As a college student in 2015, Ben Bartenstein found himself 4,000 miles from home in Rabat, Morocco. Bartenstein went to Morocco to pursue a career in journalism, an offbeat choice compared to others from his Wisconsin hometown of only 500 people. Most of his childhood friends went into farming, teaching, or the family business. But Bartenstein, now living in New York City as a reporter for Bloomberg News, was always interested in a life outside of Wisconsin. “Growing up in a more insular place where there wasn’t much diversity just made me extra curious about the outside world,” Bartenstein said.
SIT Journalism and New Media students visited former SIT participant Perry DeMarche (Spring 2017) at Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture in Agadir on February 20th. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology, DeMarche worked as an English teacher in France before she began working at Dar Si Hmad as the Ethnographic Field School manager. In this role, DeMarche manages field programs in environmental anthropology for university students. SIT students were also given the opportunity to hear about Dar Si Hmad’s fog harvesting project. This project uses revolutionary technology to capture the water from fog, so Moroccan women no longer have to spend up to four hours a day collecting water.
The following article was written by Ryley Graham, a fall 2019 alum of SIT: Field Studies in Journalism and New Media. On February 7th, 2020, her story was published in USA Today.
ZENATA BEACH, Morocco – Just a few hours after Brahim Lhlo laid eyes on the Atlantic Ocean for the very first time, it almost swallowed him whole.
“I was crying and asking God for help and the waves kept crushing us,” he said. “I never thought I was going to survive this experience – I was dying.”
After years of struggling to contribute to his family’s income, Lhlo, 27, left his central Moroccan village and joined 45 young Moroccan men and one woman on a voyage he had been considering for as long as he can remember – traversing the waters between Morocco and Spain to find work.
Paris Alston nearly studied abroad in Paris out of obligation to her first name. Instead, she was drawn to the SIT: Field Studies in Journalism and New Media program in Morocco because, journalist that she is, she had a sneaking feeling that whatever she had heard about Morocco was not the whole truth. “There was something about Morocco because it was a Middle Eastern Muslim country and the narrative we hear about countries in that region is not always the full scoop,” Alston said. “That was important to see for myself what was really going on there.” So in the spring semester of 2015, Alston, now 25, went to study in Morocco, a decision that would shape her career in public radio.
By Lexi Reich
Unsure of which study abroad program to choose, Jeanette Lam, 21, left the decision to a coin toss. Through that chance and the SIT journalism program in Morocco, she found herself in Paris last summer working as a cinematographer and editing assistant on a feature documentary.
“France’s Children,” directed by Aida Alami, advisor to the SIT program, follows the story of an immigration activist in France, and other activists who, fueled by the desire to empower their community, reject victimhood.
“This experience was one of the most unique opportunities I’ve ever had,” Lam said.
Alumna Anna Bongardino (Spring 2018) published this essay on the homestay experience in the PittNews. She is featured above with her homestay brother and sister.
I could hear the rhythmic chant of the afternoon adhan — the Islamic call to worship — ring out from the tinny rooftop speakers of nearby mosques from my second story bedroom in the city center of Rabat, Morocco. After the call to prayer subsided, a Moroccan woman who looked to be a few years younger than my mother walked through the door of my new bedroom and wrapped me in an affectionate embrace.
by Erika Riley
Maddy Crowell had never considered journalism before attending SIT’s program in Morocco in the Fall of 2013. Now she spends her days freelancing around the world, covering everything from France’s colonial legacy in Guadaloupe to white supremacists in the United States.
“It was all very transformative for me,” the 26 year-old alum said. “I came back to Carleton after the semester and switched [my major] from philosophy to politics and was very very restless and ready to get out of school.”
She originally applied to the SIT Morocco: Field Studies in New Media and Journalism program because she wanted to study outside the Western world and wanted to learn Arabic.
by Erika Riley
For Kayla Dwyer, the decision to study abroad during her junior year was a given. She knew she wanted to go abroad, and decided on the SIT Morocco: Field Studies in New Media and Journalism program after one of her friends who had recently finished the program recommended it to her.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I applied, was accepted, and I would never go back on that,” Dwyer said. “I wouldn’t change my decision.”
Dwyer wanted a program that would allow her to improve her French skills, while also going outside her comfort zone.
BY PERRY DEMARCHE
RABAT, Morocco — Danielle Douglas, an anthropology student at the University of Rochester, is about to present her senior thesis on self-censorship among Moroccan journalists. She spent several weeks reporting on how the construction of the Noor solar plant in Ouarzazate failed to provide locals with jobs. In writing this article, Douglas experienced firsthand the challenges of press censorship facing journalists in Morocco.
Her thesis, “Say it in a Hidden Way: A Culture of Self-Censorship and Subversion Among Journalists in Morocco,” represents a combination of her anthropological education with her journalism experience.
by Taylor Burris
Simeon Lancaster, 21, inspired by the president of Round Earth Media, Mary Stucky, knew that he wanted to journey to Morocco to broaden his cultural knowledge and build strong cross-cultural connections through his work in journalism. Although he has yet to return to the country, he is heading to Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus this January to study their governmental systems after the collapse of the USSR.
“Coverage is drastically decreasing and I don’t want that to happen. I saw so many people who had very important stories outside the U.S.