Guest Post By: Senior studying Information System, Jaclyn Gillis. This fall, Jaclyn studied abroad with the Early Fall Start Triple Impact Africa program in Morocco.
The Triple Impact Africa Program in Morocco was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life. On this trip, we had the opportunity to tour and study in many different cities in Morocco while learning about Morocco, Islam, business and a lot about ourselves too. We stopped along the coast in Casablanca and visited many different businesses and the Hassan II Mosque, the largest Mosque in Africa. We then stopped at the capital in Rabat, where we got to meet with the U.S. embassy. Then, we got to see the ancient Roman city of Volubilis, study with the Moroccan students at Al Ahkwayn University, go on a 3-day trek through the High Atlas Mountains, and finally stop in the famous city of Marrakech.
One of my most memorable moments along the trip was strolling through the city of Fes. Fes is a very old city founded in 789 that is still working in the same way and doing the same things it has been for hundreds of years. Walking through the old Medina, I saw sights I had never seen before. There was beautiful Islamic architecture in a courtyard we stopped at with designs lining every inch of the walls and floors. The streets themselves were also the narrowest I had ever seen. Store owners and shoppers were frequently seen carrying all of their materials on the backs of donkeys or on hand pulled wagons since cars would not have been able to fit through. The streets seemed to have no structure in which direction they went. They wound back and forth and intertwined, sometimes in the open and sometimes through tunnels. If not for our guide Abdel, I surely would have gotten lost, because it was like walking through a maze. Many of the people in this city were thriving off making artisan crafts and had beautiful displays of their art hung out on the front of their shops, from ceramics, to lanterns, to rugs and scarves, they had it all. One of the most surprising shops was one displaying several rooms worth of leather products. The store owners took our whole group to the top of this where we were able to look down upon a huge tannery and see the whole process on how it was made. As a student in the business school, it is constantly stressed to find the next biggest thing and keep innovation going, so it was a polar opposite outlook on life to see people producing the same things and living the same way they would have many years ago. It made me think about how to appreciate the things I already have instead of having to constantly look for what is next and appreciate the sustaining of a culture.
This trip was truly one I will never forget, and I will cherish the memories forever.