My Nephew’s College Plans: Turn Down All Those University Scholarships (for now)

My sharp-witted and bright nephew ~ Gabriel ~ called me today (Wednesday) to tell me he had a huge announcement: he would NOT be attending any of the incredible colleges he was accepted to (many that we toured together in Southern California) after high school graduation this June because…

(dramatic pause)

Then, the punch-line: he was just awarded a merit-based scholarship for the
U.S. Department of State‘s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) to learn Arabic (& study their culture) and will leave to Morocco this June for an entire year!

Congrats Gabriel!

I am so proud and delighted for him.

This is an incredible and exhilarating opportunity for Gabriel and outstanding news for our entire family!

After this amazing opportunity and unique experience, he can reapply next spring to universities with these stellar credentials.
On a more personal note: my nephew’s news renews my aspiration and enthusiasm to travel to Morocco.

I dream of traveling there each time I watch the classic film Casablanca.
I wanted and planned to go twice when I was in Lisbon in 2003 and 2005 (only 300 miles south), and contemplated it again while I was there in 2007. For many reasons my Moroccan daydreams didn’t materialize.

Here’s the teaser that seduced me from the opening narration of the 1942 film CASABLANCA:

With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up – Paris to Marseilles… across the Mediterranean to Oran… then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca… and wait… and wait… and wait.


CASABLANCA (1942): inspired me to travel to Morocco


I still envision Morocco, and the city of Casablanca (الدار البيضاء), in stark black and white.

I want to travel to this country so it will finally come to life in my mind and with my brilliant nephew as my guide, it will be extra awesome.

Thanks Gabriel!


3 responses to “My Nephew’s College Plans: Turn Down All Those University Scholarships (for now)

  1. this is very cool! great opportunity for Gabriel! I am proud of him! a little bummed for you though as i know you were looking forward to having him close. Even better now though…you can travel to Morocco! …and maybe in another year he will choose sunny SOCAL to finish his education! thanks for the post sis!

  2. Sarah Bela my dear,
    This is awesome news, go Gabriel. I remember when you guys were scouting the colleges last year. What a great opportunity and a great initiative by the government (even though they surely have hidden agendas) but that’s great for Gabriel AND for American service men and women who HAVE to know about the culture and language of other countries in order to do what they are trying to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. Plus these jobs are very well paid.

  3. UPDATE on my Nephew Gabriel en route to Morocco via NYC this weekend!~sb
    My brother/Gabriel’s Father posted: Gabe called from NJ and is doing fine and already is making friends with some of the people that he will be going with. He sounded happy. (more) We did not raise Gabe to be an American, we raised him to be a citizen of the world. I noticed during my own travels around the world that while Americans were busy running America, everyone else was busy running the world. Sure we have a hand in things but our efforts only extend to building our own interest versus doing it for the sake of the world. When I met Beth I used to talk about “rights,” my rights this and my rights that to which she would quote one of her undergrad professors, “there are no ‘rights’ there are only responsibilities.” It took me a few years to really understand what this meant but we raised Gabe to be “a part of” not “apart from.”
    I replied: Gabriel is certainly a citizen of the world!
    He is (& we are) inclusive, not exclusive.
    My mother/Gabriel’s Grandmother posted: National Security Language Institute for Youth.
    He’ll be there for 1 year learning Arabic (and likely French since his host family speaks that, too).
    My niece/Gabriel’s Sister posted: Actually family and friends aren’t allowed to see him from what Gabe told me.
    I added: i will miss him TOO! and i am considering chartering a boat or plane in Lisboa in six months that might mysteriously crash land on the beach where Gabriel and his host family live… otherwise, i won’t be able to see him for ONE YEAR because of the US Dept of State’s program rules!

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