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The College of Wooster

Publication Date

Fall 2017


The dynamic between studentsstudying abroad and the host families with whom they stay is significant to both the study abroad experience and the way people in receiving countries view those fromthe West. Through my research, my goal was to explore and reachafundamental comprehension of this global dynamic from the Moroccan perspective.Specifically, the purpose of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of the process of cultural exchange and absorption which occurs through the use of food. I draw conclusions from information attained through formal interviews of mothers who host American students studying abroad in Rabat, and supplement this with descriptions of contributors’ homes from participant observation, to uncover answers to the question‘do host mothers living in the old medina of Rabat see themselves playing a role in the cultural educationof their guest students through the use of food?’ I then look to Franz Boas’ theory of cultural relativism, Roland Barthes’ article Toward a Psychosociology of Contemporary Food Consumption, and Sonia Shiri’s study titled The Homestay in Intensive Language Study Abroad: Social Networks, Language Socialization, and Developing Intercultural Competenceto help analyze my findings. Using the aforementioned ethnographic research methods,I discover that these women do recognize their part in developing students’ understanding of Moroccan culture. The domestic sphere reveals itself to be a strong influence in students’ comprehensionof tradition while in Morocco, and host mothers understand the dishes they serve and knowledge they providesupplements and affects students’ comprehension of society in Morocco.


Agriculture | Arts and Humanities | Life Sciences | Nutrition | Physiology


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