Montana State University

Morocco: Sustainable Community Development-2013


Country:      MOROCCO  

Project Coordinates:   31◦ 50’ 16.90” N, 6◦ 06’ 38.72” W

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 temperatures extremes in May and June ranging between 32 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.
  • Assisting the Atlas Cultural Foundation and learning about international non-profit organizations and management.
  • Learning about non-profit Moroccan association structure and being a part of various stages of sustainable development projects.
  • Trekking in the Atlas Mountains.
  • Touring the medieval city, or medina, of Marrakech.
  • A tour of cooperatives in the coastal town of Essaouira. 
  • 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.  Essaouira is the windsurfing capital of Morocco and has a unique blend of Portuguese and Moroccan historic architecture. You will have the freedom to wander the medieval medina (ancient city) on your own and soak in the rich mosaic of culture and architecture.


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Contact Information:

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    “I feel like Morocco is the place that amplifies what the universe has to say.”    

                 Kristen- student participant summer 2011.