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Morocco Teacher Travel Tour Fun, with Funding!

Curious about group travel to Morocco for teachers — plus a funding opportunity to make it happen?Let’s hear from two educators who did a teacher tour of the Morocco!

TT: Karen and Julie, tell us about yourselves.

Karen: Hello! I’m Karen Krzystof-Bansley, and I’m from the Chicago suburbs. I have been teaching for 25 years now. Currently, I teach World Cultures and Geography at the junior high level.

Julie and I met on a tour to South Korea, and this is our second trip together. Fun fact: We have been to Asia, Africa, and Europe together, but never seen each other in North America! (We had flight cancellations and unexpectedly spent a night in Paris.)

I was fortunate enough to travel to my 38th country this summer. My travels were with Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO) this summer to Morocco. I’m already planning to travel with them again, as they have lots of tours to choose from.

Karen in Fez, Morocco.
Karen in Fez, Morocco.

TT: Thanks, Karen! Julie, what about you?

Julie: Hello! My name is Julie Cross, and I have been an educator for thirty years. I live in Minneapolis and currently teach World History and United States History in a suburb north of the Twin Cities. I am also the World Culture Club Advisor and the Student Exchange Advisor for my high school.

In the past I have traveled and learned in many different teacher programs in the U.S. and abroad, including South Korea, Germany, and California. This summer, I was fortunate to be part of a GEEO program, where I spent a magical two weeks in Morocco with thirteen other teachers and a spectacular driver and guide. Marrakesh Palace.

Julie in a beautiful doorway in Morocco.
Julie in a beautiful doorway in Morocco.

TT: Tell us about your Morocco teacher tour.

Karen: I’ve been fascinated with Morocco for as long as I can remember. A quote that resonates with me is by Ibn Battuta: “Traveling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Ibn Battuta was a Berber explorer who is believed to have traveled even more miles than Marco Polo.

Traveling to Morocco was eye-opening in so many ways. I anticipated hearing and seeing Arabic and French while on tour. I was surprised at the presence of Berber languages throughout the country. It was so educational to learn about the Berber people and to learn the complex history and amazing culture of Morocco. (Side note: Berbers are also called Amazigh in English.)

During the 2 weeks in Northern Africa, our tour group was guided by Sophia. She had a wealth of information about the entire country’s culture and geography. She is breaking barriers as well as most tour guides are male.

Unfortunately, I felt ill (possibly with food poisoning) during the middle of the trip, and Julie (who was my roomie) and Sophia took good care of me. Traveling can be exhausting and physically draining, however, it’s always worth it! 

Posing with fruit sellers in Morocco.
Posing with fruit sellers in Morocco.

TT: Julie, what was your experience traveling in Morocco?

Julie: With the GEEO program, teachers are offered reduced prices on tours in the United States and abroad, enabling me to travel to Morocco for two weeks. We traversed a circle around the country, starting in Casablanca and ending in Marrakech.

We covered a lot of ground, but Morocco is incredibly diverse in culture and topography. I am so grateful to GEEO tours for letting us see so much, from the Mediterranean Sea in Tangier on to the Sahara Desert, to the Atlas Mountains and Essaouira on the Atlantic coast.

Our accommodations were lovely, and our tour guide and local guides were very informative and thoughtful. We teachers were expertly educated and guided throughout.

I don’t think I could have experienced so much of Morocco on my own, from the historical sights we saw to language lessons on the bus! Our guide kept us informed about political, social and cultural topics of the area, creating a truly priceless trip.

Touring Chefchouen, the "Blue City."
Touring Chefchouen, the “Blue City.”

TT: How did you find this Morocco travel opportunity?

Karen: I was very lucky to find out about a tour company called GEEO. This tour company caters to teachers and features small groups that travel to many international locations.

I found this experience to be very educational and provided an opportunity for bonding with fellow travelers and educators. Our group was very close-knit and definitely shared many similar interests despite the fact that we teach different levels and  subject areas. As a long-time fan of this website,, I also want to mention that I’ve learned a lot from reading these articles written by traveling teachers.

TT: Aw, thanks! Julie, what about you?

Julie: I first heard about GEEO through a friend that I had traveled with in South Korea. She took the trip to Morocco the summer before me, and posted pictures on Facebook.

I was so intrigued by them that I decided I had to go! I not only have many Muslim students from the Northern part of Africa, but I teach about the spread of Islam to Morocco. I looked into other companies, but GEEO offered the best price and the most extensive guided tour.

It is also wonderful to travel with teachers and have the information geared to our needs. When I went to South Korea I traveled with World History Digital Foundation, which I learned about at a national conference.

I have found other trips by researching online and through word of mouth, especially at teacher conferences. The more active you are in your field by attending local conferences and classes, the more you will hear about national and international opportunities. The Facebook Group I would recommend is Scholarships, Grants, Summer Institutes, and Opportunities for Teachers, for which you will need approval by administrators of the group.

Posing in Fez, Morocco.
Posing in Fez, Morocco.

TT: How did you fund your Morocco trip?

Karen: I was extremely fortunate to receive a grant from the Qatar Foundation International. The Qatar Foundation International (QFI) offers many opportunities for students and teachers to learn more about Arab culture. 

The travel grant of $2,000 definitely helped pay a good portion of the trip to learn more about Arab culture and languages. I’ve learned about many scholarship opportunities through research and persistence with applying repeatedly. It can be a frustrating and time-consuming process, but it is extremely rewarding as well.

(See more on QFI grants here.)

Julie: I take on extra jobs at school so that I can augment my travel. I advise clubs and exchange students, but I also mentor and lead professional learning communities with teachers.

I use the money for summer travel, but I am also enriched by these extra activities. However, I would not be able to do these types of trips without companies like GEEO that reduce the costs so that teachers can travel.

I have also applied to other programs that cover a large part of the cost over the years. There are also many teacher travel grants, as Karen mentioned.

Enjoying the Moroccan beach.
Enjoying the Moroccan beach.

TT: Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly memorable.

Karen: One of the highlights of the trip was visiting a nomadic Berber family. We were able to see their home and better understand their way of life. Personally, I love the winding streets of Fez and Marrakech. You can get lost in them but lost in a good way!  The whole experience was beyond my expectations.

Julie: I really loved the smaller, less well-known cities. Tangier was beautiful! We saw Spain across the Mediterranean. The winding white streets go up and down hills and there is so much culture to be seen within them. This is a place where you can also learn about the Berbers, the indigenous culture before the Arabs arrived.

I also loved Chefchaouen, the blue city. It is so worth the hype on social media. I found these smaller, northern cities to be more temperate and bursting with personal charm. Casablanca and Marrakech are just not as easy to navigate. I could walk these smaller cities and get lost in the narrow streets and always find a story of local living.

Both cities also had large Jewish populations that migrated from persecution in Europe. It was so interesting to learn how the Jewish people influenced northern culture, and it was here they learned to develop the silver mines.

Some cities had Jewish sections of town, and Moroccans are proud of their Jewish influence. Jewish relatives of those that immigrated to the United States, or Israel, after WWII still come back to visit Morocco. The cultural enrichment of traveling in this country is enormous.

A Berber family.
A Berber family.

TT: Fascinating! How have your travels impacted you as a teacher and person?

Karen: My travels have impacted me in so many ways I’ve definitely become more open-minded, and my travels have encouraged me to continue lifelong learning. Through teaching World Cultures and Geography, I am able to use my travel stories and travel photos, as well as artifacts to enhance the lessons that I teach. I remember being inspired by two of my former teachers who love to travel, and now that I am an educator, I have to say that it’s amazing to become a traveling teacher.

Julie: I know that I would be a less informed teacher if I had not traveled. I bring my travel experiences to the classroom on a regular basis.

Traveling has broadened my perspective, but has also given me the personal stories that draw students in. I love the details about people and places and so do the students. So many students have told me they want to travel because of my influence.

I create new lesson plans with each trip and also use the cultural details, artifacts, and pictures in my World Culture Club at school. Teaching a subject is so much more fascinating if you can relate the material to experiential learning. I can’t wait to teach about Morocco this coming year.

Travel has also made me more aware of how small the world is and how we are all so alike in different ways. I really appreciate art and architecture, and try to incorporate the beauty of cultural expression into projects that create an emotional connection.

For example, Karen mentioned Ibn Battuta above. I show the students a video about his explorations every year in World History. As teachers we are mandated to be document based in our curriculum. We search for primary sources in each unit.

Teaching about my travels, and showing pictures from my trips, validates my craft. I can become a primary source and enhance those other voices that came before me. I can speak with some expertise on what soldiers at the DMZ in Korea experience.

I have walked through the trenches of Ypres in Belgium. I have visited Potsdam and the Bridge of Spies in Germany. In Vietnam I talked to people that had lived under Soviet Communism.

These are just a few of the travel experiences that pepper my curriculum. They have given me personal perspectives that I would never receive from a textbook. Truly, you need to walk in the shoes of others!

In the sand dunes of Morocco.
In the sand dunes of Morocco.

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel?

Karen: My advice to other teachers is to not give up when applying for travel grants and scholarships. I’ve definitely had to reapply for so many opportunities. I often need to think deeply about my application and what steps to take to improve my application and my teaching.

It’s important to focus on how the travels you undertake will ultimately benefit the students in your classroom. Personally, I was inspired by previous traveling teachers (thanks to Miss Johnson and Miss Williams!) and I hope that my travels inspire students to travel the world.

Julie: There are Facebook/Google sites for teacher travel seminars online. GEEO is nice because there are many tours offered, making it less competitive to get into than some of the teacher seminars that offer only one or two trips in the summer.

The requirement is that you have an action plan as to how to use the experience in the classroom. Talk to other teachers who have found teacher travel deals and start applying! Spend time on your application, and have others proofread. When you do get accepted, pack light, and research the area before you go!

TT: Thanks so much! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?


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Laura Gonzalez

Friday 8th of September 2023

QFI is no longer offering grants. :(

Laura Gonzalez

Friday 8th of September 2023

@Lillie Marshall, GEEO, Jesse I think. They’ve kept the site up, but I don’t think they’re monitoring it anymore. They never even responded to my application.

Lillie Marshall

Friday 8th of September 2023

Oh my! The "Grants" area of their site looks like it's still active -- could you please share where you heard they've paused their funding?

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