For Moroccan native and Fulbright Scholar Youssef Fdilat, his transition to an American way of life hasn’t been that difficult.
“Growing up in a large and modern city like Casablanca, and having spent my university life at the Faculty of Letters and Humanities Ben M’sik, which hosts an array of highly qualified teaching staff and organizes one of the biggest international festivals of university theatre in the world, prepared me for life in the U.S.,” said Fdilat. “It wasn’t that big of a culture shock.”
Fdilat is currently pursuing his doctorate at University Hassan II Casablanca, which is one of Georgia College’s worldwide partner universities. He was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, with sponsorship from the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational & Cultural Exchange, to study at Georgia College under joint supervision with his home university. His research is on Moroccan-American studies, specifically looking at the two countries relationship during 1930 to 1963.
“The topic itself is very interesting and there’s been some research done,” said Fdilat. “But it hasn’t been fully covered and especially not from the North African perspective.”
Fdilat first became interested in American studies through his academic advisor and Director of the American Studies Lab at University Hassan II Dr. Karim Bejjit, who is also a former visiting scholar of Georgia College.
“He has been a source of inspiration for me to pursue my doctoral research in Moroccan American diplomatic relations and it was thanks to his encouragement that I applied for the Fulbright scholarship to study in the U.S.” said Fdilat.
Fdilat says the benefits of conducting his research at Georgia College is having access to a library full of relevant texts, as well as fellow students, faculty and staff as resources.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve joined the International Club, which has helped me meet people from all over the world,” said Fdilat. “I’ve also joined the Global Ambassadors Program and have been talking with faculty and staff who are interested in my research”
While in the U.S., Fdilat is being hosted by Dr. Larbi Oukada, who visited Morocco over the summer and aided in making arrangements for Fdilat’s stay in Georgia College.
“It’s been great having Dr. Oukada to guide me while I’m here at Georgia College,” said Fdilat. “Having a fellow distinguished Moroccan scholar here has helped me in so many ways.”
Fdilat says that Dr. Dwight Call, the former assistant vice president of International Education and a member of his dissertation committee, advised him to contact Dr. Spears, assistant vice president of International Education, and his team.
“They have been very helpful and welcoming and I just cannot thank them enough”, said Fdilat.
Spears says Fdilat’s perspective on the Moroccan-American relationship is truly unique.
“It is a great honor that Georgia College hosts a Fulbright dissertation student. Youssef’s interest in diplomatic history and American culture provides our students, faculty and staff with the right mix of intercultural exchange and diversity,” said Spears. “It is often perceived that North African and American cultures are disparate, but Youssef shows us that we have more in common than in difference.”
Fdilat will continue his research at Georgia College for a year; at that time he will return to his home university to complete his doctorate in Moroccan-American studies. After his doctorate, Fdilat says he’s thinking over his options but can see himself teaching at Hassan II University, or even returning to Georgia College.