Learn about migration through discussions with asylum seekers, Syrian refugees, Moroccan immigrants in Europe, and the communities impacted by migration.
Live and study in Rabat’s centuries-old medina.
The program is hosted by the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, housed in a beautiful, nineteenth-century Moorish riad in Rabat’s sixteenth-century medina, founded by Moorish refugees fleeing Spain after the fall of Granada. The center is near the twelfth-century Kasbah Oudayas and the Ville Nouvelle, established by the French colonial administration at the beginning of the twentieth century. Your immersion in Moroccan culture is greatly facilitated through an twelve-week homestay with a working- or middle-class Moroccan family.
Travel to the Netherlands to see the impact of migration on a host country.
You’ll spend eight days in the Netherlands. Here, you’ll visit Moroccan immigrant neighborhoods and Dutch Parliament. You’ll meet with elected officials, Dutch students, NGO activists, and Moroccan immigrants to gain an understanding of migration issues from a variety of perspectives.
Earn six credits of Arabic.
Based on in-country evaluations, you will be placed in beginning, intermediate, or advanced classes and receive 90 hours of intensive instruction in Modern Standard Arabic, focusing on developing your reading, writing, listening, grammar, vocabulary, and conversation skills so you can participate in everyday communication. You will practice your language skills in homestays, on excursions, and during daily interactions with Moroccans. You will also receive 15 hours of instruction in Moroccan dialect.
Travel to Morocco’s northeast coast and to the Rif and High Atlas Mountains.
Discover the culture and pre-Islamic myths and rituals of Morocco’s indigenous Amazigh population in the High Atlas Mountains. Learn about Moroccan-Spanish border dynamics on excursions to the coastal city Nador and the island of Badis. Visit Moroccan communities affected by emigration to Europe in the 1990s and the current return migration following Europe’s economic crisis.
Meet regularly with Moroccan students to discuss the issues you’re studying.
You will have regular discussions, in and out of the classroom, with Moroccan university students at both Mohammed V University in Rabat and Iben Tofail University in Kenitra. Topics for discussion may include youth and migration, gender issues, religion, human rights, and the influence of Europe. You will also have the opportunity to attend lectures at Mohammed V University with your Moroccan peers, and Moroccan students are invited to attend select lectures and field visits organized by SIT.
Choose between an Independent Study Project and an internship.
Hear the experiences of sub-Saharan asylum seekers and Syrian refugees.
Critical Global Issue of Study
Migration | Identity | Resilience
There are no prerequisites; however, students with a background in French will find ample opportunity for French language practice while also learning Arabic. Students with a background in Spanish will also have the opportunity to practice their Spanish language skills in northern Morocco.
Key Topics of Study
Key Topics of Study
- The experiences of sub-Saharan African asylum seekers and Syrian refugees and related issues of human rights
- Factors driving internal and international migration in Morocco and elsewhere in North and sub-Saharan Africa
- The impact of remittances on rural communities in the High Atlas and Rif Mountains
- NGOs’ roles in promoting human rights for immigrants and integrating Syrian refugees in Moroccan society
- Moroccan immigrants in Europe, the cross-border labor force, and Morocco-European Union relations
- Effects of human mobility on communities, politics, and economies
- Perception of Moroccan immigrants and Islam in the Netherlands
- Social and psychological impacts of migration
- Immigrant youth and identity
- Gender and migration
Please note that in order to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, program excursions may occasionally vary.
On an eight-day excursion to Amsterdam, you will consider the growing presence of Moroccans in Europe, particularly the Netherlands, and examine the impact of migration on the host country. You will be immersed in many of the central debates surrounding the growing Muslim presence in Europe, including the varied reactions of Dutch politics and the rise of anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim parties, “success stories” of Muslim migrants and issues surrounding “integration,” and ideological constructions of Muslim identity.
To do this, you will meet with Moroccans living in the Netherlands, including first-generation women immigrants and second-generation Moroccan/Dutch elected officials, and with Dutch students and politicians. You will hear lectures from academics and NGO activists on the history of Moroccan migration to the Netherlands and examine Dutch patterns of integration and transnational activism between northern Morocco and the Netherlands.
Excursions highlights may include:
- Roundtable discussion with Dutch students at the University of Amsterdam
- Lecture by the Dutch-Moroccan novelist and 2013 Goncourt Prize winner Fouad Laroui
- Visits to Dutch-Moroccan labor migration associations
- Learning about Dutch-Moroccan women’s activism in the Netherlands
- Guided tour of Dutch Parliament, where you will meet Dutch politicians learn about Dutch politics and migration policies, including the rise of right-wing politics and Islamophobia
- Visits to Moroccan immigrant neighborhoods
The program may also spend some time in Leiden and The Hague. During the excursion, you will stay in guest houses and hotels.
The Northeast of Morocco
Around three quarters of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands are from the northeast of Morocco. The program travels to Al Hoceima and Nador in Morocco’s northeast to enable you to situate migration in its cultural, historic, and economic contexts and to see the impact of migration on the sending country.
In Al Hoceima, you will meet activists involved in migration, gender, memory and history, and development. You will also learn about the identity-based movements that distinguish this region from the rest of the country.
You will visit nongovernmental organizations working with Moroccan government and international aid agencies (such as the Spanish organization Movemiento por La Paz) in the Rif region. These NGOs provide vocational training and experience to youth and returning migrants. The Moroccan National Initiative for Human Development has a base in Al Hoceima and in the nearby national park.
Nador and Badis
In the border town of Nador and on the island of Badis, you will learn about Moroccan-Spanish border dynamics. In Nador, you will talk to human rights activists about immigrants’ attempts to challenge European fences and militarized borders. On Badis, you will see a complicated border marked by a Spanish outpost on Moroccan soil.
You may also visit organizations such as the Association Bades d’Animation Sociale et Economique, which provides counseling and coaching for return migrants from the Netherlands and acts as mediator between migrants and Dutch state institutions; Thaynith, which preserves Amazigh culture and language; and Rif Memory, which reconstructs and rewrites the recent history of Rif, attempting to move beyond ideological and political biases.
The program’s third excursion is a three-day experience in Khouribga, Fqih Ben Saleh, and Beni Mellal, where you will explore the causes of migration and assess migration’s impact on rural communities.
Fqih Ben Saleh is a small town in the Tadla Azilal plains where remittances from Moroccan immigrants have sparked socioeconomic growth. You will meet with migrant associations and discuss the relationship between development and migration. You will also meet young people and compare perspectives on migration and youth disenfranchisement.
The Migration and Transnational Identity course examines the historical, economic, political, and cultural underpinnings of migration. The approach is informed by the reality that migration is more dynamic than static push-pull models or simplified economic or demographic interpretations can reflect. Rather, the course challenges the student to approach migration from a multidisciplinary perspective in which migration is only one constituent part of more complex economic, development, demographic, and cultural processes. The Research Methods and Ethics course addresses culturally appropriate, ethical field methodology in the context of migration issues, in preparation for the Independent Study Project. Study of Arabic opens windows into the culture and the program’s theme.
The following syllabi are representative of this program. Because courses develop and change over time to take advantage of dynamic learning opportunities, actual course content will vary from term to term. The syllabi can be useful for students, faculty, and study abroad offices in assessing credit transfer. Read more about credit transfer.
- Migration and Transnational Identity – syllabus
- (AFRS3000 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course provides the main context for students to engage academically, epistemologically, and intellectually with the theme of migration and mobility. Students utilize a multi-level and multi-disciplinary approach that considers core issues of local and global cultural politics, development policies and their implications on national economies, local communities, and human rights, all in the context of transnational mobility. The course facilitates the student's development of critical perspectives capable of assimilating the reality of interconnectedness and transnationalization not only of problems, but more important, of viable alternatives. The course is divided into modules, which explore the following themes: culture and the Mediterranean space; sub-Saharan African immigrants in Morocco and trans-Saharan crossings and related issues of human rights and refugee status; Moroccan immigrants in Europe and development; gender and migration, and social movements and transnational identities. Throughout the course, readings and class discussions address issues of religion, race, gender, identity, undocumented and underage migrants, citizenship, and nationality.
- Beginning Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
- (ARAB1006-1506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
- (ARAB2006-2506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- Advanced Modern Standard Arabic – syllabus
- (ARAB3006-3506 / 6 credits / 90 hours)
- The course is designed to equip students with a proficiency level in spoken Modern Standard Arabic in order to engage in everyday communication. The course integrates the skills of reading, writing, listening, grammar, vocabulary, and conversation. Students with prior study in Arabic will find reinforcement of Modern Standard Arabic through the media. Homestays, field excursions, and everyday interactions assist in language acquisition.
- Research Methods and Ethics – syllabus
- (ANTH3500 / 3 credits / 45 hours)
- This course is designed to provide firsthand and experiential knowledge about the richness and challenges of conducting field study in Morocco. It provides the necessary conceptual and methodological thread that enables the student to learn from experience, to apply the knowledge and skills gained in language study and the thematic course, and to prepare to undertake field study in Morocco in strict observance of research procedure involving human subjects and the regulatory ethical norms defined by the Institutional Review Board. At the end of the course, the student should have the cultural understanding and the methodological tools to successfully complete an Independent Study Project. The course is also designed to answer specific concerns that research on migration generally raises. Migration involves minors, undocumented migrants in transit, friends and families of victims of clandestine migrants, policy makers, and international organizations. The lectures address issues that pertain to research methods, confidentiality and anonymity of informants, data gathering and interviewing, and safety and migrant psychology. Individual meetings are scheduled throughout the course to address research objectives and expectations of each student.
In addition to taking the above courses, students will also need to enroll in one of the following two courses:
- Internship and Seminar – syllabus
- (ITRN3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- This seminar consists of a four-week internship with a local community organization, research organization, business, or international NGO. The aim of the internship is to enable the student to gain valuable work experience and to enhance their skills in an international work environment. Students will complete an internship and submit a paper in which they process their learning experience on the job, analyze an issue important to the organization, and/or design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization. A focus will be on linking internship learning with the program’s critical global issue focus and overall program theme.
- Independent Study Project – syllabus
- (ISPR3000 / 4 credits / 120 hours)
- Conducted in Rabat or another approved location in Morocco appropriate to the project. Students work closely with their academic director and a local advisor to design and build their Independent Study Project (ISP). Sample topic areas: creating a common culture among Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans through Gnawa music; the relationship between the Kingdom of Morocco and its residents abroad; the incorporation of migration into death experiences within and beyond Morocco; the consequences of irregular migration on racial perceptions; the spiritual, geographical, and musical origins of flamenco in the Maghreb; unpacking the social, cultural, and historical aspects of Moroccan migration.
Faculty and Staff
Faculty and Staff
Mohamed Benzidan, PhD, Academic Director
Mohamed has more than three decades’ experience in research, administrative management, and teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He co-founded a master’s degree program in Moroccan-American studies, co-directed a doctoral program on language and transculturalism, and chaired the Department of English at Hassan II University in Casablanca, Morocco. He was also a visiting professor at Kennesaw State University in 2012. Mohamed holds a doctoral degree in cultural studies and a master’s degree in comparative literature from Mohammed V University, Rabat, Morocco. His current research interests cover media and migration studies, transnational art and religion, and philosophy. Mohamed is a regular contributor to academic journals either as writer or editor and has been a member of the Arab Society of English Language Studies advisory board. His most recent publications include articles on Moroccan diasporic literature.
Abdelhay Moudden, PhD, Senior Advisor
Abdelhay earned his PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and has been professor of political science and international relations at Mohamed V University since 1978. He was academic director of SIT’s Multiculturalism and Human Rights program in Morocco from 1992 to 2013. In 1995, he founded the Center for Cross Cultural Learning and is its academic director. In 2013, he became senior advisor to SIT programs in Morocco. Abdelhay is a member of the Consultative Council on Human Rights and was a member of the Moroccan Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004–2005). He has published articles on Moroccan politics and culture and two novels, the latest of which, The Farewell Sermon, won the 2004 Morocco book award.
Doha Lmachichi, Homestay Director
Doha holds a BA in Arabic language and literature from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. She has taught Modern Standard Arabic and the Darija dialect at the Center for Cross Cultural Learning since 1997. She is the homestay coordinator for all the programs at the center. Doha was raised in Rabat’s medina, where most of the program’s host families are located; she knows every family with which the program works. She has coordinated SIT homestays for around a decade. She studies the profile of students and families before making assignments and remains a resource throughout the semester on homestay issues.
Bouchra Sahimda, Language Director
Bouchra received a BA in international relations from Mohammed V University’s Faculty of Law and brings years of language teaching experience to the classroom. She joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, the program’s host institution, in 2003 as an Arabic instructor and became language coordinator in 2005. She supervises the Moroccan Arabic language placement test, regularly meets with language instructors, teaches when needed, and oversees the Moroccan Arabic program.
Badrdine Boulaid, MA, Program Assistant
Badrdine has a BA in English studies with a major in linguistics and translation from the University Ibn Tofail in Kenitra and an MA in cross-cultural studies from Mohammed V University in Rabat. He joined the Center for Cross Cultural Learning in 2005 to teach Modern Standard Arabic and the Darija dialect. He has filled many roles, including director, with other SIT programs. Since 2007, Badrdine has trained staff members in cross-cultural education and teaching Arabic. He has rich experience and knowledge in intercultural learning, gender dynamics, leadership, and cross-cultural dialogue.
Key lecturers for this program include:
Ahmed Abadi, PhD
Ahmed is a professor of theology and comparative religions and general secretary of the Mohamedan League of Ulemas (Muslim Scholars). He is an expert in Sufi philosophy and thought and has organized and participated in international conferences and roundtable discussions on interfaith issues and cross-cultural dialogue.
Youssouf Amine Elalamy, PhD
Youssouf is a professor of media studies at Ibn Tofail University, Kenitra, and a novelist and artist. He is the author of A Moroccan in New York and Sea Drinkers (published by Lexington Books) and of a transnational book project: Un roman dans la ville (A Novel in the City).
Khadija Elmadmad, PhD
Khadija is an attorney with the Rabat Bar Association of Law and holder of the UNESCO Chair in Migration and Human Rights at the University Hassan II in Casablanca. She is president of the Casablanca Center on Migration and Humanitarian Laws; legal coordinator for Morocco of the Euro-Mediterranean Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration in Florence, Italy; a member of the scientific board of the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project; and UNESCO chair on women’s rights. She is a consultant for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNESCO, the International Labor Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and the Moroccan Red Crescent. Her books include Asile et réfugiés dans les pays afro-arabes (Asylum and Refugees in the Afro-Arab Countries) and Les migrants et leurs droits au Maghreb (Migrants and Their Rights in the Maghreb).
Driss Maghraoui, PhD
Driss is a professor of history and international relations at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane and teaches North African immigration in Europe, modern imperialism and its culture, history of the Arab world, and history and memory in twentieth-century Europe. He has been a visiting professor at Yale and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His most recent publications include “Secularism in Morocco: A Stagnant Word in Motion,” “Northern Africa: Historical Links with Sub-Saharan Africa,” “Perceptions of External Pressure to Democratization: The Moroccan Case,” and “The ‘Grande Guerre Sainte’: Moroccan Colonial Troops and Workers in the First World War.”
Fouad Laroui, PhD
An engineer, Fouad studied at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris. After working for a phosphate mining company in Morocco, he lived in England, then Amsterdam, where he teaches econometrics and environmental science. He has written novels, short stories, and essays. He often critiques Morocco, particularly its corruption and bureaucracy. He was born in Oujda in 1958. His father disappeared when he was eleven, presumably arrested by the Moroccan authorities, and was never seen again.
Nadia Bourass, PhD
Nadia holds a PhD in history and specializes in gender and Moroccan immigration and transnationalism in the Netherlands. She is a member of the governing bodies of the Euro-Mediterranean Migration and Development Centre and Gresen Links Amsterdam (Green Left Party).
The homestay is an integral part of the SIT experience. During your homestay, you’ll become a member of a local family, sharing meals with them, joining them for special occasions, talking with them in their language, and experiencing the host country through their eyes. Homestay placements are arranged by a local coordinator who carefully screens and approves each family. Students frequently cite the homestay as the highlight of their program. Read more about SIT homestays.
Living with a host family is an integral component of the Migration and Transnational Identity program. Homestays provide you with a unique window into the daily life, values, and perspectives of Moroccan families and let you practice language skills, particularly darija (Moroccan Arabic) and, in some cases, French. The program offers two homestays in very different environments, revealing the differences between life in urban and rural Moroccan communities.
You will live with a middle- or working-class family in Rabat for twelve weeks. Homestay families live in the city's seventeenth-century medina, a captivating and historic area with an original architectural style. With your host families, you will experience Moroccan daily life, accompanying family members on regular activities such as shopping in the souk, going on café outings, and visiting the neighborhood bakery. You will also have the opportunity to see the public bath. You may take part in family weddings, newborn-naming ceremonies, or a soccer match.
The homestay is coordinated by the host institution, the Center for Cross Cultural Learning, which has collaborated with homestay families for more than a decade.
Other accommodations during the program include hostels, guest houses, or small hotels.
Alum presents research at 2016 Human Development Conference
Independent Study Project
Independent Study Project
You will work closely with your academic director and an advisor to design an Independent Study Project (ISP) on a topic that pertains to migration, mobility, or transnational identity. The ISP provides you with an opportunity to pursue original research on a specific aspect of migration that pertains to your academic interests or personal inclination. The ISP is conducted in Rabat or in another approved location in Morocco appropriate to the project.
Sample ISP topic areas:
- Creating a common culture among Moroccans and sub-Saharan Africans through Gnawa music
- The relationship between the Kingdom of Morocco and its residents abroad
- Consequences of irregular migration on racial perceptions
- Syrian refugees in Morocco
- LGBT refugees in Morocco
- Transnational dimensions of Sufi Islam
- Migrant images in Moroccan media
- Youth and emigration
- Causes and consequences of clandestine migration
- Sub-Saharan immigrants and their integration in Moroccan society
- European immigration laws and their impact on migration trends in Morocco
- Migrant remittances and local development
- Life narratives of migrants
- Migration and youth protest movements
- Sub-Saharan migration and access to healthcare
- European economic crisis and return migration
- Moroccan diaspora in Europe and modernization policies in Morocco
- Female sub-Saharan activism in Rabat
- Morocco and the transnational “War on Terror”
- Refugees and labor rights in Rabat and Casablanca
- Masculinity and returning migrants from Italy
You can choose between an ISP and an internship.
If you choose to complete an internship during the last four weeks of this program, you will be placed with an organization in Morocco to gain work experience and develop professional skills. SIT internships are hands-on and reflective. In addition to completing the internship, you will submit a paper about your learning experience on the job and analyzing an issue important to the organization you worked with. You may also design a socially responsible solution to a problem identified by the organization.
- Providing aid to women and children, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups living in poverty with Caritas Morocco
- Supporting a UN refugee agency’s efforts to protect the rights and well-being of refugees in Rabat
- Helping Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) provide healthcare to migrants
- Participating in anti-racism campaigns in Morocco with GADEM
A diversity of students representing different colleges, universities, and majors study abroad on this program. Many of them have gone on to do amazing things that connect back to their experience abroad with SIT. Recent positions held by alumni of this program include:
- Intern at an immigration law firm
- Intern at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva, Switzerland
- Fulbright scholars
- Education volunteer with the Peace Corps working with a Haitian immigrant community in the Dominican Republic
Cost and Scholarships
Cost and Scholarships
SIT Study Abroad is committed to making international education accessible to all students. Scholarship awards generally range from $500 to $5,000 for semester programs and $500 to $3,000 for summer programs. This year, SIT will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships and grants to SIT Study Abroad students.
SIT Pell Grant Match Award. SIT Study Abroad provides matching grants to students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding for the term during which they are studying with SIT. This award can be applied to any SIT program. Qualified students must complete the scholarship portion of their application. View all SIT Study Abroad scholarships.
The tuition fee covers the following program components:
- Cost of all lecturers who provide instruction to students in the modules on migration, culture, and the Mediterranean space; Moroccan residents and sub-Saharan immigrants in Morocco; migration and development; and migration and human rights
- Research Methods and Ethics course on research methods and Human Subjects Review to prepare you for successful completion of primary field research in Morocco for the Independent Study Project
- Intensive language instruction in Modern Standard Arabic
- All educational excursions to locations in northern Morocco such as Al Hoceima, Nador, Chefchaouen, Fnideq, Khouribga, Fqih Ben Saleh, and Beni Mellal at the foot of the High Atlas Mountains, and to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, including all related travel costs
- Independent Study Project or internship (including a stipend for accommodation and food)
- Health insurance throughout the entire program period
Room & Board: $3,035
The room and board fee covers the following program components:
- All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes during orientation, time in the program base (Rabat), on all excursions, during the Independent Study Project or internship, and during the final evaluation period. Accommodation is covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend provided to each student, or through the homestay.
- Homestay (twelve weeks in Rabat)
- All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly, through a stipend, or through the homestay.
Estimated Additional Costs:
International Airfare to Program Launch Site
International airline pricing can vary greatly due to the volatility of airline industry pricing, flight availability, and specific flexibility/restrictions on the type of ticket purchased. Students may choose to take advantage of frequent flyer or other airline awards available to them, which could significantly lower their travel costs.
Books & Supplies: $120
International Phone: Each student must have a phone in each country. Cost varies according to personal preferences, phone plans, data plans, etc.
Personal expenses during the program vary based on individual spending habits and budgets. While all meals and accommodations are covered in the room and board fee, incidentals and personal transportation costs differ depending on the non-program-related interests and pursuits of each student. To learn more about personal budgeting, we recommend speaking with alumni who participated in a program in your region. See a full list of our alumni contacts. Please note that free time to pursue non-program-related activities is limited.
Please Note: Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.