Au Maroc!

Friday, September 5, 2008 | Washington, DC, USA

"Don't be afraid to take that big step."
Jacqueline and I are moving to Morocco, the homeland of Ibn Battuta! It's been official for several months already, but is sinking in fast now that I'm back from Denver and have just a few more days to prepare to leave the country.

A few months ago, Jacqueline received a grant from the US Fulbright Commission to spend an academic year studying in Morocco. Her research proposal revolves around some major legal reforms undertaken several years ago in the country, and the impact those reforms have (or haven't) had on Moroccan women.

On top of that, Jacqueline received a Critical Language Enhancement Award to study Arabic for up to six months, prior to the main grant. Altogether, we expect to be in the country about 15 months.

For the first six months, our home will be the northern city of Fes (also known by the alternate
spelling Fez, or in Arabic, فاس). There, we'll study both Modern Standard Arabic and the Moroccan dialect at the Arabic Language Institute in Fes (ALIF). After that, we'll go where Jacqueline's research takes us, most likely to the seaside capital, Rabat, and possibly to Marrakech for a time.

This year should be a great opportunity for me to get back into top form with my French and perhaps salvage my fading Arabic, and to focus on writing, photography, and other pursuits. I don't expect my savings to last too long, so I will likely find a job in one or all of our destinations.

With so little time before I leave the US on Tuesday, I'm in the midst of frantic preparations, and growing more excited by the day. Though I hardly need more encouragement, lots of advice à la "do it while you're young" from family and friends as well as the fortune cookie message I got tonight have been welcome.

I expect the adventure of the next year or so will keep me busy blogging, so check back often. Or better yet, subscribe here.


Nick Miede said...

Hey Andrew, I'm very jealous of your move. I've actually been craving tangines lately. During my trip there, I did some research on Mudawana -- I'm assuming that's what Jacqueline will be researching -- though nothing too deep and mostly related to microfinance. I'm very interested to hear what the civil liberties sentiment is given the recent jailing of the subversive blogger and now the court's dismissal of the prosecution's case. Maybe you could mention something about it in one of your posts.
Safe travels!

Andrew Farrand said...

Hey Nick, I'll be sure to eat some good tagine on your behalf. Also, yes Jacqueline is going to be researching the Mudawana reforms, so I'm sure I'll learn quite a bit about the topic in the process.
I've been thinking about some issues related to the civil liberties questions you've raised, and hope to get together a post on that subject in the future... if I'm at liberty to do so, of course.
Thanks for your feedback!

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