The University of Arizona (UA) Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) conducted a Fulbright-Hays Curriculum Development Teach Morocco program. This program took thirteen full-time K-12 educators and pre-service educators to southern Morocco. The travel portion of the program took place for four weeks during summer 2010. The program enabled educators to integrate area studies and language exposure into many segments of the curriculum and several different content areas.
The program was led by two UA personnel, both of whom are experts on Morocco and fluent in the Moroccan dialect of Arabic. The Scholar/escort was Aomar Boum and is a professor specializing in Moroccan minorities and the economic/environmental adaptation of the peoples of southern Morocco. The project director was Tara Deubel who was finishing her doctoral dissertation on the oral literature/identity of the nomadic pastoralists of southern Morocco. The group project focused on the southern regions of Morocco, areas that are seldom visited by tourists.
The objectives of the Teach Morocco program were threefold:
- Teacher-participants, many of them from the Arizona desert regions, examined the process of adaptation to a desert environment by learning about the nomadic and settled populations in the area.
- The seminar and study trip developed teachers’ knowledge of the history, geography, cultures, literatures, arts, and language of this little-known part of the world, which is an important borderland joining Middle Eastern and African civilizations.
- The program provided American teachers the opportunity to meet with educators in Morocco, establishing an international dialogue about teaching methods and collaborative projects.
Teach Morocco was a rigorous, rewarding experience for its participants. CMES provided administration for the program and worked with operators in Morocco to coordinate in-country travel, lodging, field trips, and meetings with local teachers. The project led to the development of integrated curricular units with a broad-based educational impact. The focus on environmental issues connected Social Studies to Science, while the examination of borderlands cultural contacts integrated the fine arts, literature, history, and economics.