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A New Adventure in Morocco
Catherine Cartier (YES Abroad 2013-2014, Morocco) has not stopped exploring the world following her YES Abroad program year. She is currently participating on a Fulbright research grant in Morocco where she is researching and translating Moroccan Arabic poetry written by women.
Before traveling to Morocco for her Fulbright, Catherine reflected on how the YES Abroad experience shaped and prepared her for future challenges and opportunities. She said "I love the lens of YES Abroad because I feel this program pushes students to learn about their host country while examining their own biases and position. This perspective shaped how I approached studying abroad in Jordan, Tajikistan and Lebanon - seeking out immersion while reflecting on my own motivations and the 'sunglasses' through which I saw the host culture. YES Abroad is a valuable experience for any high school student, because it will push you to learn and un-learn constantly.
"When I was a YES Abroad student, I spent a lot of time thinking about, observing, and trying to make sense of language and gender issues in Morocco. While I've researched other topics and worked in journalism, national security, and refugee rights advocacy, I will soon return to Morocco on a Fulbright Research grant and I will continue to examine many of the same topics that I was first exposed to as a YES Abroad student.
"Additionally, I studied Arabic in college, and in the U.S., our Arabic curriculum can often feel detached from the goal of communicating with Arabic speakers. My time in Morocco exposed me to the joy of communicating in Moroccan Arabic and YES Abroad helped me to root my Arabic studies in communication and connection.
"To summarize: My YES Abroad experience deeply shaped both the questions I ask and how I go about answering them. To have this experience at such a young age means that everything that followed it has been impacted for the better because of the support of my YES/YES Abroad alumni family and the lens this program helped me develop."
After arriving in Morocco for her Fulbright, Catherine reflected again on her YES Abroad experience:
"My YES Abroad experience sparked my curiosity about questions of language, identity and gender in Morocco, and participating in Fulbright has allowed me to return to Morocco to examine these questions, equipped with new language and research skills. But perhaps most importantly, the lessons from my YES Abroad experience guide me as I settle into my Fulbright. Practices such as celebrating the small victories and examining my own "sunglasses" (the perspective through which I perceive unfamiliar things) are an everyday part of my life, in encounters related to my research and beyond."