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  • Locations: Marrakesh, Morocco; Toubkal, Morocco
  • Program Terms: Summer
  • Budget Sheets: Summer
Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer 2021 01-MAR-2021 10-MAR-2021 12-JUN-2021 07-AUG-2021
NOTE: Students who are accepted to this program must commit to or decline participation by April 15. Students will need to depart the US by June 11 to arrive in Marrakesh on June 12. Do NOT book flights until instructed to do so by the ISO.
Program Description:
Women Walking in Moroccan Countryside

Participatory development entails the empowerment of local communities and stakeholders to identify needs, priorities, and projects to achieve locally-defined goals of transformation. The High Atlas Foundation (HAF), a non-profit organization based in Marrakesh, has operated as a leading proponent of participatory development in Morocco since its founding in 2000 by former Peace Corps volunteers. The HAF acts as a bridge between local communities and institutional partners (governmental, non-governmental, and private business) that can provide needed resources to achieve desired outcomes. Check out the HAF newsletter for details about recent initiatives.

This 8-week hybrid internship-study abroad program offers the unique opportunity to pair academic learning about global approaches to community development with an actual experience of work in this professional field, all within the fascinating national context of Morocco. In their internships with the HAF, students will have the chance to develop first-hand understandings of the participatory approach to development by cultivating skills (as facilitators and participants) in its methods, within both the classroom and community settings, and by documenting its practice.

In the course of the program, students will be exposed to a range of themes relating to development through the work of the HAF, including women's empowerment, conflict management, environmental conservation, cooperative-driven entrepreneurism, migration, and more. This opportunity is particularly relevant for, but not limited to, students interested in environments and sustainability, women’s studies, global culture and commerce, security and justice, public health, and development studies.

In previous summers, UVA student interns with the High Atlas Foundation found that writing was an important facet of their internships. While in Marrakesh, they drafted grant proposals, articles, and blog posts which were then disseminated widely across media outlets in Morocco, Africa, and beyond. Below are pieces published by UVA students in summer 2019 which address themes and issues relevant to the HAF’s work:

Announcements Iconannouncement

In accordance with the University Restriction on All Student International Travel due to COVID19, all student travel to/from, and activities at, international destinations for University-related purposes is restricted. See our Covid Considerations page for more information.


Location IconLocation

Morocco is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy, situated at the geographic and cultural crossroads of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The program will be based in the “Red City” of Marrakesh, an ancient city rightfully famous for its busy souks, heavenly gardens, and stunning location near the High Atlas mountains. HAF headquarters are located in Gueliz, the heart of the modern town. Students will also have the chance to visit HAF project sites in communities outside Marrakesh.

Kitchen in Marrakesh Tagine

Courses IconCourses

GSGS 3250: Global Perspectives of Development Experience in Morocco, 3 credits
ARAB 2256 and 2266: Colloquial Arabic I & II, 1 credit (.5 credits each)

Students take both courses (for a total of 4 credits), in which the student will be given the opportunity to:

  • Become familiar with major social theories of development that have shaped community development pathways worldwide over recent generations
  • Analyze the particular pathways and vision for development that Morocco’s government has officially defined for itself in light of these global theoretical perspectives
  • Practice translating academic knowledge to the wider public by writing a well-researched newspaper article about a Moroccan development-related topic or theme that will resonate with African, Middle Eastern, and global audiences
  • Develop first-hand understanding of the participatory method of sustainable development by becoming acquainted with the development initiatives and activities of the High Atlas Foundation and cultivate skills in the method by engaging in its practice
  • Acquire basic spoken language skills in Darija and demonstrate understanding of fundamental conventions of communication in Morocco
  • Exercise the transferable skills of navigating cultural differences, adapting to new and changing environments, and engaging different perspectives on issues by working in the multicultural HAF office and at project field-sites.

There are no prerequisites for this program; however, prior study of French or Arabic language could prove useful.

In addition to participating in classes and completing assignments, students will participate in a 30-hour/week internship at the High Atlas Foundation. Working side-by-side with Moroccan national staff members of the HAF in the course of their internships, students will also have the chance to visit local communities in the course of weekly visits to different HAF project sites.

Upon acceptance to the program, student participants will engage in introductory conversations with Dr. Ben-Meir regarding HAF’s current projects and individual interests. Once in Marrakesh, students will be expected to contribute to HAF’s work in ways that fulfill its team’s most pressing needs at the time. Students’ work for the HAF may include (but will not be limited to): grantwriting; blog post/article writing; documentation of current projects/initiatives; research of fundraising opportunities; background research on HAF-relevant themes/issues; developing training materials; conducting market analyses and producing business plans for HAF-supported entrepreneurship initiatives; assisting with community meetings.

Faculty IconFaculty

Yossef Ben-Meir |

Dr. Yossef Ben-Meir has been dedicated to the field of international development since 1993 when he joined the Peace Corps in Morocco. In 2000, he co-founded the High Atlas Foundation and served as president of the Board of Directors until 2011, and currently leads its operations. Dr. Ben-Meir was a faculty member at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane (2009-10). In 2003, he was a research fellow at the American Institute of Maghrib Studies, and earlier an Associate Peace Corps Director (1998-99), managing the agriculture and environment sector. He writes on the subject of promoting human development in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Ben-Meir holds a PhD in sociology from the University of New Mexico (2009) where he also taught, an MA in international development from Clark University (1997), and a BA in economics from New York University (1991).

Ingrid Hakala |
Ingrid Hakala is the director of UVA Global Internships and will serve as the UVA co-director of the program. She will be on-site in Marrakesh for a portion of the program. She holds a doctoral degree in the anthropology of education from UVA and has standing academic interests in the intersection of international education with international development.

Accommodation and MealsAccommodation and Meals

Students will be housed in shared apartments (likely 3 or 4 students/each) in the Gueliz neighborhood, an area which is known as being the heart of the modern city of Marrakesh and is commonly frequented by travelers. Student apartments will have kitchen facilities for self-catering and will be located within walking distance from the HAF office. A simple breakfast, cooked Moroccan lunch, and afternoon tea will be provided by HAF each day. Students are expected to provide their own dinner and supplementary provisions; affordable restaurants and grocery stores are readily accessible in Gueliz.

Cost & Financial Aid

The program cost and payment schedule are listed under the "Budget Sheets" link at the top of this page. Students with identifiable financial need are encouraged to apply for fellowships, scholarships, and financial aid. Participants in the UVA in Morocco: Participatory Development in Practice program are specially eligible to apply for the Global Internships Summer Travel Grant for UVA Internship Programs

Moroccan Market

Accessibility IconAccessibility

The University of Virginia believes in providing reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities on an individual basis. If you believe that you would require adjustments in order to fully participate in this program, please contact the Student Disability Access Center at 434-243-5180 as early as possible in order to begin this dialogue.


Passport IconPassport and Visa

All participants will need a valid passport in order to participate in the program. Students must ensure that their passport is valid at least six months past the program return date. US passport holders will not need a visa to participate in this program. Students traveling on other passports are responsible for verifying Moroccan visa regulations, and should meet with their International Student Advisor in the International Studies Office for information about re-entering the U.S. 


Health Info IconHealth and Safety Information

All students considering Education Abroad should consult the Students Abroad section of the U.S. Department of State’s web-based travel resources and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health web resources to research health, safety, and security conditions; visa requirements; immunization requirements; and recommendations on staying healthy and safe in their target destination(s). Students should also carefully review the UVA Education Abroad Health & Safety Abroad web page. Parents and guardians are strongly advised to review all of these resources, as well. UVA students and visiting students enrolled in UVA Education Abroad programs are subject to the University of Virginia’s Policy on Student International Travel.