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VSU Honors Program students take service learning to Morocco

Published date: May 20, 2015

VSU Morocco

Students in Virginia State University’s Honors Program recently visited Morocco and served in the Saharan villages of Merzhoug and Imlil, in the region of Skoura, where they studied human rights issues. The VSU students taught fine motor skill development strategies to young children and their teachers to improve long-term cognitive development and literacy skills. 

Under the direction of Anne-Marie Turnage, VSU’s director of service-learning and civic engagement and lecturer in geography, five VSU students had daily interaction with local youth and also met with community leaders and members of local women’s associations.
“Interacting with the residents of the villages and serving in their communities built rapport and helped dispel some stereotypes of Americans” said Arrisa Hanson, one of the students in the course and VSU’s 2015 Valedictorian. “This was possible because of our approach and willingness as a culture to address challenges both locally and internationally.” 

Dr. Aicha Lemtouni of the Institute of Leadership and Communication Studies (ILCS) of Rabat also delivered lectures to the students on Moroccan development. Students from the ILCS worked alongside VSU students as interpreters.  In partnership with local leaders, the students developed a strategy for future VSU support to the region through service-learning opportunities. In addition to their time in Skoura, the students visited the cities of Casablanca and Marrakech.

VSU Honors Program director Dr. Daniel Roberts noted “I am so pleased to see students from so many different disciplines traveling together and sharing such an impactful experience.  I hope even more students engage in the opportunity next year.”

PHOTO CAPTION: VSU students (left to right) Arrisa Hanson (May 2015 graduate; psychology; Richmond, VA); Jasmine Blocker (sophomore, biology, Columbia, SC); and Yainkain Kallon (junior; IDST; Richmond, VA) and children from the village of Merzhoug, Morocco in front of the local community center. NOT PICTURED: Jason Daniels (freshman, computer science, Baltimore); Brandon Lancaster (sophomore, computer engineering, Norfolk)

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