Culture Corner: Learning through cultural differences



Hicham Jarkach, a Fulbright Scholar, shares his Moroccan culture with Mercyhurst.

Marina Boyle, Staff writer

Hicham Jarkach, Fulbright Scholar, is a native of Morocco who came to Erie in August.

He is sharing his culture through teaching at Mercyhurst this year. The Fulbright Scholar Program allows him to both teach and take courses in order to enhance his own education. He is currently teaching Arabic Studies as part of the World Languages and Cultures Department.

He is enjoying his time in the United States for many reasons, including the diversity of Mercyhurst. Jarkach loves to travel and discover new places, so he jumped at the opportunity to spend a year in Erie.

“I teach a lot of international students and I see a lot of backgrounds here,” said Jarkach. “Everyone is friendly to me and they always offer their help if you need something. Mercyhurst might be small, but it’s diverse. I’ve learned a lot of new teaching methods and techniques here as a result.”

Jarkach grew up and was educated in Marrakesh and moved to the United States in July 2017. One thing he finds very different is the food here.

In Morocco there is less of a focus on individualism. Eating involves cooking for others and sharing food with all the family. In contrast, Jarkach has found that there is more personal choice and convenience food in America. He misses Moroccan foods such as tajine, but loves hot dogs — something that is not so easy to find in Morocco.

Furthermore, Jarkach has discovered a lot of new teaching techniques, including the use of technology in the classroom.

“America is very up to date in this area and Mercyhurst has a lot of technological tools. I am really enjoying implementing technology into my classroom and seeing the benefits of these tools,” Jarkach said.

In addition, Jarkach loves learning about a variety of different cultures from his home in the United States. He says that Morocco is a very diverse country, but the United Sates is even more so.

“Diversity means more richness and creativity,” said Jarkach. “With variety, more things are cherished. Diversity is a richness if you know how to take care of it and bring it about.”

Jarkach enjoys traveling around the country and has attended many of the cultural festivals held in Erie on the weekends, such as the annual Polish festival, and the many musical events. He is amazed by how each place he visits is beautiful to him. Jarkach cherishes the fact that the tradition of family gathering and unity which he loved about Morocco is equally as prevalent in Erie, Pa.