Seventeen University of Arkansas at Little Rock students will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience the unique culture of Morocco while serving as international diplomats competing at the International Model Arab League conference.
The students depart for Morocco Oct. 17 and return on Oct. 26. The students and their majors include Mariam Bouzihay, psychology; Sydney Brazil, philosophy; Madeline Burke, international studies; Prince Beasley, special education; Ryan Bourgoin, Molly Edwards, Landon DeKay, Anika Partlow-Loyall, Claire Mitchell, and Madison Rodgers, all political science; Solomon “Ra’phael” Davis, philosophy and international studies; Brittany Fugate, history; Maria Romero, marketing and international business; Issac Thomas, history and political science; Allie Woodville, political science and anthropology; Colin Davies, political science, psychology, and criminal justice; and Kaitlin Zakrzewski, criminal justice and anthropology.
The Model Arab League is a student leadership development program created by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations. It is a simulation of an international organization, the League of Arab States, which represents 22 countries. The conference will convene at the Université International de Rabat, where UA Little Rock students will act as representatives of Sudan, Kuwait, Oman, Tunisia, and Morocco. They will tackle diplomatic panels on defense, Palestinian affairs, refugees, social issues, and environmental affairs.
“Model Arab League is a fantastic experience for students since they are able to take on the perspective of another country and learn how to use diplomatic skills to resolve international problems,” said Dr. Rebecca Glazier, associate professor of political science who will be leading the trip. “This is an amazing opportunity for our students, and one that few students get to have.”
Additionally, the students will experience a cultural tour of Morocco, including camel rides and camping in the Merzouga Desert. They will also visit the Todgha Gorges, a series of limestone river canyons in the High Atlas Mountains, Casablanca, and parliament, where they will meet with Moroccan political leaders.
Sophomore Landon DeKay of Maumelle is looking forward to the trip: “I am looking forward to immersing myself in a new culture that I have never experienced before,” DeKay said. “This is my first time traveling internationally, and it will be a great experience. I am most looking forward to the desert excursion, where I will be riding a camel for the first time.”
The UA Little Rock Middle Eastern Studies program is subsidizing the trip to promote study abroad opportunities for students, so the students are only paying $1,000 each to go on the trip.
“This trip is designed to make study abroad accessible for students who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity,” Glazier said. “This can be a life-changing experience for students to be immersed in a completely different culture and new location. That is why the Middle Eastern Studies Program is creating anew scholarship to fund study abroad opportunities. We hope to provide an opportunity to travel to Morocco every other year in the future.”
The students will be writing a daily blog of their adventures in Morocco that can be viewed on theSchool of Public Affairs website and will host a public event to discuss the trip and award the first UA Little Rock Model Arab League Alumni Excellence Award on Friday, Nov. 8 at UA Little Rock Downtown.
In the upper right photo, UA Little Rock student Andrea Elias rides a camel through the Moroccan desert during the 2016 trip to the International Model Arab League in Morocco.