The Subul as-Salam Centre for Arabic Language is a gem of a language school and cultural centre located in the Rcif neighborhood of the Fes Medina. It is run and operated by two amazing ladies, Meriem El-Haitami, 26, and Fatima Zohra Ibn El Cadi, 28, who first conceived of starting and running a such an institute during their last year of university. The school has been in operation since 2007 and is currently looking forward to expanding its range of classes, cultural programs and offerings this summer. Sam Gordon reports for The View from Fez
Spend five minutes with Fatima Zohra and Meriem and you’ll be hard-pressed not be inspired by their hard work, ambition, and enthusiasm – it’s contagious. Those qualities led the dynamic duo to open up a specialized language school that goes beyond the typical language institute offerings. While classes are the crux of the institute’s offerings, they are the conduit as Fatima Zohra puts it to “promote cross-cultural dialogue through education.” This mindset sparked creating Subul as-Salam. In the transition from their final year of university Fatima Zohra and Meriem dreamed of starting a school, one that would put an emphasis on intercultural activities and avoid the common pitfalls being “an average Arabic instruction school.” What they have established in the Rcif neighborhood of the Fes Medina is a space where intercultural activities and paramount language instruction seamlessly blend to create a unique learning experience.
|Secretary Assia (L) and Co-Founder & Instructor Fatima Zohra (R)|
One of the cornerstones that Meriem and Fatima Zohra set out in creating their school stems from their infectious curiosity and enjoyment of meeting foreigners and newcomers in the cultural crossroads of Morocco. Meriem notes that “people would come to Morocco and sometimes have a bad experience or an overwhelming experience and not have anyone to talk to,” – it was important to create a sanctuary where “people could come and learn about all aspects of Morocco.” The result was a place where they could “serve as a resource for anyone who wanted to talk about his or her experiences,” with Meriem, Fatima Zohra, and the teaching staff serving as cultural guides.
The result several years after the school has opened is an institute where the normal classroom divide of teacher and student does not exist, and instead there is a communal exchange, where the teachers are close friends and support for their students here in Morocco. It is evident in the many joint research projects where the teachers have aided and collaborated on projects looking at different Sufi brotherhoods, documentary films, and various development work and microfinance initiatives. Since Subul opened their doors, they have worked and helped over five generations of Fulbright scholars, FLAS fellows, and individual students from universities such as the University of Chicago, Princeton, Stanford, and Oxford.
Looking forward to the future Meriem and Fatima Zohra hope to continue to cultivate their dedicated staff of teachers and cultural instructors, and to expand the range and depth of programs offered in line with their goal of intercultural exchange. Most important is maintaining the constant exchange and steady instruction as well as giving back to the local community. Since the beginning of the school portion of each student’s tuition has gone towards local charities and organizations throughout Fes.
|A school excursion|
Cultural Events: The school has brought in a wide range of different instructors, university professors, to give lectures on different aspects of Moroccan culture and religion. The school also hosts many excursions and trips within Morocco, in addition a staggering variety of extracurricular activities like music, lute lessons, bellydancing, calligraphy, cooking, henna workshops and even instruction of traditional artisanal trades like wood painting, woodcarving, plaster carving, and jewelry making. The institute also organizes concerts and music performances. Subul also provides many volunteering opportunities for students where they can work with orphanages, women’s organizations and different organizations in Fes.
Class Offerings: This summer Subul will offer both MSA (Modern Standard Arabic) and CMA (Colloquial Moroccan Arabic) classes. They will also be offering a Maghrebi Intensive Program, a new ten day all-inclusive enriching program, designed for travelers in mind. The program will explore Moroccan culture through language classes and lectures as well as provide overnight/day trips and excursions to areas such as the Sahara, or the Rif Mountains, and Atlas villages, and provide a mix of extracurricular activities such as cooking, calligraphy, and music lessons – all in a convenient inclusive package. The Maghrebi Intensive Program will be starting July 9, 2012. There is an option of arranging a traditional Moroccan homestay to supplement the cultural and learning experience.
|Map of school location|
More information about the school can be found at their website: http://www.sacal-fez.com/
You can contact Meriem and Fatima Zohra by email at: info@sacalFez.com Phone: +212 (0)6 63 54 91 72. The Subul as-Salam Language Centre is located at 19 Gzem Benameur Rcif, Fes, Morocco