Spring Social Justice Tour

The spring tour is a little different from the fall tour in that it is split up into two parts and does not all happen at once. Within a few days of arriving in Bologna, we get on a charter bus and head up to the Swiss Alps for a few days as a group before returning to Bologna. Then, near the end of the semester, we travel as a group down to North Africa for 7-10 days for the extended tour. Those tours will generally rotate between Morocco and Tunisia.


Swiss Alps: Opening Orientation

During the January Opening Orientation the entire Italy Center community will head to Interlaken, Switzerland for fun (and some work). The January Orientation is an opportunity for our community to get to know one another and to explore the world-famous Jungfrau region of the Alps.  Ample free time will be made available during the Orientation for those who wish to ski, snowboard, or snowshoe. Students will be asked to pay for the optional outdoor adventure activities. Interlaken offers opportunities to those who seek an adrenalin rush through snow sports and for those who are seeking culture indoors (i.e. restaurants, galleries, shopping). The winter Orientation program has something for everyone.


Morocco Social Justice Tour:  Journey to the Maghreb (North Africa)

Italy Center film professor Reda Zine, who teaches our Human Rights Filmmaking Course, best captures the vision that frames the April trip:

“As someone who teaches American students for me it is critical that America’s youth meets Morocco’s passionate risk-taking youth.  This cannot be found sitting one one’s sofa watching CNN or Fox News. “

Highlights Include:

Berber Village: Environmental Preserve in the Atlas Mountains:  Journalist, musician and activist Samie Amale has been the inspiration behind bringing educational opportunities to the highly discriminated Berber community.  His vision has resulted in the building of schools in a nature reserve where the Berbers have resided for centuries.  Unfortunately, Amale has received death threats for his belief that all peoples of North Africa deserve an education.  Mr. Amale will host us as we spend two days in the spectacular Atlas Mountains, hiking, eating good food and learning about the lives of the Berbers.

Meetings with US Embassy Personnel:  The ramifications of the Arab Spring continue to be felt in Morocco.  We will meet with US diplomats and learn about the role of the United States Government in the region.

Fez:  Fez is the spiritual and cultural center of the country. The medina (walled city) has changed little during her 1200-year existence. We will spend time learning from local women, artists and community leaders living in the world’s largest living Islamic medieval city and the biggest car free urban environment on the planet.

Casablanca Music Scene: The trip culminates with a concert hosted for the Spring Hill community at the Boultek Center.  Boultek is a space dedicated to artists, filmmakers, radio producers, and bloggers.   The Center is funded in part by the Moroccan government as a vehicle for providing space for young people to express their views on Morocco and the world.  Click here for glimpses into the Bob Maghreb band. Better yet, come to Morocco and see them live.


Tunisia Social Justice Tour:  Journey to the Maghreb (North Africa)

In recent years, Tunisians managed to succeed in ousting Dictator Ben Ali who had controlled all aspects of their lives for 25 years.  The non violent peaceful “Jasmine Revolution” has been hailed as the impetus to bring bout radical changes in the Arab working in the year 2011.  Tunisia is safe and is considered an ally of the United States.

This Spring Semester Social Justice Tour is designed to integrate topics which have been explored in your Bologna courses.   The Spring Social Justice Tour is designed to introduce the serious student to the culture, history, and politics of Tunisia, an Arab country that serves as the present-day embodiment of the Carthaginian Empire – one of the greatest empires in the history of the Mediterranean. A unique combination of site visits and lectures by Tunisian scholars will focus on the politics of democratization in the Arab world, the role of women in Muslim society, Arab perceptions of U.S. foreign policy, U.S. perceptions of Tunisia’s role in the global war on terrorism, and the history of Islam in North Africa.

Highlights Include:

Tunis: Visit the vibrant and bustling capital city of Tunis where the old country ways clash with the modern society. Shop in the markets, stroll through the winding streets of the medina, pay your respects to US veterans at the North Africa WWII Memorial,  sip on tea (with floating pine nuts) in a traditional cafe in Sidi Bou Said and explore the ruins of Cannibal’s former empire.

Kairouan: Visit the Great Mosque of Kairouan, one of the, if not the holiest Islamic site in all of North Africa. Walk around the immense courtyard and get a glimpse inside the rug laden prayer hall. Sit outside the holy site during the call to prayer and observe the daily routines of the followers of the second largest religion in the world.

Sahara Desert: Lay on the Saharan sand and see what the solar system really looks like without light pollution (yes you can see the Milky Way and count satellites as they go by). Sleep in tents, eat traditional foods cooked by local hosts, and good luck getting the sand out of your bags! Did I mention we visit a Star Wars set…or two!