America's Unofficial Ambassadors

We work at the grassroots level throughout the Muslim World to counter violent extremism before it takes hold, to promote tolerance and understanding, and to foster better relations with the United States.

An Understanding Underway

The following post is from Communications and Social Media Intern and contributing blogger Mary Kazarian. Mary is an undergraduate at George Mason University studying the Middle East and International Relations and hopes to one day move to her native land of Lebanon.

             The Summer Service partnerships have begun to take shape as Driss Ouaouicha, the President of Al-Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco signed the Memorandum of Understanding with AUA in December of 2012. The partnership will launch a unique service internship program for the summer of 2013 that will place in American students and professionals with schools and grassroots organizations in the Middle Atlas region for a 6-week term. Interns will serve as unofficial ambassadors, supporting local development initiatives while working to dispel some of the stereotypes that exist between America and the Muslim World.

          As citizen diplomats in Morocco, these unofficial ambassadors will have a substantive impact through their service while striving to build mutual understanding. At Al-Akhawayn, they will study Moroccan Arabic while taking part in a range of activities and local home-stays designed to broaden their exposure to Morocco and its different cultures. Al-Akhawayn’s Director of the Office of International Programs, Amy Fishburn, is excited about the new partnership with AUA, “Up until now, the connections we have established within our local community have for the most part been for the benefit of our own students. Now we are able to share and extend the strong ties that we have developed to create an in depth opportunity for American students. AUA participants will be encouraged to understand, engage and reflect upon the rich opportunities as well as challenges that they will encounter within Moroccan culture and society.”

            The Azrou Center for Community Development, one of the sites where AUA volunteers will serve,  is a social service initiative affiliated with Al-Akhawayn University that operates a host of education and job-training courses for more than 100 students and young people from primary school to the post-high school level. The center’s programs include computer literacy, business and management training, hairdressing and cosmetology courses, weaving and trade skills training, basic literacy tutoring and other education courses designed to help students who have left school continue their studies. Below is a picture of students at the center.

           For more information on different volunteer sites and internship placements in Morocco this summer, visit the Morocco placement page and Summer Service Program page!


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