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Small Town College Students Explore International North African City

Rabat, the capital of Morocco, a seaside country in the northern part of Africa, was recently home to four Wilmington College students and two alumni for the weekend of November 2 to November 5. WC students Amanda Watson, Michael Smith, Jese Shell, Tess Delcamp, and alumni Maraya Wahl and Chris Howard participated in the International Model Arab League (IMAL) hosted at the International University of Rabat.

“The experience was everything I had hoped it would be from getting to explore Morocco to the Model Arab League,” says Amanda Watson, senior and first time participant in the Model Arab League. “It has given me even more motivation to move and live outside of the United States.”

Shown: Amanda Watson, camel ride in the Merzouga Desert

From October 30 to early November 2, prior to the opening of the IMAL, the group toured the Moroccan mountains and well-known cities of Marrakesh and Ouarzazate. They stopped for street-side merchants, ate traditional Moroccan meals, rode camels, climbed the spectacular dunes of the Merzouga desert, and befriended the locals.

“As a whole, this trip has likely changed my life, which isn’t really surprising because I think traveling abroad can do that,” continues Watson. “But, it has definitely increased my desire to travel in the Middle East and hopefully stay there for extended periods of time to learn more about the culture and the people.”

Michael Smith, a WC junior, says, “My favorite thing about Morocco is a tight tie between the beautiful vistas, tantalizing culinary experiences, and the ultra-hospitable natives.”

After exploring Morocco, students began their participation in the IMAL, a program that informs young leaders about international issues and creates a greater awareness of the Arab world and its people. Each student from Wilmington and other international universities represented a country within the actual Arab League and worked to resolve political and social issues that affect the area.

“It was an incredible learning experience and a lot of fun to participate in,” shares Watson. “It opened my eyes to the experiences of people from a completely different culture and part of the world than I’m from. It was a wonderful environment to learn and grow in and everyone was willing to help each other.”

“I knew coming in to the conference I needed to be superbly prepared and have my facts straight,” said Smith, who has previously participated in the regional Model Arab League.

Shown: Maraya Wahl (left) and Amanda Watson (second left) participating in the MAL

Participation in the Ohio Valley Regional Model Arab League is offered by WC Professor Marlaina Leppert-Wahl as a 2-credit hour course in the spring. Students of all majors are encouraged to participate.  Leppert-Wahl also accompanied WC students to the National Model Arab League event in Washington, DC for the first time in April 2018 and will return with another group in March 2019.

Smith said, “I implore other students at Wilmington College to participate in MAL because of the way it sharpens your critical thinking and writing skills, as well as deepen[s] your cultural understandings and mak[es] you a more well-rounded person.”

Concerning the future of the IMAL for Wilmington College students, Leppert-Wahl says, “I would like to make the IMAL in Rabat, Morocco an event that we participate in every other year. At this point, I am planning to take students and alumni back in 2020. I will also look into other opportunities for IMAL for Wilmington College students. There is one in Egypt, for example.”

For more information about Wilmington College’s participation in the regional, national, or international Model Arab League, contact Dr. Marlaina Leppert-Wahl at

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