Moroccan ambassador takes strong interest in UD study abroad
1:31 p.m., March 27, 2013--The University of Delaware’s Audrey Helfman, associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration, has led study abroad programs around the world, teaching leadership dynamics, direct action organizing and coalition building in countries like Vietnam, Laos, Egypt and Morocco.
But her most recent study abroad excursion to Morocco was like nothing she or her students had experienced before.
Making Delaware home
Distinguishing this trip from others were numerous opportunities provided to the group by Rachad Bouhlal, Moroccan ambassador to the U.S.
Bouhlal arranged for formal VIP meetings with two walis, provincial governors nominated by the king, as well as briefings by members of their executive staffs. The students asked questions about the governance systems in each province to better understand the process of leadership within urban areas in Morocco.
Helfman also met with the vice chancellor of the University of Marrakesh, which enrolls nearly 63,000 students.
Bouhlal had met with Helfman and a few other faculty members last fall, in a meeting set up by the Institute for Global Studies and the office of U.S. Sen. Chris Coons.
He became “an immediate friend to the University,” Helfman said.
“He really cared about us and our experience,” she said, adding that the ambassador personally contacted hotel owners and speakers to insure that Helfman and her students were well taken care of and had an all around great experience in Morocco.
Upon their return, he invited Helfman and her students to a lunch at his Washington, D.C., home, where students informed him about their trip and discussed everything from the lavish lunch spread to the artwork and paintings that adorn his walls.
“He was delightful in his interest in the students,” said Helfman. “And we had a very different a better, far more interesting experience in Morocco because he was involved.”
Photos by Matthew Drexler