I realized that I haven’t written very much about school yet, and since it’s starting to heat up with midterms and assignments I wanted to take a minute to talk about my courses!
EGE (École de Gouvernance et d’Économie de Rabat) is an extension of the famous Science Po schools in France and is devoted to teaching Politics, Governance, and Economics. Its three official languages of instruction are French, English, and Arabic. The school is smaller than my graduating high school class, with just over 250 students in both undergraduate and masters programs, and around 30 are international students.
They have some resident professors that teach the mandatory courses like Micro/Marco Economics and Intro to Poli Sci, but then they also have quite a few visiting professors who come to Rabat for their research or whatever reason, and teach an elective course at the school. All of my courses are elective courses other than Arabic, so I’m dealing mainly with the guest profs.
I start every week with an 8am Arabic course. It’s a review for me, because the school didn’t have an Arabic course at my level, so I’m basically repeating the course I did last year at uOttawa. It’s frustrating that I’m not advancing, and I’m not getting credit, but it’s a good review, and I’m registered to take the next level at uO next semester. Arabic is the only course that happens twice a week, for a grand total of four hours per week. It’s very clear that the prof doesn’t usually teach Arabic to total beginners like the class, so there’s a lot of confusion and I’m often translating or helping people to better understand some of the alphabet questions.
Tuesdays I have Gender & Natural Resources. This is such a cool course because drawing a link between gender and natural resources is something that is almost never done, but, as I’m learning, there are a lot of important links to be made. The basics of it is that most natural resources are controlled by men in developing countries, which means women have very little control on what happens within their community and household, and with no ownership, they have very few opportunities to be economically self-sufficient. In traditional development studies, researchers look at the household as a unit of measurement, but this implies that a household is intrinsically good and that the head of the household (i.e. the man) will distribute the natural resources or other benefits equally. In practice, women see very little of the aid that is distributed by household, and statistically men are less likely to invest the aid back into their families. It’s taught by a Dutch woman who has been doing research on the subject in the South of Morocco for a few years working towards her PHD.
Wednesdays now I just have Arabic in the mornings, but until recently I was taking an intensive course called Cross-Cultural Leadership & Global Business Issues. It was taught by a Fullbright Scholarship prof from Detroit who came over for three weeks specifically for the course. There were only six of us taking it, so it was basically a long, intensive discussion group twice a week. I’m not sure if I learned all that much, but it was an interesting chance to reflect on my experience with international business. Between Peer 1 and Champion, I’ve had some good chances to work with people from different countries in a business setting, and I had a lot to contribute to discussions.
Thursdays are my busiest days. In the morning I have Queer Maroc, which is a course taught in French by a man who’s been doing research in Morocco for a few years, and just released a book on the subject. This is by far the most interesting course I’m taking. We cover topics like, “What is Queer?” and whether or not it has a place in Moroccan culture, as well as gender roles and things like that. As much discrimination Queer people face in Canada, it’s a thousand times worse in Morocco. A big part of this course is field research, where we have to conduct interviews with local Moroccans. Mack and I are working together and are interviewing some Moroccan parents in our building about parental expectations for their children. Our aim is to see how expectations and aspirations for their children change depending on whether it’s a son or a daughter.
Thursday afternoons I have Post-Colonial Studies. This is such an interesting course to be taking in Morocco, because as much as we can talk about post-colonialism in Canada, the Moroccan perspective is so different, and arguably so much more important. A lot of our readings are based in understanding the relationship between the native and the colonizer, and there are a lot of different post-colonial theorists with varying views. One of my favourites is Fanon, who was a part of the Algerian independence movement, and talks about the way the colonizers dehumanized the natives, and that the native was therefore not only colonized physically and economically, but also mentally and culturally. Most recently, we’ve been talking about language, and whether or not people who have been colonized should write their literature in their own native language or in the language of the colonizer. All theses issues are so interesting, and it’s great to hear what our Prof has to say as a Moroccan man.
Other than Arabic, classes are only once a week, but the work is really starting to pile up! I don’t have any real exams, but a lot of final essays and different presentations here and there. The workload is definitely manageable, but it’s hard to buckle down and actually do the work when I have Morocco outside my window!