Brooke Griffin - Morocco

Brooke attended Al Akhawayn University, an institution similar in size to Dominican, and lived in Ifrane, a mountainous village similar to her hometown of Truckee. Her goal was to learn about and absorb Morocco, which is marked by historical and cultural diversity. The average person there speaks three to four languages. Her experience in the Dominican Study Abroad exchange program was a true adventure.

Camel in Desert of Morocco

“I literally wanted my life to be shaken. I wanted that. I wanted something to change the way I saw things. I wanted to be turned upside down,” Griffin said. “I want answers so I thought it would come from something hard and different.”

Griffin, a Gender Studies major who has been actively involved in women’s right causes at Dominican and last year helped organized the “One Billion Rising” march on campus, learned first-hand the struggles of the Moroccan women’s right movement and how it is being revived after periods of oppression.

“My major has taught me never take anything at face value. There never is just one reason it is happening,” Griffin said. “I’m so glad I explored it.”

Griffin discussed women’s right issues with fellow students, some of them Moroccan, during her Arabic language and culture classes. She had more in-depth conversations about it with study abroad friends when they traveled to the west coast city of Taghzout or east into the Sahara Desert.  She looked for answers in the Koran, the religious text of Islam. She concluded that the women’s right movement in Morocco was slow developing, hindered by politics and laws.

“I really feel I know why it’s happening. What I learned coming out of it now I would never take back,” Griffin said. “I found that my peers were not much different than me. In our many conversations about politics or social issues, family life and personal relationships, we valued the same things -- respect, compassion, equality, closeness, honesty, sustainability, grassroots, representation, democracy, growth, progress, freedom to think, act, and choose.”

Griffin was touched by her Moroccan friends and how they helped her if she needed directions or how they cared for her if she became ill. They were giving hosts.

“I was one is fortunate enough to become considered part of the community, which often does not happen on a short vacation for tourism,” Griffin said. “One finds that in Morocco, taking care of ‘your community of family and friends’ is so important.”