Thomas ('15) spent semester in Morocco studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics, traveling

(May 6, 2014) LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Junior McConnell Scholar Joel Thomas spent a semester in Morocco studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics and traveling throughout the country.
Thomas ('15) spent semester in Morocco studying Arabic and Middle Eastern politics, traveling

Thomas in Morocco

Joel Thomas, a junior McConnell Scholar at the University of Louisville, spent the Spring 2014 semester studying in Meknes, Morocco, with the International Studies Abroad (ISA) “Language, Culture and Society” program.

Aware of the growing popularity of studying abroad, Thomas admits he set out to find an experience slightly “off the beaten path.”

Studying Arabic, political science and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at UofL, it was not only Thomas’s adventurous spirit that lead him to choose Morocco, but the courses the program offered. These included courses in Arabic, Moroccan politics, the geostrategic importance of Morocco, and Islamic Art.

However, while he admits these classes were incredible, Thomas said that it was his experiences outside the classroom that left the most profound effect.

Among his favorite memories was a camping trip he and some classmates took to the Sahara Desert.

“When you first reach the Sahara Desert, it looks like a barren wasteland,” Thomas said. “But as you continue walking, you come across these enormous, beautiful sand dunes.” According to Thomas, he and his friends decided to climb the second largest sand dune in Africa to watch the sunset.  “It was absolutely breathtaking,” Thomas recalled.

Reflecting upon the role the McConnell Center has played in his travel experiences, Thomas said, “I am so grateful to the McConnell Center for this opportunity to study abroad.  The Center has helped me not only financially, but intellectually.  This incredible experience would not have been possible without them.”

Thomas is a native of Cadiz, Ky.  In addition to the McConnell Scholars Program, Thomas is a Harlan Scholar, a Student Orientation Staffer and a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity.

By Mary Elizabeth Young, McConnell Scholar '16