French Language

Montana State University

Voyage and Discovery in the Francophone World
An International Service Learning Experience for French Language Students


Program Coordinates: 31◦ 50’ 16.90” N, 6◦ 06’ 38.72” W
Language: French (Intermediate French proficiency required. Beginners allowed with faculty consent.)
Community Partner: Atlas Cultural Foundation,

Summer Program
Dates: Spring 2023 (program begins and ends in Marrakesh on these dates)
Credits: ML 492, 6 credits
Level(s): Graduate and Undergraduate
Prerequisites: 2.5 GPA, faculty consent
Application Deadline: tbd

Cost: $tbd approximate cost (Excludes airfare and food in Marrakech.)
Faculty: Pascale Hickman, French Language Faculty,, 406-994-6444

  • Volunteer in Morocco
  • Zawiya Ahansal

Academic Program:
The Morocco: Spring Break Community Service program is an international service learning experience that offers university students the opportunity to assist in ongoing community development projects in the rural communities of the Zawiya Ahansal region in the Central High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The program is run through Montana State University’s Office of International Programs and is partnered with the Atlas Cultural Foundation (ACF), a non-profit organization with the mission of collaborating with rural Moroccans in order to improve their quality of life in the fields of cultural preservation, community education, and public health. Students will work with ACF and their in-country partners to assist with ongoing community development projects in addition to living and learning with the local community. The program is designed for university students with a minimum of intermediate French language proficiency.
The program offers an international experience for undergraduate and graduate students to travel to rural Morocco accompanied by Montana State University faculty and live and work in a small community. The student work will directly benefit ACF’s long-term programs in this region. The foundation of the program is a real world experience of living, working, and learning in a rural Moroccan village. Students engage in meaningful, community-identified work; are immersed in an intercultural living environment in which they engage in cross-cultural dialogue; observe, study, and participate in the host culture; work with faculty and professional mentors; and generally engage in a variety of formal and informal intercultural exchanges. These experiences are then reflected upon in direct and indirect methods with peers, leaders, or cultural informants. Through reflection and observation, new learning occurs and is then tested and applied in the field.

Students will have the opportunity to engage in some or all of the following service opportunities:
English and French language lessons for licensed Moroccan mountain guides, guesthouse owners, tour operators, government employees, elementary school students and tribal leaders.
Computer training for elementary students, government employees, ACF staff, and local association board members.
Other service activities developed by the program participants.

What to Expect:
Zawiya Ahansal is a remote and mountainous region located between 5,000 and 12,000 feet in Morocco’s Central High Atlas Mountains. It is a high desert region with temperature extremes in March ranging between 20 and 100 F. Regional equivalents are the City of Rocks in Idaho and southern Utah. Students should be prepared and comfortable with working in all weather, including rain, wind, and heat and should be physically fit and able to hike in mountainous terrain. In addition, all students will need to be physically able to work and hike at 6000 feet above sea level for extended periods of time. Students will be living with local families in registered guesthouses and should therefore be comfortable with and respectful of Muslim culture. Meals are prepared by your host family and are traditional Berber Moroccan cuisine. Sleeping rooms will be shared amongst students and are separated by gender.
Program highlights include:
Living with the sheikh of Zawiya Ahansal and his family.
• Assisting the Atlas Cultural Foundation on their current service projects and learning about international non-profit organizations and management.
• Learning about non-profit Moroccan association structure and being a part of various stages of community programs.
• Trekking in the Atlas Mountains, including an overnight stay in a remote village only accessible by foot.
• Touring the medieval city, or medina, of Marrakech.
• Enjoying the region’s natural surroundings during days off.
Recreational Opportunities
On your days off you will have the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of outdoor endeavors in the region of Zawiya Ahansal. Such activities include day hiking, trail running and world-class rock climbing in the Taghia Cirque (if you have previous skills and your own equipment). You will also have time to wander through the villages to take pictures, visit the local market and sketch and journaling.

Program Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, all students will learn, do, and obtain the following:
Technical Skills
• Develop technical skills in such areas as cultural preservation, community education, and rural health
• Develop an understanding of traditional methods and techniques
• Develop interpersonal communication and collaboration skills
• Develop problem solving and critical thinking skills
• Obtain models of alternative career development in your field
• Participate in and gain knowledge of sustainable community development and international non-profit management
Personal Skills
• Increase self-awareness
• Increase cross-cultural observational and communication skills
• Enhance intercultural sensitivity and understanding
Community/Global Citizen Skills
• Develop increased civic responsibility
• Increase global awareness
• Increase participation in and/or knowledge of global events

This program price includes the following:
All meals (B,L,D) in the village.
Airport transfer to and from train station or airport in Marrakech.
Private 4×4 or minibus transportation from Marrakech to Zawiya.
Private 4×4 or minibus transportation from Zawiya to Marrakech .
Access to two Arabic-Berber-English-French translators during trainings and free time.
Bottled water and/or treated drinking water in Zawiya.
Food and lodging  (The participants will be living with the sheikh, his family and the translators, and ACF. Sheikh’s house has shared bathrooms with gender separated sleeping rooms and mattresses on floor. Double occupancy hotel with private bath in Marrakech.)
Hotel Assia (2 nights), Marrakech, twin or triple rooms for students.
Gite Amahdar, Zawiya Ahansal, shared rooms.
Organization of all logistics.  (food arrangements, lodging reservations, transportation organized, local meetings and daily itineraries)

This program price does not include the following:
International and national airfare or transportation to Marrakech.
Food or water in Marrakech (breakfast is included in the hotel in Marrakech).
Insurance of any kind.
Participants’ personal communications.
Travel outside of the program before or after the program dates.
Personal items including toiletries, medications, passport fees, snacks etc.

Key web-links
Community Partner: Atlas Cultural Foundation

For additional information about this program, contact:
†Cloe Medina Erickson, Program Director,
Pascale Hickman,, 406-994-6444