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Class of 2024 Returns Home From Morocco Expedition

Class of 2024 Returns Home From Morocco Expedition Image

Cedar Crest College’s Class of 2024 returned home from the fifth annual Carmen Twillie Ambar Sophomore Expedition on May 24. Eighty-eight students, faculty and staff traveled together to Marrakech, Morocco, for a week of service, learning and culture.

The Sophomore Expedition program is a short-term study abroad opportunity for all Cedar Crest sophomores funded almost entirely by the College. The Expedition is a transformational experience with a focus on exploration and service-learning.

Marrakech was chosen as an Expedition location for its rich history and culture, as it has long been a region of the world influenced by both the Middle East and Europe. The experience pushed students out of their comfort zones as they explored a foreign destination with an unfamiliar language, customs, terrain and food — and braved some unusually warm weather, too!

The sophomores visited important cultural sites in Marrakech, such as the Koutoubia Mosque, Bahia Palace, Badia Palace, the souks of the old city or Medina, the Museum of Marrakech and the Women’s Museum, among others.

On a service trip to the Atlas Mountains to visit a Berber Village, the Cedar Crest students, faculty and staff saw people living the way they had for thousands of years — although now with electricity, for about the last 10 years. The group visited a school for Berber children to help build a wall as part of the expansion of the facility and to do crafts with the children.

A visit to a boarding house for rural girls was another powerful experience for the Cedar Crest group. Education is free in Morocco, but high schools are only located in cities. So, in a country that is by far mostly rural and agricultural, children can only go on to high school if they have a way to live in a city. Cedar Crest students and trip leaders met with a woman who has dedicated her retirement years to raising money to build and run a boarding house for rural girls that allows them to attend high school and, hopefully, university. The story of the boarding house’s founding and mission to provide educational opportunities for girls deeply resonated with the group, as it echoes the College’s own founding in 1867 and our mission to this day.

Other highlights of the trip include:

  • A Moroccan cooking class, where teams of six cooked lamb, chicken and vegetable dishes in traditional tagines over charcoal
  • A trip to the port city of Essaouira, stopping along the way to visit a women’s cooperative that harvests argan oil for cosmetics
  • Riding dromedaries and quads (ATVs) in the desert
  • Academic lectures from an herbalist, a midwife and a traditional healer
  • A dance performance by Professor Sarah Carlson’s class, choreographed by a local dancer
  • Dance and music performances, a fire eater and belly dancers at the final banquet under tents in the palm grove
  • A story-telling performance under the stars in the desert as the group reclined on oriental rugs on the sand

“I returned from Morocco with a renewed appreciation of and dedication to this unique and amazing opportunity we provide to our students,” says President Elizabeth M. Meade, Ph.D. “For so many of them, this was their first time on an airplane or traveling out of the country. They were challenged in so many ways, and they found themselves rising to the occasion. Our Sophomore Expedition is the single most impactful experience I have ever witnessed in higher education, and I am so proud that it is offered exclusively as part of a Cedar Crest education.”

About the Carmen Twillie Sophomore Expedition

The Sophomore Expedition is a signature experience for Cedar Crest College’s traditional undergraduate students. Members of the sophomore class are offered this opportunity for only the cost of a passport. In its first few years, the program has proven to be a transformative experience that exposes students to new cultures, challenges their world views and encourages them to consider other study-abroad or international opportunities in the future.
Past classes have traveled to Brazil, Greece, England and Costa Rica. The Class of 2025 will head to Rome, Italy in spring 2023.

Visit the Office of Global Initiatives and International Programs to learn more about study abroad at Cedar Crest College.