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Spring Break 2020 in Southern Spain and Morocco


Islam: Distinguishing Religion from Culture through the Lens of Christianity

February 28 – March 8, 2020

Join us over spring break for an international trip to explore Islamic art, geometric design, and architecture in Morocco and Spain, and appreciate Arabic, African, French, and Spanish cultures. Briefing and reception with cultural attaché­—U.S. Embassy in Rabat. Participants will visit rich historic sites and interact with professors, politicians, and religious leaders in addition to enjoying the beauty, food, and hospitality in Morocco and Spain.

Students and Non-Students Welcome!

This tour will be conducted in collaboration with Imam M. Bashar Arafat, President of the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation. 

Who is this for?

ChefchaouenAny Loyola student, staff, faculty member or their relative and friend who seeks to explore the cultural and religious integration through architecture and arts; and who is interested in religious studies, international studies, cross-cultural and international relations programs. This study program will deepen participants’ understanding of both Christian and Islamic practices, as well as cultural traditions that exist in the two societies. They will have first-hand experiences with their culture, faiths and daily activities of the people.

How to Apply

Al Hambra-GranadaEmail completed application to Fr. Bao Nguyen, S.J. at Spots will be given on a first come, first served basis. There are 30 spots available. A non-refundable deposit of $500 is due by November 30, 2019 to confirm your place in the program. Final payment of remaining amount will be due January 24, 2020.

A minimum of 16 participants is required in order to run this study tour.

Morocco Application

What's Included

The cost of the trip is $3,575.

Goat treeTransportation

  • Flight tickets from the USA to Madrid (MAD), and Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) back to the U.S.
  • Ferry to Tangier
  • All transfers and sightseeing stated in program by private air-conditioned transportation


  • Double occupancy rooms at 3 or 4-star hotels (single occupancy available for an additional fees)


  • Daily breakfast and a second meal of either lunch or dinner

Onsite Support

  • Onsite support with a Loyola Office of International Programs staff member, Fr. Bao Nguyen, S.J. 
  • Emergency travel insurance

Not Included in the Program

  • Meals and drink other than specified in the itinerary
  • Other personal expenses not mentioned nor specified in the tour program
  • Tips
  • Personal travel insurance

Preliminary Itinerary

Date Schedule
Friday, Feb. 28 Departure from the U.S.A. to Madrid, Spain (MAD)
Saturday, Feb. 29

Arrival to Madrid, travel to Cordoba, check-in, tour the city Torre de Calahorra. CECF lecture/discussion. Dinner program with the local community

Sunday, March 1

Cordoba: Leisurely morning, attend Sunday Mass at the Baroque Cathedral and continue with a guided tour inside the historic Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba complex (Mezquita-Catedral De Cordoba). Later afternoon, travel to Granada. Dinner and check-in.

Monday, March 2 Granada - Tour the Old City and Alhambra Palace, Lunch, Free time and Visit to the Granada Mosque
Tuesday, March 3 Depart for Algeciras, Ferry to Tangier, Check-in, Visit the Tomb of Ibn Battuta, Dinner and Free time
Wednesday, March 4 Tangier - Visit St. Andrew’s Church, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and Grand Sooq (Market), Late Afternoon. Travel to Fez and Check-in
Thursday, March 5 Fez - Visit the Old City and its rich, historic educational center, Al Quraween Mosque, Travel to Rabat, Check-in
Friday, March 6 Meeting at the U.S. Embassy, observe Friday Service, Program with local leaders and educators of Mohammed V University “Distinguishing Religion from Culture in Morocco;” dinner with a Moroccan family.
Saturday, March 7 Travel to Casablanca, Check-in, Tour Old Medina and Hassan II Mosque, Dinner on The Corniche and Free time
Sunday, March 8 Depart for the USA


Fr. Bao Nguyen, S.J., Ph.D. 

Traditional Musicians in Morocco Culture in Madrid

Market in Morocco Building in Morocco

Program Leaders

Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat, PhD, Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF), 410-944-6077 

Born and raised in Syria, graduate of Islamic Law “Shari’ah” from Damascus University and Islamic Studies & Arabic Language from the Islamic Call University in Damascus. He served as an Imam in Damascus, Syria from 1981 to 1989. He was invited to the U.S. to serve as Imam of the Islamic Society of Baltimore from 1989 to 1993. He has taught Islamic Studies and Culture at several colleges and universities in Maryland, including the College of Loyola University Maryland, Ecumenical Institute of Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Johns Hopkins University and other colleges and universities. He served as the Campus Imam at Johns Hopkins University from 1993 to 2003, Adjunct Chaplain at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 2000 to 2003 and the Muslim Chaplain for the Baltimore Police Department from 1998 to 2006. He is President of the Islamic Affairs Council of Maryland and the Founder & President of Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation (CECF).

Since 2005, Imam Arafat has visited over 40 countries through the “International Speakers Program” at the U.S. Department of State to lecture on the subject, “Islam & Muslims in America.” He was invited to Spain & Morocco through the U.S. Embassies in Madrid and Rabat, in which several universities and religious institutions in both countries were involved. He laid the foundation with Al Quraween University in Fes and Al Hasan II in Casablanca and institutions in Spain for the upcoming program with Loyola University Maryland and other universities. He will serve as the primary interpreter to Arabic for the delegation. 

Imam Arafat previously led delegations to Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Spain, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. 

Rev. Bao Nguyen, S.J., Ph.D.

Loyola University Maryland,, 410-617-7088

Rev. Nguyen received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Higher education from the School of Education—Boston College, a Sacred Theology License (STL) and Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from the School of Theology and Ministry—Boston College, a Master of Art in Social Philosophy (M.A.) from Loyola University Chicago, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Business in Accounting (BBA) from the University of Houston. 

He is currently the Assistant Director of International Programs and Coordinator of International Jesuit Collaborations for Loyola University Maryland. He is also Founder and Director of Formation Support for Vietnam—Non-profit organization and a Coordinator, Consultant and Representative for the Vietnamese Catholic Bishops and Major Superiors in Vietnam (2006- Present). 

From his early university years, Rev. Nguyen was quite active in a number of capacities such as a chaplain, mentor, computer tutor, teacher of Catholic Catechism for Confirmation, spiritual director, volunteer in a soup kitchen and more. 

Rev. Nguyen is interested in international education, administration and supervision, non-profit educational institutes, ecclesiastical theological foundations, student affairs, campus ministry, Catholic tradition, global curriculum, especially Ignatian pedagogy in higher education, and educational development in international communities. He is also interested in educational system in developing countries and cross-cultural issues. 

CECF is dedicated to fostering cooperation rather than confrontation among people of different religions and cultures and to creating better understanding between the East and the West through face-to-face dialogue and visits.


Contact Us

Phone: 410-617-2910
Office: Humanities 132

Additional contact information


In order to apply, all students must attend a Study Abroad 101 (Powerpoint) session before the application deadline. The application deadline for all Fall, Spring, and year-long opportunities during academic year 2024-25 is December 11, 2024.

The deadline for opportunities taking place during academic year 2025-26 will be announced during the Spring 2024 semester.

Study Abroad 101 (Powerpoint)