Dear Wellesley: Julide Iye '18 Writes from Tangier, Morocco Where She is Studying the Country's Built Environment

July 27, 2016

In the fourth of our 2016 Summer Postcard Series, Julide Iye ’18 writes from Tangier, Morocco where she’s participating in the Global Citizenship Program through Wellesley's Center for Work and Service. Iye is a Middle Eastern Studies major with special interest in the refugee crisis and health and development. Her internship is supported by the Susan Rappaport Knafel ’52 Internship Fund.

Dear Wellesley,

Each night the streets of Tangier, Morocco light up and fill with people of all ages enjoying the sea breeze after iftar, the breaking of the day-long fast. In the thirty days of Ramadan I have broken my fast in a variety of places from the train to the beach to restaurants overlooking the port. I am incredibly grateful to be working at the American Legation Museum through Wellesley's Global Engagement internship program during this time.

As an intern at the Legation, working in cooperation with Archnet at MIT, an online research database for Islamic architecture, my projects are wide-ranging with a special focus on the built environment of Morocco. One of my main projects involves the archiving and cataloguing of a glass negatives collection from the early 20th century. For another project, I have traversed the city and its many hills and narrow streets taking photographs and organizing materials for the museum’s 40th anniversary Tangier: Then and Now exhibition.  Walking to work each day, I have witnessed the transformation of the beach into a new sporting port. As I research the changes of the city as an intern, I simultaneously witness the changes as a resident Tanger-ine myself.

Much of what I have learned through my Middle Eastern Studies major has come to life. I have been able to meet fellow researchers and members of the museum staff, seeing first-hand the many applications of the field from archival techniques to translation to curating.

Moreover, the magnitude of current global issues can be felt here daily. When the United Kingdom voted on their decision to leave the European Union,"Brexit," all forms of currency exchange took an immediate hit. The continuation of the refugee crisis is clearly visible as people take to the streets, especially during Ramadan when Muslims are encouraged to give charity to the less fortunate. The sizeable refugee population from various parts of the African continent, and even from Syria, make the arduous journey from their homelands to be met with a clear view of Spain from the port on a sunny day. The thought of this view, an artificial boundary delineated by the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, separating entire countries and continents, acting as a barrier, is nearly unfathomable.

Morocco would not be the same if I had not brought some Wellesley love with me. I am fortunate to be here with one of my best friends from Wellesley, Amina Ziad '17. My other Wellesley friends, scattered across the globe, still love to connect and share our stories. In addition to the work at the Legation, I have been privileged to travel to other destinations within Morocco. Some of my best memories have been unplanned, stumbling upon an outdoor concert or meeting fellow university students. A necessity of any international experience is to remember that every moment is a journey!

Until next time,