Morocco, Medicine, and More: Clarion U. Grad Students Participate in International Learning Experience

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion University graduate students Gina Mazzocchi and Mallory Hilinski gave a presentation to the Clarion Rotary about the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program’s study abroad trip to Oujda, Morocco, during the first two weeks of August.

Graduate students Gina Mazzocchi and Mallory Hilinski, along with six other students, participated in the international learning experience, entitled “Morocco, Medicine, and More,” led by Dr. Mark Lepore, Associate Professor and expert in crisis intervention.

Rotary Moroco Program
(Pictured above are Gina Mazzocchi, Mallory Hilinski, and Rotarian Kathy Glosser. Photo by Ron Wilshire)

The six graduate students who participated in the study abroad experience were Gina Mazzocchi, Mallory Hilinski, Matthew Veronesi, Lauresa Gulvas, Hannah Britten, and Deirdre Kwiatkowski. They were accompanied by Dr. Mark Lepore, Dr. Jeffrey Allen, Dr. Ellen Foster, and Dr. William Naugle.

Students had the opportunity to stay on campus at Mohammed I University and tour various buildings and facilities of the school of medicine. They also were able to spend time with medical students and professors from the facilities to learn more about the country of Morocco, its educational system, health care practices, culture, languages, and food.


During the 10-day experience, the students and faculty were introduced to the different departments of the teaching hospital, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Mohammed VI, including cardiology, neurology, dermatology, rehabilitation, and psychology. They were able to learn through a presentation by physicians at the hospital about the advances in medicine in Morocco as well as the challenges and barriers the country faces in this area.

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It was reported that due to the advances in medicine, they are able to identify more westernized diseases which are becoming more costly to treat. There have also been language barriers with medical students trying to learn about these diseases through the use of English textbooks. Additionally, they face challenges with stigma with mental illness as they currently only have one psychiatric hospital for the whole country of Morocco.

This teaching hospital has been known in Morocco to be the best hospital in the country as King Mohammed VI of Morocco himself has chosen to seek medical attention at the facility in the past. The hospital is fairly small; however, it is roughly a little larger than Clarion Hospital.


The students and faculty were also given a tour of other departments of the university such as language and humanities.

The graduate students from the clinical mental health counseling program at Clarion University also had the opportunity to present on their program as well as the work they currently do. The students were able to discuss their goals for working as future licensed mental health counselors to give insight on the type of mental health services that are available in the United States.


Similar to the westernization of medical practices, students and faculty quickly learned that the Moroccan culture with regards to clothing, music, and other interests was also fairly similar to theirs. They found that many of the medical students listened to the same kinds of music and watched the same television shows.

Students and faculty were taken on a tour to areas outside of Oujda including the Tafoghalt Caves, the seaside town of Saidia, and Forest of Sidi Maafa. They were also given time to browse and shop at the old Medina, a bazaar of traditional clothes, jewelry, fabrics, and other items made in Morocco.




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