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UA Little Rock students get taste of life in Morocco

UA Little Rock students visit the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco, the largest mosque in Africa. Photo by Larry Rhodes.

The 17 University of Arkansas at Little Rock students who traveled abroad to Morocco returned with lifelong friendships, cultural and leadership experience, and memories that will last a lifetime. 

The students competed at the International Model Arab League, a student leadership program that simulates the League of Arab States, at the Université International de Rabat in Morocco in October. After the conference, the students went on a cultural tour of Morocco, including camel rides and camping in the Merzouga Desert. 

“Camels are like a weird combination of horses and cats,” said Nikki Partlow-Loyall, junior political science major. “When you go down a hill, you are holding on for dear life. I learned not to put my hands near the camel’s mouth because they spit a lot.” 

Since the trip was Partlow-Loyall’s first time participating in Model Arab League, she spent months preparing for her role as a delegate for Morocco. 

“The most exciting part of the trip was the first day of the conference,” she said. “I have never done model anything before, so I spent months studying the handbook and doing so much research. I was very nervous on the first day, but I found myself confidant working with the other delegates. I wouldn’t have changed anything about the trip.” 

Issac Thomas, sophomore political science and history major, enjoyed experiencing a new culture during his first trip abroad.  

“The most exciting thing beyond a shadow of a doubt was interacting with the local people and hearing them speak their local dialects,” Thomas said. “I couldn’t understand any of it, but it makes you realize you are in the old world and in the heart of ancient traditions.” 

Thomas was so moved by the kindness and generosity he saw in Morocco that he would like to study abroad there in the future. 

“I like to meet people from all different parts of the world,” Thomas said. “To me, there is nothing more boring than living the same life when you can meet different people and have new experiences. There is an overall feeling of friendliness in Morocco. I would love to study abroad in Rabat because it really made an impression.” 

Solomon “Rap’hael” Davis, a senior philosophy and international studies major, will forever be touched by the lifelong friendships he made with roommates at the International Model Arab League. 

“The most powerful part of the trip for me was the people I met while in Morocco and the relationships I built during the trip,” Davis said. “My roommates were Martin, a French Jamaican who lives in Canada, and Abdul, a Nigerian man who lives in Morocco. We became very good friends over the trip.” 

Davis was surprised by the instant connection that he felt with people he’s only known for a short amount of time. 

“When we got back from Morocco at the airport, I took out my cell phone, and I had two very heartwarming messages from Martin and Abdul,” he said. “It really means a lot to me that these two people I met two weeks ago cared enough to see if I made it home safely. Abdul called me his ‘friend and brother.’ I almost started crying. These connections are so natural that I am sure the friendships will last a lifetime.”