Colleen Dunne from University of South Carolina studying abroad in Alicante, Spain.
For each city that we visited on the Morocco Tour, USAC arranged a culture activity that allowed us to come away with knowledge that we would not have acquired by simply sightseeing or conversing with locals in the street. Without a doubt, my favorite was the one that took place at the American Legation in Tangier. The American Legation was the United States’ first possession outside U.S. territory and for 140 years it served as the U.S. consulate in Morocco. The tour of the American Legation alone was impressive, as we were presented with information about American-Moroccan relations and how the two cultures have influenced each other in contemporary history. Still, what was most memorable was the roundtable—a facilitated discussion and open exchange of ideas—led by Fullbright scholar Kahina Haynes. Ms. Haynes is currently collaborating with the King Fahd School of Translation in Tangier and brought several of her students to the American Legation to participate in the discussion with us. Among them were Achraf Eddagouri, Ibtissam Chahbouni, Naoufal Baouch, Mchicho Sara, Hajar Tarhnchi, Latifa Haboula, and Reda Ed-Daoumi.
To conclude, Ms. Haynes posed the question: How can we bring about change? We discussed the importance of education in confronting prejudice and preventing discrimination. I shared my evolutionary perspective on prejudice, which suggests that prejudice is inherent in human nature because it once served a biological purpose—protection from the possibly dangerous “other”—but that we can learn not to discriminate based on these prejudices through interaction and education. We also mentioned the importance of using the media as a tool rather than a weapon. We reached the conclusion that if the purveyors of our media were better educated in terms of culture and psychology, we could realistically bring about positive change in the coming decades. After the roundtable with the local Moroccan students, we went all together to DARNA (our home), which is an NGO organization that serves as a community house for women in risk of exclusion. We had a guided visit of the place and had their traditional couscous for lunch. The conversation with the Moroccan students continued during lunch!
– Colleen Dunne, University of South Carolina