Begin your journey in Casablanca.
Dive deep into the belief system surrounding Islamic faith in Morocco. By taking a look at global issues as they are lived on-the-ground, students will further develop skills sets like critical analysis, creative problem solving, collaboration, and empathy––all essential capabilities for future leaders innovators, social entrepreneurs, and peacemakers.
Islam is often misunderstood in media and politics, leading to polarization and fear surrounding this belief system. Join us in Morocco to explore the roots of stereotypes in an effort to promote peace and build empathy by engaging with Muslims in Morocco. Engage in high level conversations, ready to stand against hate and carry your newly recognized change making skills into your community. This is a program for change makers with curious spirits who believe we can change the world through positive engagement and understanding cultural and religious differences.
After meeting and greeting your flight leader and the other students traveling to Morocco, you’re off to Casablanca! Most students are able to sneak in a nap and relax with their new friends during the flight. Get some rest so you are ready to dive right in!
Get all excited for you are about to have a life changing experience. As you arrive in Casablanca, you will meet your Program Leaders and chat as a group about what’s in store for your time in Morocco. After some tone-setting and team building, you’re out the door to tour Hassan II Mosque, and learn about its incredible Islamic architecture. This may be the first time in a mosque for some members of your group and what an impactful place to start! This beautiful seaside mosque is the largest in Africa and its minaret is the tallest in the world.
Today you’ll drive to one of Morocco’s most famous destinations, Marrakesh, also known as the ‘red city.’ Your experience in this wonderful city is not like any ordinary visitor’s experience. We believe that there is no better way to explore Moroccan culture, learn about Islam, and break stereotypes and prejudices barriers than living with a Moroccan host family. Therefore, you’ll be introduced to your Moroccan homestay that we selected for you, and you’ll get a chance to live the culture, and be exposed to the authentic Moroccan life style. You’ll enjoy delicious, home cooked Moroccan food, maybe even learn the exact recipe of each dish from your host mom. You’ll explore how ordinary Moroccans live their daily life, learn about many cultural practices through simple observation and have a warm, loving environment for asking important questions you may not feel comfortable asking anyone else. Learn basic Moroccan colloquial Arabic as you get necessary words and phrases translated to you by your host family. This will be a well-rounded, whole-hearted, and culturally immersive Moroccan experience, as you will find a home away from home, and gain siblings, aunts, or uncles. Your host familly may become one of the biggest reasons for you to come visit Morocco again and again.
It is time you get together again with the other students in the program, and reflect on your experiences with the Moroccan host family. You’ll be spending the next three night in a riad at the heart of the old medina of Marrakesh. You’ll spend your mornings in workshops with local experts on Islam learning about their work and their lives. You’ll spend time engaging with university professors, scholars of the Quran, and leaders in the religious community called imams. Discuss gender roles and Islam with a female preacher, known as a mursheda. She’ll share her experience being a female Muslim spiritual leader and what led her to the position. Examine the role of the media in furthering stereotypes and fostering hatred.
Each afternoon will be dedicated to interviews and open discussions with similarly aged local students on the topic that was explored in the morning, allowing you to get a more nuanced perspective from your Moroccan peers.
Throughout these days, you’ll also have time to explore the city. You’ll wander the UNESCO-acclaimed thousand-year-old market where you can watch snake charmers entrance their cobras and vendors hawk their wares. You’ll see everything from whale vertebrae and acrobats to ostrich eggs and traditional henna! The mosque will sound a call to prayer as smoke from kabob stands billows peacefully over the frenzy below. You’ll see the famous souqs, take in the aromas of the famous Moroccan spice shops, and get to know this wondrous city.
Attend the last talk in Marrakech before you transfer to a nearby Amazigh village. We intentionally want you to be exposed to many different aspects of Moroccan and Muslim culture to give you a more multifaceted picture. Today you head to Sbiti village in the Ourikta valley. Upon arrival, settle into your guesthouse and tour the village. The role of religion and rural life in general look very different than in the city. You’ll compare and contrast what you’ve seen in the urban areas with this small Berber village. It won’t be hard to notice that all women wear headscarves in the village whereas only some do in the city. This is just one of the more observable differences you might note. You’ll have time to get into the nuances with your group during evening discussions. This will also be a great opportunity for you gain so much knowledge about the Amazigh culture, music, and rural life in Morocco! You will be fascinated by the simple lifestyle the locals enjoy, and you will experience their kindness and hospitality.
Today, you’ll drive to the capital of the kingdom, Rabat. You’ll visit the Hassan tower, a minaret once expected to be the tallest in the world. Construction halted in 1199 and the mosque was never completed. The sandstone tower rises to half its intended height, but it is still a very impressive sight. The Hassan tower stands in contrast to the white and green building right across the esplanade, Mausoleum of Mohammed V. Serving as the tomb for the Moroccan king and his two sons, the mausoleum is a national treasure honoring the Moroccan royal family. You’ll end your day with dinner on a boat on the Abi Raqraq river admiring the coastal capital city. You’ll visit many other fascinating places and historical monuments such as the royal palace, Chellah, the ruins of an ancient Roman colony, and a medieval fortified Muslim cemetery, he magnificent 10 centuries old Kasbah les Oudais, the Andalusian Gardens, and the Moroccan Museum of Money.
During your stay in Rabat, you will also have a chance to meet with some prominent scholars and professors to have a deep insight about Islam in Morocco, and the Amazigh-Arab culture. You’ll learn about the evolution of the Islamic faith and the history of the dynasties that have occupied this storied city. Later on, you’ll sit down with your group to discuss what you’ve seen so far, what’s stuck out to you most. You’ll also learn about understand the psychology of bias and some concrete tools you can use in your change making work to confront stereotypes and overcome bias.
Come full circle as you drive back to your starting point, Casablanca. This program was designed to give you and in-depth and up-close look at what we believe is one of the most challenging and critical issues of our time: how to live in peace in a multicultural society. Today, you will celebrate all that you have learned and share the takeaways from your experience. You’ll talk about how your ideas on the intersection of religious ideology and peaceful society across the globe have changed based on your local experiences in Morocco. You’ll recap the skills and habits of mind you have gained on this program and discuss how you are best positioned to be a peacemaker and change maker in your own community. The program ends with “Rustic Ties” which is the culmination of memories from the program and a discussion about your plan of action for what comes next.
We know that you will have created deep bonds with the other change makers on your program and that you will go on to do great things. Because you have amazing potential and we want to invest in your success, we will help you tap into Rustic’s network and resources. Head home and start being change makers for a more peaceful world.
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.
The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.
“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.
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Program Leaders have intimate local knowledge and an academic or professional background on Islamic relations and culture.
Students will have access to clean, safe drinking water (pronounced lma) on this trip at all times. Water in faucets can be used to brush your teeth but is not for drinking. Summertime in Morocco is very hot (you’re headed to the desert after all)! Please remember to pack a reusable water bottle so you can constantly stay hydrated throughout the program.
Delicious traditional Moroccan food of course! Morocco is home to many delectable dishes many of them heavily influenced by French colonialism. Having been a major stop along the African spice route, Moroccan cuisine is rich and flavorful. The tagine, a Moroccan favorite is a stew cooked within a conical clay pot where couscous, vegetables, spices and chicken or beef are usually piled high to be shared around the table. Dig in and fork what strikes your fancy onto your plate or eat like a real Moroccan and scoop up each bite with some crisp and crunchy bread. Variations of the tagine are common as well as fish fillet and assorted kinds of kebabs. Hearty lentil soups are also a good starter to any meal. Be sure to sample some pastilla while you are traveling, this traditional dish is a crispy crepe stuffed with chicken and spices while the top is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet! Almost all Moroccan meals are served with bread, as it is a big staple in Moroccan daily life. After you are good and stuffed be sure to wash down your Moroccan feast with a steaming cup of sweet Moroccan mint tea.
Morocco is incredibly geographically diverse and therefore experiences several different climates depending on which region you are visiting. It is important to keep all of these in mind while you are preparing for your trip. Morocco’s Atlantic coastal cities such as Casablanca and Rabat are generally cooler and milder than in the interior. Expect ocean breezes and lower temperatures than what you would find traveling east. The interior of Morocco such as in Marrakech is hot and sunny during the summer with sporadic periods of rainfall. Up in the Atlas Mountains where you will be doing your community service expect it to be hot and sunny during the day and cooler at night. The north of the country around Chefchaouen and the Rif Mountains has a Mediterranean climate and can be hot and more humid during summer. Besides packing appropriate clothing don’t forget a water bottle and sunscreen!
It is very important that we respect the cultural norms and local customs while traveling throughout Morocco. With a majority of the population practicing Islam, Morocco is a conservative Muslim country and the influence of religion is felt in the ways people act, dress, and present themselves. Women should be very mindful of their clothing while visiting Morocco. It is important to wear modest clothing that does not show or reveal too much skin. This means avoiding shorts and tank tops and tight clothing such as yoga pants or leggings. Wearing loose fitting clothes will keep you cooler during hot days and the added coverage will protect your skin from that powerful Moroccan sun! When visiting religious sites such as the Hassan II mosque it is required that women cover their heads before entering the mosque so remember to pack a scarf or saraong. While swimming or visiting the beach we ask that you please pack a one-piece bathing suit. Remember, Morocco isn’t all desert and heat, evenings on the Atlantic coast or up in the Atlas Mountains can get pretty chilly and breezy even during the summer months. Be sure to pack a sweatshirt or light jacket that you can throw on just incase!
In the cities such as Casablanca and Marrakech many people speak English to varying degrees. Moroccans speak a local dialect of Arabic called Darija. In many of the Atlas Mountain communities the local dialect is Berber where the majority of the people make up this indigenous minority. If you know some French this will also go a long way in Morocco. Once a colony of France the majority of Moroccans can speak French as it is still taught within Moroccan schools. We encourage you to practice or pick up as much Arabic as you can during your trip. It is fun to practice and your local Moroccan leader can help you translate and teach you words along the way. Using Arabic in the markets and souks of Morocco will go a long way towards impressing vendors and ensure you get the best price while bargaining.
The Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan is a special time of year when Moroccans commemorate the first revelation of the Koran to Muhammad. The annual observance is very important as it is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims observe the month long holiday by taking on an extra sense of self-accountability and charity. From sun up to sun down Moroccans will fast and abstain from eating and drinking. As a result, daytime during the holiday takes on a slower pace. You will frequently see Moroccans napping and dozing in the heat and many shops and stores have shorter hours. At night when the sun goes down Muslims break their fast and things come alive as people are often eating, shopping, and celebrating with their friends and family well into the night. Your program will run as usual during this time and while Moroccans do not expect foreigners or visitors to fast it is important to be mindful and respect those that are fasting. Taking our food and drink indoors or snacks and ice cream during van rides instead of out in public view is a way to honor this. Ramadan is a great opportunity for students to gain additional insight and perspective on Islam as well as enjoy the spiritual energy and atmosphere this holiday has to offer.
When you join us on this incredible journey we want you to have an as immersive experience as possible and soak it all in. To do that you are encouraged to take a break from technology and engage with the life on the ground in Morocco. Leave the lands of social media behind and focus on being present in the moment—don’t worry, it will still be there when you return—we promise!
You will have access to internet in Casablanca and Marrakech but throughout the rest of the trip, internet access will be sporadic.
What should families at home do in case of emergency? You will be given the phone number to our 24/7 emergency line, which is kept open for true emergencies only. One of our awesome staff members in the U.S. will be in charge of this line, and they will pass any necessary information to us on the ground in Morocco.
International SOS provides the most up to date recommendations regarding Morocco. Since we do not know your child’s medical history, we recommend you reference International SOS website at: https://rusticpathways.com/international-sos/ or the CDC website at: http://www.cdc.gov for more information. We also suggest consulting with your local travel doctor prior to your travels for further information.
There will be some hiking on this trip that could be slightly strenuous depending on the weather conditions during the hike.
This generation of students is up against a lot. They will be tested. They are facing issues that are gaining momentum day after day and the consequences will be significant.
This year, we have created Critical Issues programs that center on a few of the most pressing issues you’re facing in the locations where we operate. They’re designed to help you recognize the importance of these issues to our global community. By connecting with people at the heart of these issues in their local communities, we think you will be more willing and better able to make change.
Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:
Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing lightweight pants/capris, t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear. Shorts and leggings are not acceptable in Morocco.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.
A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.
A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal.
(Travel size bottles in Ziploc bags)
Begin your journey in Casablanca.
Wander through the medina and souqs of Marrakech.
Take in rural life in Sbiti Village.
Pass through the political capital of the kingdom
See a church facing a mosque.
Explore the markets and climb to a local mosque in the blue city.
Hike through a canyon to a stunning waterfall
Visit the oldest continuously functioning university in this historical intellectual epicenter.