2023 Fordham Preparatory Morocco Cultural Journey

Dear Families, Friends, and Travelers – Welcome to the 2023 Fordham Preparatory Morocco Cultural Journey!  The Pre-Enrollment webpage is meant to share exciting highlights and important info that participants will want to know before signing up. Once enrolled, you'll begin using the Post-Enrollment page which offers a greater level of detail.  Please be sure to review the information thoroughly and get excited for a once in a lifetime experience in Morocco! 
Travel Dates: June 8, 2022 - June 19, 2023
Dates are tentative until flights are secured
Group Organizer(s):
WTT Contact:
Program Tuition: $3,390 USD
Airfare not included in program tuition
Estimated Airfare: $1,200

What to Expect

Please read through all of the information below. More details will be added as your departure draws closer.

Itinerary

We do everything possible to run safe, engaging, and immersive programs for our travelers, but given the unpredictable nature of international travel we must remain flexible in our planning. Changes to a schedule are uncommon but if inclement weather pushes us off course or an unexpected opportunity arises which travelers are excited about, we reserve the right to adjust programming in the best interest of the group. 

DAYLOCATIONDESCRIPTIONLODGING
June 8USA - SevillaToday the group will depart the USA and cross the Atlantic Ocean!Airplane
June 9SevillaAfter breakfast, the group will receive an orientation with the group program leaders. In the afternoon, we'll explore the city, including the impressive cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried. After a lunch of tapas we'll go up to the "Setas de Sevilla" to take in the impressive views. In the evening we'll prepare our own authentic Spanish dinner in a cooking class! Sevilla Hotel
June 10SevillaToday, we spend the morning visiting an olive farm nearby Sevilla, where some of the finest organic olive oil in the world is produced. In the afternoon, we will come back to Sevilla and have a dinner of delicious tapas.Sevilla Hotel
June 11Sevilla - TangierAfter breakfast we'll take a bus to the southern coast of Spain before boarding a ferry for a quick trip across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco. Upon arrival we'll settle into our riad, a traditional Moroccan guesthouse, and do some exploring in the old quarter of the city.Melting Pot Hostel or similar
June 12TangierToday we'll explore Tangier, one of the most famous cities in all of North Africa which is a hub of culture, language, food and religion. We'll wander the Medina, the historic market and experience the dazzling array of sights, sounds and smells. In the evening, we'll have a truly special traditional meal accompanied by live Gnawa music, which is a surprisingly funky tradition.Melting Pot Hostel or similar
June 13Tangier - ChefchaouenAfter breakfast we'll board a bus for the idyllic mountain town of Chefchaouen. This village is painted almost entirely in blue and, with its centuries-old cobblestone streets, offers one of the most photogenic locations imaginable. We'll spend the day exploring Chefchaouen and experiencing all that North Africa has to offer.Casa Perleta or similar
June 14ChefchaouenIn the morning we'll embark on a day-hike through the nearby Rif mountains, enjoying a picnic lunch in one of the most beautiful places in all of Morocco. We'll return to town in mid-afternoon to rest before a traditional Moroccan dinner.Casa Perleta or similar
June 15Chefchaouen - FesAfter breakfast and checkout, the group will travel to Fes. Fes is listed as a World Heritage Site and is believed to be one of the world’s largest urban pedestrian zones (car-free areas). It’s maze-like medina houses the University of Al Quaraouiyine, founded in 859, is the oldest continuously functioning university in the world. The city is also known as the “Mecca of the West” as well as the “Athens of Africa”. Upon arriving late afternoon, the group will check into their riad. Students will dine in a 250-year old courthouse that has been restored into a cultural zone called Cafe Clock.Fes Riad
June 16FesAfter breakfast at the riad, the group will enjoy a half-day city tour with a local expert. Students explore the medina’s many artisans’ quarters and the famous tanneries. The group will also get to see Fes’s religious and historical heart! The highlight of this day will be the Medersa Bou Inania. It originally functioned as both an educational institute and as a congregational mosque. It was founded in AD 1351-56 by Abu Inan Faris and is widely acknowledged as an excellent example of Marinid architecture. It is known to be the most elaborate and beautiful of all Merenid monuments, immaculate after renovation, it comes close to perfection in every aspect of its construction: its dark cedar is fabulously carved, the zellij tilework classic and the stucco a revelation.Fes Riad
June 17CasablancaAfter breakfast the group will travel to the western port city of Casablanca! Upon arrival, students will settle in our hotel. In the afternoon, we will have time to explore downtown and see the city's French colonial legacy and Mauresque architecture, a blend of Moorish style and European art deco. Afternoon will consist of free time to explore artisan markets before dinner. Casablanca Hotel
June 18CasablancaAfter breakfast around mid-morning, students will start their Moroccan adventure by visiting the Hassan II Mosque; the largest mosque in Morocco and the 13th largest in the world (its minaret is the world's tallest at 689 ft.). The walls are composed of handcrafted marble and the roof is retractable; it also stands on a promontory looking out to the Atlantic Ocean, allowing worshippers to pray over the sea. Students will take a guided tour inside the mosque and then pair up in groups to photograph and explore it’s stunning exterior architecture. After our final dinner in Morocco, we will head back to the hotel to prepare for our international departure tomorrow. Casablanca Hotel
June 19Casablanca - USAToday we'll depart for the airport to catch our international flight home. ¡Hasta luego!Your own bed, eventually!

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Accommodations

In order to provide a safe and memorable experience, we follow strict guidelines when choosing program accommodations. Walking Tree partners with locally-operated, three-star equivalent hotels and guest houses which are centrally located, clean and safe. 

Below are the accommodations we anticipate using on your trip, subject to availability. 
TOC Hostel Sevilla

TOC Hostel Seville is situated in an exclusive modern building at the heart of the city and is surrounded by the main places of tourist interest. This is a modern and hi-tech hotel, includes security technology with fingerprint room access control system, 24/7 Reception, , safes for your personal belongings and other features, such as free Wi-Fi, bar & restaurant, kitchen, main living room, and a playroom. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender and availability.

Grand Hotel Villa de France Tangier

This four star hotel was built in the eighteenth century and is located in the historic center of Tangier. The architecture of the Grand Hotel Villa de France, along with its fountains, pool, terraces and gardens, today create a convivial, relaxing atmosphere in one of North Africa’s most magical cities. Students will have internet access in order to stay connected, and will be grouped in double or triple occupancy rooms according to gender.

Casa del Norte – Chefchaouen

Casa del Norte is a riad located in the heart of Chefchaouen’s medina and offers a great way to experience Moroccan culture.  Students will be split by gender and share double, triple or quadruple rooms based on availability. Wifi is available in common areas and breakfast is included.

Santurcia Hostel

A great place to stay, network, enjoy an urban rooftop view and experience the local lifestyle firsthand. Designed with gorgeous Caribbean color and flair, it represents urban life with the essence of Santurce’s rich history and culture. Walking distance of one of the most important museums ‘Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico’, theaters, restaurants, coffee shops, 24hrs. supermarkets, pharmacies, recognized hospitals, and one of the most visited beaches. Free Wi-Fi keeps guests feeling connected at all times. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender.

Melliber Hotel Casablanca

For its ideal location in Casablanca, next to the sea. The Melliber Appart Hotel is a beautiful building that has all the commodities to make your stay unforgettable. Free Wi-Fi found throughout the building will keep everyone connected. Students will be grouped in their rooms according to gender.

Group Flight

Once your flight has been secured the itinerary will appear here. Walking Tree will secure a seat on the group flight for each participant unless otherwise instructed.

Travelers are responsible for checked baggage fees. Please visit the airline’s baggage webpage to learn if you should expect to pay anything.

We will provide a group manifest – complete with reservation codes and ticket numbers – to the Group Organizer/s before departure, but travelers will need to check in at the airport in order to receive their boarding pass and have documents verified. We recommend arriving no later than three hours prior to the scheduled departure, but contact your Group Organizer for specific details on exactly where and when to meet on the day of departure.

FLIGHT INTERRUPTION DELAY OR CANCELLATION 
Air travel is unpredictable, especially in a pandemic.  Regardless of proper planning, there may still be instances when a flight is delayed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, weather, mechanical problems, etc.  Please note that in such an event, Walking Tree Travel (WTT) is not financially responsible for unanticipated costs incurred by travelers en route.  Our programs officially begin and end in the destination country, and because our staff doesn’t fly with the group, Group Organizers (the traveling faculty member/s) become the front-line advocate for the group in the event of a delay. In most cases of cancellations or delays, the airline will be the one who re-books travel or possibly arranges a hotel and food the night.  Our primary role will be to  keep families updated and provide support to the Group Organizer to reach a  quick and effective resolution.

Host Community and Project Details

Packing List

What follows is a sample packing list, which will be updated for each program. We recommend you bring a larger piece of luggage like a roller, duffel bag, or backpack, as well as a smaller backpack that you can bring on hikes, weekend excursions and shorter activities.

“Less is more” is a packing tip we encourage for all our travelers. The below list should cover everything you would need, but we frequently hear that travelers feel “overpacked” if they follow all of our suggestions. Know yourself and what you are comfortable traveling with. We suggest bringing only as much as you would be able to carry on your own.

What to wear in Morocco?
The answer to this varies widely. But, perhaps most important to know is, there is no dress code in Morocco. You are not required to dress in one way or another. People that live in Morocco dress in a wide variety of ways and do not expect visitors to dress as they do. That being said, it is always a good idea to dress more modestly than you may at home.
With this being said, it may be nice for the female students and parents to read this:
“Is there a dress code in Morocco for women?”: The answer to this is yes and no. How to dress in Morocco as a woman is a question that plagues a lot of female visitors. You do not need to dress the same as local women. Morocco has no laws, or dress codes on what women must wear. Socially, society is conservative and it’s better to dress a bit more modestly. In large cities like Marrakech or Casablanca local women dress in a wide variety of styles. You’ll see short shorts and tank tops; you’ll also see full body veils. In rural communities it is highly advisable to cover up more. Wear longer shorts or pants and skip the tank tops, or at least drape a large scarf over your chest and shoulders when you are in the local communities. There is a strong likelihood that you will attract unwanted attention the more exposed you are.
*Please bring a bathing suit suitable to wear underneath a wetsuit (for surfing) for our time in Essaouira! Please note that walking to and from the beach everyone will want to wear their normal clothes, not cover-ups. Also, please note that Essaouira can be cold and windy. Students may want to carry a light rain coat/wind breaker when we are walking around. Once the sun goes down it can become quite chilly! It’s always a good idea to have a hat on you (due to the cold/wind) and a sweatshirt during all seasons when traveling to Essaouira. Students will also want to wear long jeans/pants for camel rides!*
CLOTHES:
6-8 pairs of underwear
6-8 pairs of socks (preferably breathable and/or lightweight)
4-6 t-shirts
2-3 long sleeve shirts (preferably lightweight)
1 light sweater or sweatshirt
1 light rain jacket
2-4 pairs of travel/athletic shorts/pants that are breathable and light
2-3 pairs of comfortable/hiking/everyday pants (NOT all jeans)
1 dressy/casual outfit to be worn to more formal dinners
1 bathing suit (suitable to wear under a wetsuit for surfing)
1 pair of durable tennis shoes
1 pair of sandals
1 sun hat or baseball cap
Important Note for Female Travelers: In the interest of being respectful while still allowing travelers to be comfortable, we recommend that shirts should cover shoulders and be long enough to be considered a “tunic”. All dresses and skirts should be conservative and be a “midi” length or longer.
TOILETRIES:
Please bring all your basic toiletries that you would normally travel with. Incase you need a guideline below are things not to forget to pack:
-Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
-Hair brush and/or comb (+ hair ties, barrettes + bobby pins)
-Deodorant
-Shampoo and conditioner
-Sunscreen and face lotion with SPF.
-Mosquito repellant
-Face wash
-A light moisturizer/lotion.
-Hand sanitizer
-Band Aids and Neosporin
-Prescription medication in properly marked original container(s)
MISCELLANEOUS:
-Passport and student ID
-Sunglasses
-Journal and pen
-Book (optional)
-Camera (digital/disposable/waterproof)
-European power adapter
-Debit card or US Dollars (for desired souvenirs, extra items etc.)
-Durable and lightweight water bottle
-1 quick-dry towel
-Deck of cards or other portable games

Support Team

At a minimum, one experienced Program Leader will travel on every trip. In addition to this full time leadership presence, Walking Tree has additional support staff in all destinations and 24/7 support from our headquarters in Denver, Colorado. Below you’ll find a list of the team members involved in the planning, organizing, and leadership of your program.

Said Ait Said
Said Ait Said
Morocco Country Director & Program Leader


ISTA NTIC Syba Ofppt, Marrakech

Said was born in Marrakech, Morocco and was raised in the old Medina as well as an off the grid Berber village in the High Atlas Mountains. He enjoys camping, taking road trips and carpentry projects. In 2012 he graduated in IT Development and started working as a freelance contractor for Technical Specifications Development. A year later he started managing accommodations and excursions for travelers in Morocco, where he met his wife, who is American. They are a combination of Berber, Moroccan and American; speaking English, French, Arabic and Tamazighit. He also has a two year old son, named Solomon. Said and his family are currently living in Marrakech, embracing their multi-cultural lifestyle!

Stafford Jackson
Stafford Jackson
Morocco Country Director


University of Arizona

Stafford was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana and then graduated High School in Dallas, Texas. After attending the University of Arizona, she set off traveling with her sister through Southeast Asia, Europe and Northern Africa in 2013. After traveling through Morocco, she decided to make it her home a year later and started an online shop, selling artisanal handicrafts from Morocco back to the States. While living in Tangier, she met her husband in 2014 while she was traveling through Marrakech. He learned to speak English for her and she moved to Marrakech for him. They now have small wholesale company together and both work of Walking Tree Travel! She enjoys photography, decorating and taking family vacations to small Moroccan villages on the Atlantic coast.

Luke Mueller
Luke Mueller
Co-Founder of Walking Tree Travel and Business Lead - Denver, CO


Emory University – B.A. Sociology and minor in Latin American History

During college, Luke spent a semester living and traveling in rural Mexico. His experience sparked a fascination with Latin America and a commitment to community service that continues to this day. Upon graduating from college, he joined WorldTeach and lived with a local family in a small village in Costa Rica while teaching elementary English. After this experience, he moved to San José, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica, and wrote for The Tico Times newspaper. Luke has since traveled to over 60 countries on five different continents.  Now settled in Denver with his family, he continues to crave massive helpings of rice and beans.

Group Roster

Below is a list of the travelers enrolled on the program.

  • 1 Jayden Carvajal
1 Travelers

Blog and Communication

During travel we will work hard to keep families updated as frequently as possible with blogs and photos, giving you peace of mind that your traveler is safe and thriving on their program.  Students regularly contribute to these posts, giving parents a great way to vicariously track the progress of the trip. You will receive an email notification when the first blog is posted, after which we recommend you check in regularly via the black “Program Blog” button at the top of this page.

Beyond this proactive approach to communication during the trip, most destinations are wired enough to allow participants semi-regular access to WiFi so you can also expect to communicate with your traveler directly. Ask your Walking Tree representative about the degree of connectivity on your program.

 

GLC Curriculum

Walking Tree has developed a curriculum of activities meant to help travelers get the most out of their trip before departure, during travel and after they return home. These simple and engaging activities are meant to spark discussion, frame experiences, and prepare participants to travel ethically and effectively both on this trip and on future adventures.

For more information about student learning objectives and the format of the curriculum, click on the ‘learn more’ button below.

Learn More About the GLC

To view and complete the Pre-Program Activities, visit our online portal at the button below.

Pre-Program Activity Portal

Standards of Behavior

In order to run a safe and successful program, it is important that we create an environment of trust, security and respect. All individuals participating in our programs are required to take responsibility for their actions and adhere to a high standard of behavioral conduct.

ABSOLUTE DISMISSAL

  1. Possessing, consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  2. Associating with participants while they are in possession of or are consuming or distributing alcohol or illegal drugs.
  3. Behaving in a way that consistently damages the group dynamic or jeopardizes personal or group safety. This includes consistently displaying a negative attitude, intimidating or excluding other participants, sneaking out, disobeying group leaders, and any other behavior that is not conducive to an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL OR IN-COUNTRY CONSEQUENCE

  1. Failure to abide by COVID-19 restrictions.
  2. Stealing, or deliberately damaging or defacing any personal property, buildings or materials.
  3. Possessing weapons.
  4. Riding mopeds, motorcycles, or any other type of unauthorized vehicle.
  5. Getting a piercing or tattoo.
  6. Being out after curfew.
  7. Breaking group rules.

These standards of behavior are essential for the successful completion of your program. Please take the time to review these as a family and make sure everyone understands and agrees to them.

Health and Safety

We strongly recommend visiting the CDC Morocco website to get the most updated information on health and vaccination considerations in your destination country. In addition, we encourage you to consult with your personal family physician so you can be as informed as possible when making important decisions about vaccinations and other necessary health-related preparations before travel.

Our in-country staff prepare meticulously for all programs. Walking Tree will register our programs and travelers with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in case of emergency. In country staff also verify the safety records of our partner organizations, vendors, and transportation providers, thoroughly vet homestay families via in depth interviews and home visits, and keep up on important current events in the region.

Program Leaders are seasoned travelers who are CPR and First Aid certified, undergo thorough training in crisis management, and participate in a multi-day leadership training retreat. We do our best to prepare for any eventuality and have detailed emergency protocols for our leaders, in-country staff and U.S.-based staff.

We receive medical disclosures from all participants to ensure we are able to meet every students’ needs during the program. Please inform us immediately of any additional health issues that you did not list during your initial registration process. Program Leaders will also hold an online information session before your departure, as well as an arrival orientation in-country, in order to give participants important instructions on food safety, hygiene and preventing injury and illness. Leaders and in-country staff always respond immediately to any mental, physical or emotional health issues and follow comprehensive emergency protocols.

Insurance

While we work hard to ensure the safest experience possible for our travelers on program, experience teaches that travel is never without risk. For this reason, we recommend that all travelers consider a travel insurance policy with  two additional provisions: Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) and Bed Rest. Detailed explanations of both provisions can be found on the link below.

To provide families with a quality option, Walking Tree has partnered with Travel Insured International, one of the most respected providers in the industry.  Begin by getting a quote here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: in order to secure coverage with CFAR included, you must purchase the plan within 21 days of your deposit/first payment. You must also insure 100% of your trip cost, so program tuition + flight.

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