For urban youth in Agadir, international educational opportunities are fairly limited. Studying abroad is an attractive idea, but financial, linguistic, and logistical (including the challenge of acquiring visas and passports) barriers are high. Sponsored exchange programs are important avenues that can help support driven students in their dream of enhancing their educational experiences and sharing their perspectives with young people in other parts of the world.
Yesterday, Dar Si Hmad held an application support workshop open to everyone interested in international exchange programs. The workshop boosted Agadir youths’ awareness of these opportunities and gave them individualized help in compiling CVs and writing personal statements.
Dar Si Hmad’s Office Manager Maourane Smaili has been granted a Fulbright Scholarship for study in the United States next year. Marouane kicked off the workshop with an overview of some available opportunities and some reflections on his own experience applying for the Fulbright. Marina's talk focused on the importance of civic engagement, leadership, and community service, three things that our MEPI-funded RISE Program is focusing on in its efforts to enhance the capacity of Agadir youth.
We were lucky to have with us two alumni of international exchange programs. Participants from the MEPI Student Leaders Program and the Swedish Institute’s Young Leaders Visitors Programme shared stories about their time in America and Sweden and tips about the interview process.
All three of our exchange program-accepted speakers were men - demonstrating that we have some work to do in better equipping young women to take on these travel and study opportunities! Ensuring that just as many women participate in these programs as men is vital to building better understandings of Moroccan culture and diversity for communities abroad as well as enhancing gender parity around the globe.
Becca Farnum is a visiting researcher from King’s College London. She took time out from collecting data for her PhD to talk with the students about what goes into a good personal statement. Becca encouraged the students to think about what sets them apart from their peers. Personal statements should be exactly that - personal! Dar Si Hmad staff members' top tips focused on using stories to creatively highlight your skills and passions in a personal statement.
Dar Si Hmad highlighted the following programs that students like our RISE Participants are or will soon be eligible for and should consider applying to:
- The MEPI Student Leaders Program, a six-week exchange program to America for 120 undergraduate students from the Middle East and North Africa that includes academic coursework, visits to multiple states in America, and community service;
- The Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Social Entrepreneurship, a five-week academic program in America hosted in Connecticut;
- The Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership, a five-week program focusing on the history and participation of women in public life in the United States, held in Kansas;
- The Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGRAD), an opportunity for undergraduate students to study in the US for one academic semester to experience the American educational system;
- The Fulbright Foreign Student Program, an award for postgraduate (master’s) study in the United States run by the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange;
- The Swedish Institute’s Young Leaders Visitors Programme (YLVP), an intercultural leadership program focusing on dialog and knowledge sharing among young leaders from the Middle East, North Africa and Sweden that takes place in both Sweden and the Middle East during two intense modules; and
- The Swedish Institute Study Scholarships, funding opportunities for year-long master’s programs in Sweden.
After the presentation, participants split into small groups to brainstorm and/or edit their personal statements. The personal statement is one of the most important parts of an application for exchange programs and offers a great chance for students to reflect on the work they have done and why it matters to them.
|Dar Si Hmad staff Jade Lansing and Marouane Smaili|
sit down with Agadir youth to offer focused support on their
personal statements, a vital part of exchange program applications
Education builds peace. Cross-cultural exchange builds peace. Learning together and engaging with each other are vital to building a more peaceful and just world. Good luck to all of those applying for these programs – Dar Si Hmad is proud to be able to offer support to those from the Agadir region!
Dar Si Hmad’s 2015 #16Days Campaign to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.