Feb. 11, 2014
Khadija Al Arkoubi
WEST HAVEN, CONN. – Twelve teachers, school administrators and graduate students will be selected next month to participate in a University of New Haven-led tour of Morocco this summer.
The program, partially underwritten by a $55,733 Fulbright Hayes Projects Abroad grant received by UNH, includes educational sessions both before and after the trip. Sessions begin March 22. The federal award will fund approximately 65 percent of the total cost of the program.
The program is open to elementary or secondary teachers; school administrators who plan, conduct or supervise modern language programs; or UNH graduate students who plan to teach social sciences, humanities and/or foreign languages. It will stress multiculturalism.
“Since education is at the heart of building an inclusive and better society,” said Khadjia Al Arkoubi, assistant professor of management in the UNH College of Business, one of the professors who will lead the program, “our educators will engage in an ongoing dialogue with their students about their cultural identity, enabling them to see the cultural bridges between home and school.”
Officially called “Global Classrooms and Cultural Perspective,” the program will focus on Arabic language skills and will include peer-to-peer meetings with educators in Morocco and an overview of the Moroccan educational system.
Morocco was chosen as a destination because of its rich history, civilization and culture. “Its strategic location at the crossroads between Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic has provided it with unique and authentic characteristics that have increased its cultural and linguistic diversity,” Al Arkoubi said. “Throughout centuries, Arabs and Amazigh, Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived together in peace, giving wonderful examples of acceptance and tolerance.”
Participants in the tour will attend workshops and lectures at two Moroccan institutions, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and the International Institute for Languages and Cultures in Fez, and they will tour historical and cultural sites in Rabbet, Fez, Casablanca and Midelt.
The program is designed to raise cultural awareness, allow participants to use the Moroccan education system as a case study and begin a continuing partnership between the participants and their Moroccan counterparts. The program will also encourage the participants to reflect about stereotypes and misconceptions about both cultures.
“After going through this learning experience, our participants will recognize that students coming from a different cultural heritage have a different worldview and perceive the teaching learning process from different lenses,” said Al Arkoubi.
The program will be led by three University of New Haven faculty:
- Halima Belemlih, who will serve as project director. Belemlih, a Morocco native, is a lecturer in modern languages at UNH and speaks English, Tamazight, Arabic and French. She had a 19-year tenure at Mohammed Premier University in Ouida, Morocco, and has significant international experience in the United Kingdom and France.
- Donna Leake, coordinator of internships and recruiting for the education program at UNH. She has more than 30 years of experience as a public school educator, including as a superintendent.
- Al Arkoubi, also a native of Morocco. She has taught there and in the United Arab Emirates, as well as in the U.S. In 2012, she established an interdisciplinary research cluster at UNH on cultural exchange and interfaith dialogue between the MENA region and the US.
The University of New Haven is a private, top-tier comprehensive institution recognized as a national leader in experiential education. Founded in 1920 on the campus of Yale University in cooperation with Northeastern University, UNH moved to its current West Haven campus in 1960. The University operates a satellite campus in Tuscany, Italy, and a graduate business campus in Orange, Conn. and offers programs at several locations throughout Connecticut and in New Mexico. UNH provides its students with a unique combination of a solid liberal arts education and real-world, hands-on career and research opportunities. The University enrolls approximately 6,400 students, including nearly 1,800 graduate students and more than 4,600 undergraduates – the majority of whom reside in University housing. Through its College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, Tagliatela College of Engineering, and College of Lifelong & eLearning, UNH offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. UNH students have access to more than 50 study abroad programs worldwide, and its student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports in the NCAA Division II’s highly competitive Northeast-10 Conference.