SPAN Experience

One student’s perspective on the SPAN experience

The SPAN experience – preparation, trip, and paper – has not only been a wonderful, memorable experience but also a very enlightening one.  By tackling a project unlike any I had braved before, the research and 50-page paper enhanced my skills in writing, time management, organization, and countless other important educational areas.  Additionally, the cultural wisdom gained from the program was astounding.  Before flying off, SPAN prepared students for Morocco’s different culture through workshops and assigned readings.   These talks and books gave us our first glimpse of the culture we would soon find ourselves immersed in, introducing us to Moroccan hospitality, Islamic customs, typical culinary dishes and more. 

The above photo was taken by our host, Bouchra, at the entrance of Chefchaouen. She had graciously driven us to the renowned blue city and showed us around during our weekend stay. Pictured from left to right are Allison Krueger, Claire Schmitz and Hailey Stoos-Mohan.

Then, after months of preparation, we experienced all we had read about firsthand.  One particular cultural experience was a weekend I spent in Tangier with a Moroccan family.  While there, two fellow SPANners and I witnessed Moroccan hospitality as they graciously welcomed us into their home.  We were visiting during Ramadan, and therefore joined the family for iftar – the Islamic meal to break the daily fast during Ramadan.  We were allowed to share in the experience of this culturally meaningful meal as well as in a multitude of homemade Moroccan delicacies.  From delicious dishes to evening chats, the weekend was packed full of valuable cultural exposure. 

This picture is from Tangier by Les Grottes d’Hercule (Hercules’s Caves). From left to right, pictured is Allison Krueger, Sofy (our hosts’ neighbor), Bouchra (the host family’s mother), Hailey Stoos-Mohan, and Claire Schmitz.

This cultural exposure is particularly important to me given that I am a French and Hispanic Studies major.  In my studies, I need not only be able to communicate with other people by learning their language, but I must also understand their perspectives by learning about their culture.  The SPAN program helped hone this essential component of my majors.  The increased cultural awareness gained from the program will be extremely valuable as I continue my studies, and something for which I will always be incredibly thankful.

– Hailey Stoos-Mohan, Morocco 2017