Presidential Interns Feature Series: Bryan Cleveland



Each year we welcome an international cohort of recent graduates to Al Akhawayn’s community as Presidential Interns. They bring unique experiences, educational backgrounds, and skills to their work in departments throughout the university. This week, we are pleased to introduce Bryan Cleveland!


Bryan is serving as a Presidential Intern for the Health Center and the Interfaith Office. Originally from Natick, Massachusetts, he graduated from Tufts University with degrees in International Relations and French. In the Health Center at AUI, he completes administrative tasks – helping keep things organized, compiling reports and statistics on patients, and assisting with insurance matters. He enjoys his time there, especially as he gets to speak French with his coworkers, and they are (slowly, but surely) teaching him some Darija. At the Interfaith Office, he works closely with the Interfaith Alliance and Mimouna student clubs. He helps organize events and activities for the clubs and for the whole AUI community, centered around exploring different perspectives and inter-religious dialogue. He's grateful to work closely with students and has learned a lot about interfaith dialogue this semester, especially in the context of AUI.


How did you first learn about AUI and what drew you to the Presidential Internship?

I first learned about AUI just by searching for jobs abroad on the internet, which isn't that exciting of a story. I was looking to work in a new country, and the Presidential Internship seemed like a really great match. My goals for this year were to gain more international experience and try to learn a new language, so this position seemed perfect because I could benefit from all the opportunities offered at the university while working and learning here in Morocco.


What’s one of your best experiences in Morocco so far?

I've had so many great moments already in Morocco in just two and half months. One of my favorites happened recently while teaching my English conversation class to students at the Language Center. It was almost Halloween, so I thought I'd share a little bit about American culture by watching excerpts from Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. It was funny to watch it with my students because I remember watching it every year around Halloween when I was little with my older sister. They all laughed when Lucy pulled away the football and Charlie Brown fell over and had some interesting opinions on whether they liked the tv show or not. Even though I've had lots of exciting adventures in Morocco so far as well, one of the things I am enjoying the most about being here is sharing parts of my culture with others and learning in return from them about theirs.


What do you work towards in your free time?

I really love music. I play piano and studied music theory and jazz throughout high school and college, so I was definitely looking to be involved and play music while here at AUI. As soon as I got here, I found great opportunities that put me a little out of my comfort zone musically. My supervisor at Interfaith, Karen Thomas Smith, invited me to play piano for the Sunday worship service she runs. I've never really played music in that setting before, so it was a new and exciting. Now, every Sunday, I learn 5 new songs and perform them with everyone singing along. I also found the Rhythm Unity student club on campus. It's a group of really talented musicians at AUI that come from all sorts of different musical backgrounds, and I've been able to collaborate and jam with other students on everything from Jimi Hendrix blues songs to more current R&B music.


What’s your dream job?

I'm interested in working in the field of international sustainable development. I've had the opportunity to intern at some really great NGOs and other organizations, and I've really enjoyed that work. I'm passionate about working towards a more equitable world, and I think that I'm able to gain some valuable experience for that career path by being here at Al Akhawayn University.


What songs/artists are you currently listening to?

I'm always listening to an eclectic mix of different music at the same time. I like so many different styles of music, and I feel like they all inspire and resonate with me in different ways. Recently, I've found some really great albums that I'll just listen to all the way through. I really like Bon Iver's new album i,i. It's got this kind of ethereal sound throughout, and the music goes between these soft delicate parts and big swells that makes it really nice. There’s a video put out by New York Times about how he made one of the songs, which always makes me like a song even more. I don't even know what genre to classify his music as, but I think if you give it a try you might like it. The other album I like a lot right now is SiR's Chasing Summer. It's an R&B/hip hop album, and it always makes my head bob when I listen. I also recently discovered some new music from going to the Sufi Festival in Fes with the Interfaith Alliance. They had some really great Arab music mixed with Andalusian music because there was a flamenco guitarist and singer there as well. It was such a cool mix, and I'd never heard anything like that before, especially a live performance!