Indiana State University Newsroom

Spring Break: ISU students, faculty travel to help Morocco's fledgling social work profession

March 2, 2007

As an alternative to the typical spring break, 13 students and two professors from Indiana State University are traveling to Morocco to provide training and resources for a new profession in that country – social work.

The group departed today (March 2) from the Indianapolis airport and is headed to Hassan II University-Mohammedia in Morocco, which will host them.

“This was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, and they made it very affordable for us,” said Michelle Yocum, senior social work major of Casey, Ill., who is working a 20-hour-a-week internship this semester at the Vermillion County office of the Indiana Department of Child Services in Newport. “The social work profession is brand new for their country, so we are going over there to help them, through the relationship between our two universities.”

With the expert assistance of ISU’s social work department and its interim chair Robyn Lugar, assistant professor of social work, Hassan II University started teaching its very first social work classes this past fall.

Lugar is making her third trip to Morocco this spring break, with her signature boxes of textbooks in tow.

“We will be taking over 1,000 pounds of textbooks with us for Hassan II University’s new social work program,” Lugar said.

Lugar and her boxes of textbooks are famous. While helping to establish the social work program at Tambov State University in Russia, Lugar and her students lugged pounds of textbooks on every trip over a 10-year period, so that now, Tambov State has an English textbook collection that is the only one of its kind in that part of the world.

The agenda for the Morocco trip includes lending academic and professional support to the fledgling social work program.

“While there, I will be doing a two-day training for more than 300 social service agency leaders and administrators; and our students are bringing information regarding U.S. agencies and how they do assessments,” Lugar said. “The students also will be making presentations to the social work students at Hassan II University, attending joint classes with them, and meeting with a local women’s agency to share information about their internship field work.”

ISU students will have the unique opportunity to observe the formation of the social work profession in Morocco when they visit local orphanages and other social service agencies. There will be time for a cultural exchange as well, when the group visits sites of significance in Rabat, Casablanca and Marrakech, Lugar said.

Accompanying the social work students are two students and one professor from the ISU psychology department. The group will return March 11.


Interviews: Robyn Lugar and the students are available over e-mail for interviews while in Morocco,

Writer/Contact: Katie Spanuello, media relations assistant director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3790 or