicants. On the Tangier program, all of Estelle's courses concentrated on language enhancement and were taught by Arabic professor Mostafa Ouajjani. In Tangier, students did not live with locals, but had non-residential host families, with whom they ate dinner three to four times a week, Estelle said.
Elena Zinski '15, who also studied on the Tangier FSP as a sophomore in 2012, said she enjoyed speaking with Moroccans in their homes. Zinski cooked and shopped with her host family, and said she has stayed in touch.
Every Moroccan city is different, Smolin said, and it was difficult for the Arabic department to create a homestay experience for students in Tangier. The longtime administrator of the AMES FSP in Fez, Morocco, — who has worked with the College since 1997 — moved to Rabat and opened an institute, which has helped the College arrange home stays in Rabat. The institute has already identified about 50 qualified families in Rabat, Smolin said.
Tansey said in an email that the Rabat program will take applications this fall. He said he expects the program will receive final approval from the off-campus activities committee this fall.
Zinski said her time studying Arabic abroad proved to be integral to her academic experience.
"You get a full year's curriculum in one term," she said.
Since the Arabic department has not offered a study abroad option since 2012, in the program's first year, the department will accept second- and third-year Arabic students who have not been able to study Arabic abroad, Smolin said.