Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa
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Discover Tunisia’s ancient history, contemporary challenges, and cultural and geographic diversity.
The SIT Tunisia program includes two weeklong educational excursions throughout the country as well as short field trips within Tunis and the Cap Bon region. Trips around Tunis include visiting Carthage; the Bardo archeological museum; Tunis’s historic medina; Nabeul, Tunisia’s ceramics capital; and Hammamet, a popular holiday resort.
- Tunisia’s extraordinary historic riches
- The geographic and human diversity of Tunisia’s different regions and the way the country’s tourism industry has exploited this diversity
- The impact of mass tourism on Sahara and oases lifestyles
- Economic inequalities between coastal regions and hinterland
Southern Excursion: Kairawan and the Sahara
This seven-day excursion acquaints students with the country’s heartland and allows them to experience the juxtaposition of traditional culture and the modern influences of globalization.
In Kairawan, the first Muslim settlement built after the conquering of North Africa in the 7th century, Islamic and Arab presence is still strong. A highlight of the excursion is visiting the “Libyan” market in the town of El Jem; the market is a storehouse of products and commodities from all over the world, which serves as a testimony to the mercantile dimension of globalization. El Jem boasts the third largest Roman amphitheater in the world.
On the island of Djerba, students visit Turkish and Spanish ribats (seafront forts), Africa’s oldest synagogue, and a Talmudic school in the hara kebira (Jewish quarter). Students discuss with the local rabbi and residents challenges related to maintaining their faith in an overwhelmingly Muslim region.
En route from Djerba, students visit troglodyte dwellings and traditional Berber mountain villages, used as the set for the planet Tatooine in the Star Wars movies. In Douz, an oasis in the Sahara dunes, students spend time at a cybercafé to observe how the Internet is affecting the lives of ordinary Tunisians, particularly youth.
Northern excursion: Bizerta and Tabarka
The program’s five-day excursion through the mountainous regions and coastal cities of northern Tunisia takes students from Roman Dougga and the plains of the Mejerda Valley, once known as Rome’s breadbasket, to the mountain community of Sejnane, where students observe traditional red clay potters at their kilns, and Tabarka, a coral fishing town transformed into a stylish holiday resort for the wealthy.
In Bizerta, with its lingering French colonial atmosphere, students have the opportunity to observe a diversified economy based on tourism, manufacturing, wine production, and military bases. They will observe the effect of the global market on local customs.
Students will also explore the fascinating ecosystem of Ichkeul National Park where flora and fauna alternate every six months between freshwater and marine conditions. The excursion culminates with a visit to the archaeological site of the ancient Roman city of Utica, set today within an international free trade zone.
Accommodations during the excursion may include hotels, guesthouses, and an environmental center.
Duration: 15 weeks
Program Base: Sidi Bou Said, on the outskirts of Tunis
Language Study: Arabic, French
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