The Arabic Overseas Flagship Program is relocating from Alexandria, Egypt to Meknes, Morocco, having determined that restrictions in place to ensure students’ safety were undermining opportunities for informal language and cultural learning.
Demonstrations against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have swelled in the last week; an American college student in Alexandria was fatally stabbed on Friday while observing a protest. The U.S. State Department has warned against non-essential travel to Egypt in light of the growing political and social unrest, prompting universities to reevaluate their study abroad programs there.
“In recent days, it had become clear that in order to guarantee the safety of our students in Egypt, it had become necessary to establish curfews and limitations on their movements (including escort and shuttle arrangements to and from classes at the university), [meaning that] the students were essentially having to give up many of the kinds of informal language contacts and cultural exploration that overseas immersion study is designed to provide,” Dan Davidson, the president of the American Councils for International Education, which administers the program, said in an email.
“It was as much a concern for the quality of the learning experience available to our students under present conditions in Egypt, as it was immediate specific concerns about the students' immediate personal safety” that the decision was made to relocate the program to Morocco beginning July 6, Davidson said. The program's Egyptian partner institution, Alexandria University, will be transferring some of its language teachers to Morocco to continue working with students.
The yearlong Arabic Overseas Flagship Program began in early June and involves 18 students from five U.S. universities. The Flagship language programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program.