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Moroccan Professors Get a Taste of Rockland County

Moroccan Professors Get a Taste of Rockland County

Patricia Szobonya, Dr. Larbi Toauf, Dr. Mohammed Guamguami, Catherine Roche and Eileen MacAvery Kane after a presentation on international online learning on November 2.

DATE: November 8, 2017

educators visit RCC as part of ongoing cross-cultural exchange

RAMAPO – Dr. Mohammed Guamguami and Dr. Larbi Touaf have been working in conjunction with Rockland Community College faculty for months, but had never stepped foot on campus. That changed on November 2, when the two professors from Mohammed I University in Morocco paid a visit to RCC as part on an ongoing cross-cultural exchange between the two schools.

The visiting educators came to RCC as guests of their partners in the SUNY Collaborative Online International Program, or COIL. Catherine Roche, RCC Professor of Business, is in the midst of her first collaboration with Dr. Guamguami, while Patricia Szobonya, Assistant Professor of Paralegal Studies and Criminal Justice, is working with Dr. Touaf for the second time. Both sets of professors created special “modules” that allow students at RCC to interact with Moroccan students online, and work together with them to complete class projects.

Dr. Guamguami and Dr. Touaf had a busy schedule for their visit. Both dropped in on RCC classes with their COIL partners to meet with students and then participated in an open forum to discuss their collaborations. In addition, Dr. Guamguami gave a special presentation about the teaching of English to non-native speakers.

The cultural exchange continued as Roche hosted the professors for a special Thanksgiving-style dinner at her home, prepared by RCC Hospitality students under the supervision of department chair Wendy Gordon. The next day, Roche escorted Dr. Guamguami for his first visit to Manhattan.

Prior to this visit, Roche, Szobonya and Eileen MacAvery Kane (instructor of art), all attended the first-ever Global Learning Conference, held in Chicago. The three RCC faculty members and their COIL partners made presentations and met with other educators participating in international learning projects.

RCC continues to explore the benefits of COIL, with earlier projects pairing Szobonya, MacAvery Kane and Dr. Shamika Mitchell, Assistant Professor of English, with university partners in Mexico. Dr. Mitchell also collaborated with a college in Egypt, while MacAvery Kane is working with a professor at Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa.

Shared international educational projects are of enormous value for today’s students, with collaborative and communication skills increasingly cited as a high value skillset for the 21st century workplace. Faculty members and students affirm the valuable experience of learning with people from other cultures. One student involved in a recent COIL project at RCC said, “What we know may be limited to a small area, but when you interact with different people that can change a lot in your life.” To learn more about COIL, visit

RCC will hold its Fall Admissions Open House on Tuesday, November 14. For more information, visit