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ASU honors college offers study abroad opportunities for summer 2024

Program registration open until March 1


Photo showing a sunset over the ocean.

Sun sets over the Strait of Gibraltar from the beach at Cap Spartel near Tangier. Photo by Jessica Sosa

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January 29, 2024

When Alex Young, an Honors Faculty Fellow in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, leads his students on a summer study abroad trip to Morocco this year, it’ll be like going home.

From 2007 to 2009, Young lived in Morocco and taught at the American School of Tangier, which serves students in pre-K through 12th grade. He made lifelong connections and friendships while becoming immersed in Moroccan history, literature and culture.

It was Young’s first-ever teaching experience. Prior to moving to Tangier to teach, Young worked at a New York City publishing house.

“The time I spent in Morocco was remarkable. The people there were so welcoming and supportive. Tangier has remained a special part of my life,” Young said.

“It’s really exciting for me because I had such a fulfilling teaching experience in Tangier and now, after 15 years, when I share it with my current students, it is a full-circle moment for me,” he added.

Young, along with ASU Honors Faculty Fellow Mathew Sandoval, will lead an honors study abroad program titled “Barrett in Morocco and Spain — The Crossroads of Civilization” from June 3–24.

Alex Young in his American School of Tangier classroom. Photo courtesy of Alex Young.
Alex Young in his American School of Tangier classroom. Photo courtesy Alex Young

Students will earn six credits for two courses: Honors 380 — Destination Tangier: American Literature’s Encounter with Morocco, led by Young; and Honors 394 — The Art of Transformation: Rites of Passage in Theory and Practice, led by Sandoval. The program will immerse students in the cultures of these two nations separated by the Strait of Gibraltar, an ancient site of intercultural exchange.

The program will begin in Morocco, where the long history of literary exchange between Morocco and the United States will be among the many topics students will learn about.

Since the early 1900s, American writers such as Anita Reynolds, Paul Bowles and William Burroughs have worked and lived in Morocco, and the course will cover these authors alongside the writing of their Moroccan contemporaries.  

The itinerary includes Marrakech, the dunes of Erg Chebbi, Casablanca, Fez and Tangier. The group also will travel to Seville, Granada and Malaga, Spain, where Sandoval’s class will explore how individuals engage in rites and performances of personal, spiritual and social transformation.

Young said one of the most exciting features of the trip will be an overnight campout in the Saharan Desert outside Erg Chebbi.

Adnane Benajiba, who was a student in Young’s English class at the American School of Tangier, where he graduated in 2009, will be the group’s guide in Morocco.

Benajiba said the Moroccan leg of the trip will focus on Moroccan culture, history, geography and government, and include a walking tour through the French colonial streets with world-famous art deco architecture in Casablanca and crossing the High Atlas Mountains to the Sahara.

Berber and Touareg culture, as well as Morocco’s economic development and governance structure, are among the topics he will cover.

Benajiba said he is “motivated, esteemed and honored” to guide his former high school teacher’s university study abroad program in Morocco.

“This is what keeps a guide's passion alive. To share and represent is what a guide should do. Also, to learn. I feel like this is a unique opportunity. It is not every day that we get to participate in such programs,” he said.

Jessica Sosa, a senior in Barrett, The Honors College majoring in social work, participated in the Morocco and Spain study abroad program in the summer of 2022. She received the Barrett Travel Scholarship, which covered most of the program cost.

“During this study abroad, I found that the world is so diverse. Cultures are beautiful, and experiencing them in real life is a completely different ball park. It's something you'll never forget,” she said.

“This experience made me grow personally, especially as a first-generation student,” said Sosa, adding that she gained confidence and an interest in more international travel.

The Barrett in Morocco and Spain summer study abroad program is open to Barrett, The Honors College students who have completed HON 171 or HON 370 with a grade of C or better, and who have a 3.0 GPA.

March 1 is the deadline to apply for the program. Learn more about travel scholarships and grants.

Professors Sandoval and Young will be holding an information session for interested students on Zoom and in person at the Barrett Downtown Suite in the Mercado B building at 2 p.m., Friday, Feb. 2. 

In addition to the Morocco and Spain program, Barrett Honors College is offering three other summer study abroad opportunities this year, including Barrett in Germany and Switzerland: Finding Frankenstein, the Monster, and Ourselves; Barrett in the South of France: History, Literature, Nationality; and Barrett in Tokyo: Life and Culture in Modern Japan. Learn more about the 2024 Barrett Summer Study Abroad opportunities.

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