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Moroccan Migration: A Global Perspective

Students from Dr. David Leblang’s Global Migration Class, meet with Anna Hardy, (second from right) from the International Organization for Migration, From left to right: Songtham Tungkitkancharoen, University of California-San Diego, Dr. David Leblang, Meridith Armstrong, Cal Poly, Xinyi Zhao, Zhejiang University City College, Britney Del Rosario, Trinity Washington University, Sarah Grey, Sweet Briar College, Kelly Corfield, CSU Chico, Majida Barguch, Interim Director of the¬†University of Virginia¬†Center for International Studies, Director Of the¬†University of Virginia¬†Program in Morocco.

Students participating in David Leblang’s Global Migration course were recently afforded a unique hands-on educational opportunity to travel to Morocco’s capital city of Rabat, where they met with government officials to discuss the consequences of immigration and migration.

Field labs are a required application of all courses offered on The Semester at Sea Program, allowing students a chance to experience the historical perspectives and global comparisons of cultures outside of the traditional classroom setting.

Dr. Leblang, a professor of politics at the University of Virginia, Chair of the Department of Politics, recognizes the importance of field labs and why they are an integral part of the Semester at Sea curriculum.

“During class we talk a lot about what happens theoretically, but during this field lab, students got a chance to experience the “practice of,” said Professor Leblang, “What we did today really focused on what happens when migrants go abroad and if they are still a resource for their homeland, and how homelands engage in different kinds of strategies in order to harness the potential of their expatriate living abroad.”

While visiting Rabat, students met with Abdesselan El Ftouh, Director of the Economic Ministry of the Hassan II, a foundation dedicated to Moroccans living abroad, where they discussed issues of Moroccan Migration and Immigration.

Majida Barguch, Interim Director of the University of Virginia Center for International Studies and Director Of the University of Virginia Program in Morocco and Abdesselan El Ftouh, Director of the Economic Ministry of the Hassan II discuss issues of Global Migration.

After enjoying a a traditional Moroccan meal consisting of Moroccan salads, Chicken Tagine with preserved lemon and olives and mint tea, students met with Anna Hardy, of The International Organization for Migration, an organization committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society.  During this roundtable, students were given a history and overview of Moroccan migration and information about the Moroccan government’s strategies to engage the diaspora.

Leblang, a specialist in political economy,¬†recognizes the Moroccan government’s commitment to the the issue of global migration and how seriously they take this issue.¬† ‚ÄúThe fact that the Moroccan government has elevated the status of their expatriate community to a government ministry tells you how important that population to the country as a whole.‚Äù

According to Leblang: “Morocco has been very ambitious and aggressive in trying to maintain contact with their expatriate communities and they have a foundation for Moroccans living abroad.  We visited them this morning to learn about the different ways that the government is trying to keep in contact with the expatriate community.”

Brittany Delasario, a senior from Trinity Washington University, majoring in International Affairs, found the field lab experience to be rewarding on a personal level too.  “What I really liked about this field lab and the class in general is the focus on migration patterns.  Here in Morocco we were able to visit the International Organization for Global Migration and I felt like this was a very beneficial trip for me because my parents are migrants from the Dominican Republic.  For me to return to the classroom with a better understanding of the pros and cons of migration made me want to continue to work on issues of global migration.”

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