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Instructor Introduction

Dear Madagascar Fall 2017 Students,

I am so excited to serve as one of your instructors this fall semester along with Micah and Sidonie. Although this will be my first time in Madagascar, I have long been interested in the country’s rich biodiversity and ecosystems. In the past, I have worked with some local environmental organizations from this wonderful country and have made some incredible friendships.

This fall is going to be my fourth Dragons course – having instructed on three summer programs in Morocco (2007, 2008, and 2017). I have always had great time running Dragons trips and I have had the chance to meet amazing students and co-instructors during my work with the organization. I have learned a lot from both and I consider Dragons’ approach to introducing young students to different countries and cultures one of the best out there. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and dedication to learning during this journey.

I am Moroccan-American, born and raised in Morocco. I lived in New York City for several years before my professional career took me to Europe. I lived in Switzerland, Germany, and now reside in The Netherlands. I, myself, have been a non-stop learner, adventurer, and leader. I came from a tiny Berber village in the South East of Morocco. My first challenge was to fight for my education. With the help of my wonderful parents, I studied in many cities of Morocco and went on to receive my BA in English Language and Literature with a major in Applied Linguistics. I taught English and French for high-school students for four years before I began working with the U.S Peace Corps for another four years as Language and Cultural Facilitator. With Peace Corps, I was not just Arabic and Berber language instructor. As part of my work I wore many “hats” which broadened my experience interacting with locals in different regions of the country. I got the chance to work in some of the most remote yet rich and diverse areas in Morocco and met wonderful people that I’m proud to still be friends with.

After my four years with Peace Corps, I moved to the United States and started another page of my life full of learning and excitement in the Big Apple! The city that does not sleep opened its arms to the village boy. I worked for several different non-profit organizations before I decided to take another challenge; I enrolled in a Masters program at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I studied Sustainable International Development for my Masters, which gave me the opportunity to intern and later work for United Nations Development Program and UN-Women in New York. My focus was on women and youth empowerment in Middle East and North Africa. I have had the opportunity to travel to several countries either for work missions or leisure such as India, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Dubai, Norway, France, Hungary, Belgium and Spain. In 2015, I moved to Europe and lived in Switzerland, Germany, and now in the Netherlands working as a teacher of English. America has given me a lot and having American-Moroccan citizenships is a privilege and pride that I will carry all my life.

Working with youth, to me, is most beneficial and fun when we let our students express their energy their own unique way. I love working with students to help them see, smell, touch and engage with their surroundings. Leading Dragons trips has allowed me to facilitate these sorts of interactions and I never tire of seeing the excitement of students as the explore a new country, as we will do in Madagascar.

So, to our Madagascar 2017 students and families: bring all your curiosities and questions to us. Come full of ideas you want to try. Get out of the box! You are able to do this because of the attention Dragons brings to education and safety.

So, this is a little about me and I will be thrilled to respond to your questions any time. Please also tell us also about yourselvesJ. We would like to hear from you and have you introduce yourselves here on the Yak Board!

Best regards,

Mohamed