Morocco Exchange, known as the cultural highlight of Central’s Granada semester, is an intense excursion across the Strait of Gibraltar to North Africa, where program director Veronica Montero says, “Nothing is typical.”
For four days each semester, students travel throughout the Kingdom of Morocco to meet with peers, participate in homestays and visit historical sites and ruins. Montero says the schedule is action-packed.
- On the first day, students travel from Tarifa, Spain, by ferry to Tangier, where they visit a women’s center and have lunch with students from the University of Tangier. After visiting Assilah for a walking tour in the afternoon, students travel to the capital of Rabat to meet their host families for the night.
- On Day 2, students meet peers from the University of Rabat, visit monuments, meet with Fulbright scholars and Peace Corps volunteers in the region, and have lunch with their host families.
- On Day 3, they leave the capital for a mountain village, where they visit a school and have lunch with a local family. That afternoon, students travel to the fortress town of Chaouen, where they spend the night in a hotel.
- On the final day, students take a walking tour of Chaouen before heading to Ceuta for the return trip to Granada.
When students return, Montero says they are more knowledgeable about many aspects of the region, including society, economics, education and politics.
“Our students are the perfect age to experience and explore places, people and things,” Montero says. “When students arrive in Granada, see their surroundings and hear the historical background of the city, they develop a bigger interest in getting to know more about the history, the culture of Islam and the culture of Spain.”
Modic points out the importance of the Morocco Exchange’s emphasis on direct student-to-student contact. “There is lots of time built into the schedule to create new relationships,” Modic said. “In their group discussions with Moroccan peers, students talk about everything from their reactions to political events to their favorite new websites.”
Montero says the students become enthralled with the hospitality of their host families. “They are very aware of the land they are visiting and the people they are talking to,” she says.
Destiny Romberg ’16 says the experience has impacted the way she views her future. “The program influenced my career decision-making by allowing me to be more open to other people and their backgrounds,” says the sociology and Spanish double major.
As the program celebrates its 10th anniversary, Montero recalls the Exchange was once “simply an idea.” At that time, students were informed about Morocco through a presentation by program leaders. Morocco Exchange became an official part of the Granada program in fall 2009, and Montero said it “provides a safe environment for students, who always come with eyes open in astonishment.”