When you study at AALIM, you aren’t just taking another Arabic class — you’re joining a vibrant urban community in the heart of Morocco. Meknes is one of Morocco’s five imperial cities, established in the 11th century and made the country’s capital in the 15th century, when Moulay Ismail established the Alaouite dynasty and erected a massive imperial palace complex in the old city, or medina. AALIM’s location inside a traditional Moroccan riad in the medina places you right in the middle of this history, and situates you in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Your daily walk to class will literally follow the footsteps of some of Morocco’s most powerful Sultans!
Meknesi people are well-known across Morocco for their extraordinary traditional handicrafts and excellent cooking skills. It’s the last city on Earth to still practice the endangered art of Damascene metallurgy, a type of metalworking that dates back to the Andalusian period. Walking around the AALIM center, you’ll find countless workshops where woodcarvers, painters, carpet-weavers, and jewelers practice and refine their crafts. As an AALIM student, you will have the chance to meet many of these craftsmen in person through outings and cultural activities. You’ll also get to try your hand at traditional pastry-making in the Fesi-Meknesi style!
AALIM knows that confidence in a foreign language comes both with its technical and cultural use. We are excited to offer many cultural events and excursions which highlight topics including traditional crafts and pottery, calligraphy, Moroccan weddings, architecture, cooking, history, as well as music and art from across the Arab world. AALIM staff members conduct tours of the historic district in Meknes, lead students on an excursion to the Roman ruins (Volubilis), located north of Meknes, and host top calligraphers, historians, and journalists.
Internships are a unique component of the curriculum at AALIM, offering students an opportunity to gain professional experience in the area of their personal and professional interests, improve their linguistic skills through direct interaction with Moroccan professionals, develop problem-solving abilities, and increase their public speaking expertise. Locations are often civil society organizations (CSOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but may also include private sector entities or educational institutions.
AALIM matches each student with a language or academic partner. These language and academic partners are university students who have been working with American students for many years. Each week, they meet with students for 3-4 hours, depending on the program, to help them practice what they have been learning in class. In addition, these partners also answer students’ questions on aspects of Moroccan culture, show them around the city, and connect them with Moroccan networks who facilitate deeper cultural immersion and integration. Thus, they help American students develop a more nuanced understanding of Moroccan customs and perspectives, while providing them with a Moroccan support system from their first day in Meknes.