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Instructor Introduction

Cara Lane-Toomey

Hello VMS-Morocco Students!

Congratulations on taking a leap on signing-up for the Morocco program!  With the help of your families, friends, and local communities, this February program in Morocco promises to be an unforgettable experience. My name is Cara and I will be one of your instructors in Morocco (along with my brilliant co-instructor Shino Yoshen).

In the time leading up to the program, please make sure to check this Yak board to find important information and introductions. For those of you who have already introduced yourself, thank you! If you have not, please do take a few minutes to let us know a bit about you. Please also feel free to post any questions that you have in the weeks leading up to the program.

A little about me; travel has been the cornerstone of my education. After graduating from high school in South Dakota, I took a big step out of my comfort zone by setting off for a gap year abroad program in southeast Asia. That first experience of traveling and learning about diverse cultures altered the path of my life dramatically.  Since that initial program, my desire to explore my place in this world has continuously grown. In university, I studied Political Science, Peace Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies and traveled whenever I could. As an undergraduate, I took advantage of as many study abroad opportunities as possible; participating in programs in Egypt, Northern Ireland, Ecuador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

While many places have intrigued me, it is the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region where I have focused my work and study. In addition to studying abroad in Egypt, I also served for two years as a U.S. Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer in southern Morocco. In the years that followed, I was employed by a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Congresswoman, and also worked as a Morocco Instructor and Course Director for Dragons for several summers. In 2009, I set out to live in Egypt again, where I completed my Masters in Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo and conducted research around the region. Following graduate school, I continued to explore new parts of the world in my free time- travelling in South America and East Africa. I also worked for a D.C. based non-profit for six years on the design and implementation of study abroad programs for American students in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, and the UAE.

When I am not leading this course, I serve as the Director of Study Abroad for Dragons and I also oversee our summer and semester programs in the Middle East & Africa. Much of my work focuses on program development and oversight, but it is this kind of opportunity – going out to Morocco with a group of adventurers (such as yourselves) – that makes me most excited. I am eager to meet you and to travel with you through Morocco as we learn about Islam and Moroccan culture.

Once again, the Yak Board is a forum to address all pre-course needs and concerns. Please take advantage of this chance to pose questions, connect, and foster a sense of community.

Here’s looking ahead to a phenomenal program in Morocco!

~Cara Lane-Toomey

[email protected]