The immensity of the Arabic speaking world poses challenges for students to gain sufficient exposure to various dialects of Arabic and adequate cultural exposure to the diversity of the Arab world. To address this issue, Noor Majan and the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco (AALIM) teamed up to provide students the opportunity to study in Oman and Morocco under one program called Rihla, named after the Arabic word “journey”.
Noor Majan and AALIM are both recognized as the leading Arabic institutes in the their respected countries and are sister sites for the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship program. Together, the two institutes aim at closing the cultural and linguistic distance between two ends of the Arab speaking world. By collaborating on curriculum and cultural programs, the Rihla Program, allows students to experience the similarities and differences between the two regions.
The Rihla program is offered as a summer and semester option. We divide both offerings, summer and semester, into two distinct “journeys’” or parts. The Rihla summer program focuses on Arabic language and culture; with the first journey taking place in Morocco for 4 weeks and the second journey for 4 weeks in Oman.
The semester program differs from the summer program through its goal of broadening students understanding of the MENA region through economics and Arabic. The first journey takes place in Oman for 6-7 weeks, where the student will work on building a strong foundation in the Arabic language. Then the second journey, which lasts 10 weeks, will take the student to Morocco where the focus will be on both economics and Arabic. The student will dually enroll in AALIM and the University of Moulay Ismail (UMI) in Meknes.
Rihla Summer 2017 Participants (Left to Right) Yanzhe Li “Arthur”- Princeton University, Melita Piercy- Princeton University, Maggie Dene- College of William and Mary
2017 Summer Participant, Melita Piercy, exploring the history city of Ibri, Oman
“Studying at Noor Majan through the Rihla program truly made for such a productive, enjoyable, and unforgettable summer experience. In addition to significantly improving my Arabic language skills, the program also provided me with invaluable opportunities to engage with the local culture and develop meaningful relationships with both locals and other students. The structure of the Rihla program in which I studied for one month in Morocco at a partner institute and the second month in Oman with Noor Majan was an integral part of my experience; I found it so valuable to be immersed in two very distinct cultures of the Arabic speaking world and see how the same language can be shaped by culture and history. At both Noor Majan and AALIM, the partner institute in Morocco, the language instruction is phenomenal and really challenged me to engage with the language all day for the entirety of the summer. Coming into the program my listening and speaking skills were quite poor, but by the end of the program, I felt comfortable engaging in meaningful discussions on topics in politics and media. Every aspect of my experience with Noor Majan Training Institute and the Rihla program has been so valuable and enjoyable and I’m so thankful for the memories I have made and the amount that I have learned throughout this summer.” – Melita Piercy, Rihla Summer Program 2016, Princeton University”