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NSU's Keller-Dupree studies in Spain, Morocco

Elizabeth Keller

(Tahlequah, Okla.)—Traveling abroad as part of Northeastern State University’s International Faculty Development Fellowship Program, NSU faculty member Dr. Elizabeth “Bea” Keller-Dupree visited Spain and Morocco from May 30 – June 10.

Keller-Dupree, assistant professor of psychology and counseling, visited Seville, Spain, and several cities in Morocco to learn how the proximate nations of Spain and Morocco coexist.

“I selected this particular study because I found similarities between the cultural issues faced by Spain and Morocco and those faced by the U.S.,” Keller-Dupree said. “Issues such as immigration, economic disparity and cultural contrast are of concern to those countries as they are here. I believe lessons learned by Spain and Morocco might be applicable and translatable to multicultural issues taught in counseling and psychology courses.”

The trip was arranged by the Council on International Education Exchange in cooperation with NSU and offered a comprehensive study opportunity.

The program is funded through an endowment with the Office of International Programs and managed by the NSU Foundation. During her visit, Keller-Dupree heard from experts on the historic and cultural links between Spain and Morocco, their international relations and the effects of population shifts. In Morocco, speakers discussed human rights, language diversity and economic development projects, particularly in agriculture.

“As a counselor, I’m always interested to hear how people coexist,” Keller-Dupree said. “In this particular instance we see coexistence between traditionally Christian and Muslim countries. The U.S. is currently fighting wars across a region with different religious traditions, and there should be a great sense of urgency to understand why.”

The topic of the faculty development seminar was “Exploring the Coexistence and Challenges of Neighboring Cultures.” The itinerary also included site visits. In Spain, Keller-Dupree toured the Casa Arabe Cordoba and the Primary School Pedro Garfias. In Morocco, she visited the Tangiers Med Port Project and the Project for the Integral Development of the Oued Lauo river basin.

While Keller-Dupree noticed the obvious parallels between multiculturalism in Spain and the U.S., she said there were also contrasts.

“In the U.S., the mesh of cultures is more like a kaleidoscope,” she said. “In Spain, there are multiple cultural influences from other countries that took hold and have lasted for hundreds of years. An effort was made to try and allow people to maintain their cultures, so you see everything from Roman to Renaissance architecture and all parts of Spanish culture.”

Keller-Dupree said many of her expectations of Morocco weren’t accurate, and that despite recent unrest progress is being made to enhance the country’s quality of life.

“One stereotype that was accurate was that women have fewer rights than in the West,” she said. “However, while there I learned about some of the projects they are undertaking to move forward. They are exploring sustainable agricultural practices, fostering more tourist attractions and providing better education and greater access. Also, we may tend to think of North Africa as an area of high poverty, but there is actually some wealth. In Morocco they are aware of the dichotomy between the haves and have-nots in their culture and are working to address it.”

A secondary aim of international faculty development is to create opportunities for students to study abroad and encourage travel overseas.

“I made several contacts and was able to network with faculty in Spain and Morocco as well as other American faculty,” Keller-Dupree said. “While in Rabaat, students toured with us and explained the culture. We were able to speak with these students and share insight. Traveling to other countries is an outstanding way for students to learn about other cultures and themselves. I hope that through this networking, I can create connections that may be beneficial to our NSU faculty and students who are interested in studying abroad.”

Four other instructors participated in the NSU International Faculty Development Fellowship Program this summer. Dr. Jennifer Edwards visited Northern Ireland, Dr. Amy Aldridge Sanford and Dr. Dilene Crockett traveled to Jordan and Dr. Michael Wilds studied in Thailand.

Published: 7/26/2011 3:16:35 PM

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