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Site visitors experience what makes SIT special
December 8th, 2023 | Africa, SIT Study Abroad
By Rebecca McMunn
In early October, SIT invited a group of colleagues from partner organizations to join us in Morrocco to experience two of our semester programs: Human Rights, Social Justice, and Cultural Transformation and Migration and Transnational Identity. The group represented study abroad offices at colleges and universities across the U.S. who were interested in learning more about the foundations of an SIT program. This site visit was specifically designed for new international education professionals to give them a better understanding of SIT’s history and values and how we provide students with unique experiential learning through rigorous and immersive academics.
Site visit participants learned first-hand what makes an SIT experience special.
Critical Global Issues and Academic Excellence
SIT programs are developed to prepare the next generation of leaders to confront global challenges with expertise and intercultural understanding. Within this framework, the two programs in Morocco explore Identity & Human Resilience and Peace & Justice. Students examine these issues through coursework and site visits with local organizations, engaging multiple identities, perspectives, and cultures. The site visitors had the opportunity to visit several of these local NGOs to see how students utilize this network for the Independent Study Project or Internship portion of the program.
At SIT, hands-on learning is combined with active reflection to facilitate a deeper understanding of critical global issues and allow students to experience significant transformation by challenging their old paradigms, assumptions, and beliefs.
Throughout the Research Methods and Ethics course, classroom instruction is complemented with time spent in the field learning from experts and interacting with locals. A highlight of the week was joining a class during a meeting of SIT students and a Moroccan university class. The students discussed the hopes and dreams of their peers and how the different cultures share similar challenges. Students helped each other confront assumptions and stereotypes while emphasizing the similarities of each group’s lived experiences. These conversations allowed students to learn first-hand how to engage more effectively in the local context.
Immersive programming is an important way to enrich the student experience. By learning to speak the local language, discover new food, and understand different customs, students gain insights from a range of perspectives. In Morocco, speaking Arabic, eating couscous on Fridays with host families, and experiencing a hammam allow students to engage with their new culture in new and memorable ways. During the site visit, an overnight excursion brought the group to Tangier, an international city located within sight of the Spanish coast. Participants took part in a Gnawa music workshop, learning the rich history of this religious ceremony and taking part in traditional music and dancing.
Not only do homestays provide the opportunity to improve language skills and deepen cultural understanding, they provide additional context and perspectives on the issues students are studying. Beyond this, homestays allow students to build deeper connections with the local community, sharing in the rhythms of daily life in a way that most visitors do not. Two homestay families opened their homes to the group for a shared meal that highlighted the hospitality of the Moroccan people and displayed the unique flavors of local tradition and cuisine.
Ways to Visit
Visiting an SIT program is a great way to learn more about these unique elements of an SIT experience and gain a better understanding of what students experience during their programs abroad. Individual site visits are another great way to experience SIT, and our team can work with you to craft one-day visits that are focused on your specific needs. More information can be found on the website. We encourage you to plan a visit now to one of our sites in Africa or other countries by submitting your request.
Rebecca McMunn is SIT University Relations Manager for Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington.