Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 2010 promoting local culture and sustainable initiatives through education and the integration of scientific ingenuity in Southwest Morocco. We operate North Africa's largest fog harvesting project, providing villages with access to potable water. Our Water School and Girls' E-Learning Programs build capacity in the Anti-Atlas Mountains. Through our Ethnographic Field School, researchers and students engage with local communities in Agadir, Sidi Ifni, and the rural Aït Baamrane region for meaningful cross-cultural exchange.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Learning Across Continents: Promoting American Values

Written by Fulbright ETA  & DSH Intern:
Anna Cizek

Anna at the Arab League Conference in Rabat 
As a new member of Dar Si Hmad’s team, I see that an introduction is in hand. My name is Anna Cizek, and I am from Chicago, Illinois. Although, I have spent the majority of the past five years traveling abroad or studying in Macon, Georgia. In 2017, I came to Morocco for the first time. Despite the fact that there was more snow in Ifrane than I had ever seen in Chicago, I yearned for the opportunity to come back once my five-month study abroad had finished.
I am in Morocco today, because those ambitions came to light, and in the spring of 2018, I was awarded a Fulbright Grant. Having lived in Morocco for a total of eight months thus far, I feel confident in my assessment that it is truly an amazing country. The hospitality I have experienced, although commonplace amongst Middle Eastern and North African countries, is truly something unique in the world. I cannot express how grateful I am to be in a country with kind and welcoming people. I have always found it imperative to be grateful for opportunities.
Anna while she was visiting Marrakech
Considering that the hard-earned money of American taxpayers and donors has funded my Grant in Morocco, I feel obliged to take my responsibility seriously as a representative of the United States. As a result, I will give further insight into one initiative I have led to put those finances to good use while simultaneously promoting American values.
Recently, I had the ability to take one of my biggest opportunities full circle. Throughout University, I was fortunate to have professors invest their time and energy into my professional development through extra-curricular activities. One of these clubs was Model Arab League. As a youth leadership development program, Model Arab League aims to equip students to be successful speakers, debaters, and writers while collaborating in an international context.
During my first conference in 2016, I represented the policies and perspectives of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I went on to represent other Arab countries, organize a conference through the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and finally take three of my Moroccan students to their first conference.
Anna with our Risers in Rabat Model Arab League
As I am currently on a flight to Jordan, I recognize the doors that can open with both hard work and attuned mentorship. I am very grateful to have been given instruction on both of these fronts over the years. American culture encourages and rewards those who work hard in pursuit of their goals. However, the American Dream is not a universal concept, so in many countries, hope and ambition fall short. Unfortunately, this resonates with my students, as few of them optimistically perceive their futures to be full of possibilities.
The Rabat Model Arab League opened my eyes to the challenges facing young Moroccan students. Originally, I thought my attendance as a faculty advisor would entail instructing and encouraging my students. However, it is possible that I learned even more than the three of them that weekend. During the four-day conference, I was able to compare and contrast my Moroccan students with American students the same age and adapt my teaching accordingly.
My students were three of six Moroccans at the conference of nearly fifty people. The fact that the conference was held in Rabat sheds light upon that stark contrast. When my students (aka RISE Program Alumni) told me that teachers rarely spend time with them outside of class, I could not help but think of the numerous teachers who have invited me into their homes, and invested time in me over the years. Taking my students to their first Model Arab League conference was the least I could do to share the opportunities I have been fortunate to receive.
Anna and our RISE Alumni