Matt Martignoni (Spring 2021, Middlebury College)
The Voice of Amazigh Women, or IMSLI, (est. 2009) is a nonprofit organization based in Rabat fighting for the rights of Amazigh women in Morocco. The organization works to advance the civil, political, economic, social, cultural, linguistic and environmental rights of Amazigh women who face significant challenges in Moroccan society. Perhaps one of its most inspiring projects focused on environmental preservation of the Argan tree. While this connection with feminism may not be immediately apparent, this work played a major role in empowering women. It focused on educating them around effective techniques for extracting argan oil and thus guaranteed a certain degree of economic independence.
Throughout my time with the organization, I was able to engage with several issues facing this minority group and to contribute in their fight against discrimination and societal progress. My responsibilities with IMSLI varied from translating internal documents or video editing to independent research, and even completing a grant proposal. Through this work, I was able to glean a nuanced understanding of how localized feminist activism operates in North Africa. Even though working remotely across the Atlantic came with challenges, the Middlebury School in Morocco administration was incredibly supportive.
As someone deeply interested in social justice, this opportunity to learn how feminist activism works in the Middle East was eye opening both academically and personally. I learned new ways of understanding issues facing individuals in the MENA region and my exposure to this organization’s work was invaluable both in terms of my language abilities and personal growth.
Piara Biggs (Winter Term 2021, Middlebury College)
This winter, I completed a one month virtual internship with Bou Naceur Sustainability. Bou Naceur Sustainability (BNS) is an American non-profit organization that works with Amazigh communities in the Atlas Mountains. BNS raises money to fund and implement sustainable development initiatives in the town of Oulad Ali Youssef that boost economic development while preserving the local environment and heritage. BNS also hosts students from Middlebury’s school abroad in Morocco each semester during program trips.
During my internship, I worked on promoting the organization by creating social media posts, designing a new page for the organization’s website, and creating an outreach program to speak to other study abroad programs about sending their students to Oulad Ali Youssef. Additionally I had the opportunity to speak with BNS’s chair of the board to learn about the process of establishing a non-profit organization, and even got to help with writing the bylaws of the organization.
Before the internship I didn’t have much professional experience in digital design, or social media for a business and I had never learned about non-profit management. But after this internship I feel much more confident about working in these areas and I’m so glad I was able to learn so much from this organization.