28 August 2020, by Ahlam Daoudi, Program Officer
Every year, and before starting their program in the United States, MACECE organizes a pre-departure orientation for FLTA participants to provide them with information to help them successfully navigate the program. FLTA participants, coming from both the public and private sectors of the Moroccan education system, teach or assist in teaching Arabic to American university students while serving as cultural ambassadors in their U.S. communities for one academic year. FLTAs also take classes at their host institutions.
Due to this year’s coronavirus pandemic, MACECE organized a virtual orientation for 2020-2021 FLTA participants in late August. This year’s FLTA cohort, which consists of 10 grantees, will have a hybrid program of an online fall semester conducted remotely from Morocco, and an in-person spring semester program in the U.S. During the virtual orientation, FLTAs were exposed to different presentations by MACECE and FLTA alumni. Four FLTA alumni were invited to share their experience and tips with the current cohort; namely, Sarra Safhi (Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah), Salah-Eddine Mouchane (University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida), Sofyan Essarraoui (Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina), and Widad El Mahtat (Drury University in Springfield, Missouri). The presentations tackled different topics such as: the American classroom, how to successfully teach online – tips and tricks, the FLTAs’ roles as cultural ambassadors, the dual role of an FLTA as a teacher/assistant and as a student, American life, American culture, how to manage culture shock, and gender norms. The FLTA participants left the orientation equipped with resources to help them feel connected as a cohort and prepare them to embark on their new Fulbright adventure with success.
Hind El Fellak, a new FLTA said, “My dream has come true when I was selected as a Foreign Language Teacher Assistant. Due to the unusual beginning of this academic year, we started our orientation online; we got the chance to “meet” FLTAs, university professors, and alumni from all over the globe. Importantly, our online orientation was not only about preparing us for our time in the United States, and making the most of our Fulbright experience, but it was also a remarkable opportunity to celebrate our cultures, identities, and ethnicities.” Another new FLTA, Yassine Ben Abou, remarked, “It was a pleasure to participate in the pre-departure online orientation which was very successful. Fulbright FLTA program bridges the gap between cultures and creates unique cross-cultural relationships.”