• morroco1morocco2camel
    One thing I learned that I cannot stress enough is the importance of learning other languages and about different cultures. Traveling abroad is an eye-opening experience, extremely beneficial to the one who participates. I highly recommend study abroad to anyone who is interested!

    Just a little about the study abroad programs that I attended:
    I applied to the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State for both my travel abroad experiences. NSLI-Y is a program that specifically focuses on language development in "critical languages" including: Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Hindi, Turkish, etc. (Basically non-romance languages which the government deems as being critical).
    I applied to this program during my sophomore year to study Arabic for the upcoming summer. I had to go through an intense application process which included two/three essays, one/two letters of recommendation, and interviews for my parents and for myself. I think 1700+ students apply for the program in total, and around 400 students will receive a scholarship to attend one of these programs. The numbers are growing each year!
    NSLI-Y has year-long, semester-long, and summer programs. I attended the summer program with 19 other American students through a sub branch of NSLI-Y called Legacy International. This program is also a full scholarship- all expenses paid. The only money I had to spend was spending money for whatever I wanted to buy. We also received $35-$40 stipends each week.
    - I traveled to Marrakesh, Morocco to study Arabic while I lived with a host family in the heart of the city. This program was 5 weeks in duration, and included Arabic lessons at the local "American Language Center" and travels to experience Moroccan culture firsthand. My favorite memories include riding camels and spending the night in the middle of the Sahara Desert, shopping (and bargaining!!) at the market, being able to speak Arabic with local Moroccans (and also speaking dialect), drinking tea 5 times a day, and spending time with my host family!
    During my Junior year, I applied for the NSLI-Y program, but this time I applied to study Chinese. I went through a similar application and interview process, but instead received another scholarship to study Arabic in El Jadida, Morocco; which is a very small coastal town, completely different from the busy, tourist Marrakech. This program also consisted of 20 summer long students and 5 year long students. This program was through iEARN (International Education and Resource Network). Although I was studying Arabic, this program was very different. I was at an advantage, because I had already experienced Moroccan culture and life abroad. We studied Arabic at a local private school for 7 weeks. My favorite memories from this trip were traveling to the historic city of Fez, going to the beach, and making lifelong relationships with Moroccans my age.
    I think my experiences in Morocco definitely played a huge role in defining my character, my identity, and just my overall growth as a young woman. I'm so fortunate to have received such amazing opportunities to travel abroad.
    Jenna (Class of 2011)