Presidential Interns Feature Series: Emily Wang
Introducing the 2020-2021 Presidential Intern Cohort. In this feature series, AUI presents one of the five interns working at Al Akhawayn University this year. The interns come from a variety of backgrounds and each brings their own skillsets to their respective offices. The AUI internship program (PIP) is a post-graduate professional development opportunity aimed at giving recent graduates from a liberal arts background international work experience while also providing the AUI community with the opportunity to benefit from the exchange of cultures and ideas that a diversified international community can provide.
The intern featured this month is Emily Wang. Emily Wang is the Presidential Intern for the AUI Re-Accreditation Project. She grew up in New Jersey, then attended the University of Mississippi, studying international studies, Arabic, and Chinese. While studying abroad in college, Emily lived in Egypt, Jordan, the U.A.E., China, Singapore and Malaysia, and completed an exchange semester at AUI in Fall 2018. (These experiences inspired her senior graduation thesis on Uyghur Muslims - feel free to ask!) Despite Covid-19, Emily hopes for new adventures and travel soon, and she is super excited to return to and give back to the AUI community.
Emily, tell us a little about yourself:
I’m a new Presidential Intern who just arrived in January. I’m super excited to return to AUI—I was an exchange student here in Fall 2018—especially because Ifrane is one of the most unique, picturesque towns in the world. I’ve gotten to catch up with old friends and professors since returning, and I’m super excited to be here for the next few months. All the other interns have been wonderful, and I’m quickly settling into my new routine. This semester, I’m taking a French course—I'd love to practice with anyone who has a little time!
As a student, you gained quite a bit of international experience. What drew you to return to Morocco out of all the countries that you’ve traveled to?
I think I’m extremely fortunate to have traveled a lot the past few years with opportunities that I was able to take because of studying international studies. However, I would return to most (if not all) of the countries I’ve been to—specifically because I’m drawn to people, not places. AUI was an extremely welcoming community to me, and I’m so glad to have an opportunity to give back to the University. At the same time, Morocco often feels like a second home to me. I know the streets of Ifrane too well, maybe, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been in Morocco for a decade. If you add all the months up though, it’s been less than a year—which surprises me so much. I’m about to hit one full year though (adding all the months up)—yay, milestones!
What kind of work do you do as a Presidential Intern at AUI? What does a typical work week look like?
Everyone keeps asking me what campus department I’m working for – but I’m actually working on the University’s re-accreditation project, which isn’t a “department,” but a committee formed to help the University receive NECHE accreditation again. The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) is an accreditation agency based in Massachusetts in the U.S., and it helps educational institutions identify their strengths and weaknesses and improve based on that analysis. The actual “identification” of strengths of weaknesses is up to the institution itself – we write our own self-study – so I’m coordinating to help different departments within the University to collect documents and write about changes to the University since 2017 (the last accreditation – when NECHE was still called NEASC). Because of this, I’m in a lot of meetings, but I’m also in my office poring over documents from all over the University. It’s a really interesting process because I get to learn a lot about the University from within, and I also get to collaborate with very interesting and insightful people. Eventually, I’ll also be reviewing the self-study when it’s completed; it'll be cool to it when it’s finished because it’s such a huge project with so many university faculty, staff and students working on it.
What is one thing that you haven’t had the chance to experience in Morocco that you would like to before the end of your internship?
I’m not sure that I’ll actually get to—I’ve always been an avid skier, and I’ve really wanted to go skiing at Michlifen. It’s not that there’s anything particularly special about the slopes—I’m nearly positive it’s a very, very bunny slope crowded with too many kids—but I’ve seen so many pictures of friends there that I’ve really wanted to see it for myself. In 2018, there was never enough snow before the end of the fall; this year, there’s plenty of snow but also Covid-19. Maybe I’ll get to one day though—Ifrane keeps drawing me back without me even expecting it.
What is one fun fact about yourself that people might find surprising?
I love to cook food, and my Moroccan friends often find it surprising that there are a lot of Moroccan dishes that I cook for myself. Bid ou maticha, tajine, harira, bisara, loubia, harcha—these are all some of my favorite things to cook for myself. Something I haven’t made is couscous—there's so much steaming involved to make it properly, and just the idea of it is super intimidating to me. Maybe, with some help, I’ll be able to try it once while I’m here.