Meet Our Director
Melissa Topacio Long has over 10 years of experience in global and experiential education. In 2014, she founded ImprintEd Abroad, which crafts immersive educational programming in Morocco and strives to create authentic student experiences through activities and dialogue with locals. Melissa approaches study abroad programming as an opportunity to maximize intercultural exchange as well as to encourage the development of empathy and leadership skills in both participating students and their local hosts.
Melissa’s introduction to study abroad was during a high school summer program in France, and she later spent a semester in France while earning her B.A. in English from Lewis and Clark College. She went on to lead high school and university programs in France. From 2011 to 2013, she worked as resident director for a U.S. Department of State program for high school students in Marrakech, Morocco. During this time, Melissa completed her M.A. in International Education through the School for International Training, focusing her research on the impact that hosting American students had on Moroccan host siblings.
In April 2017, she sailed with Semester at Sea from Ghana to Morocco as an Interport Lecturer, speaking to the shipboard community about Moroccan culture and current events. In July 2017, Melissa taught entrepreneurial leadership at the African Leadership Academy’s Global Scholars Program.
Melissa's ancestors came from the Philippines and Europe, and she grew up on the land of the Coastal Salish and Lummi people. She has lived in France and Morocco as well as traveled, studied, and worked on five continents. She speaks English, French, and Spanish and is learning Moroccan Arabic.
Meet Current and Past Program Leaders and Cultural Facilitators
Essaadia was born and raised in a small village in the south of Morocco, and moved to Agadir to finish her education. She earned a B.A. in English linguistics. She founded an organization in her village focusing on the development of rural women and girls through literacy classes and skills-building workshops. Essaadia and her team are starting a water project which will provide enough water for the people in the town.
In the summer of 2018, Essaadia was among 9 Moroccan students chosen by the U.S. Embassy to travel to the U.S. for a leadership program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative Program. Over 6 weeks, she participated in extensive leadership and civic engagement classes and began developing a social project to implement Morocco. She was also selected to attend a student festival in Norway focusing on migration. She has experience as an English tutor and volunteers with abandoned children in Agadir. In her free time, she enjoys engaged with visitors to Morocco by organizing cultural events and trips around Agadir.
Hailing from Ouled Teima, Nadia has experience working in women's and youth empowerment, and she thrives in intercultural working environments. In 2018, Nadia joined EVS-Erasmus Plus program in Turkey/Mus to support the Genc Birikim Dernegi Association, which specialized in youth development programs and supports cancer patients. In 2017, Nadia worked as project coordinator for the Empowering Women of the Atlas Initiative, and, in this role, she supported the income generating activities of women's cooperatives in 5 villages in the Atlas region. In 2014, Nadia served as a CorpsAfrica volunteer in the High Atlas Mountains, focusing on empowering women to make social, educational and political decisions in their community.
Nadia studied English literature at Ibn Zohr University. She was one of the co-founders of the local Linguistics Club. She has volunteered as an English tutor for high school students and as a literacy tutor for adult women; additionally, she was a Grassroots Soccer Coach, working to engage and empower youth in order to stop the spread of HIV.
Born and raised in the city of Fes, Soumaya is a student at Cornell University in Ithaca New York, studying Computer Science and Economics. In 2014, she was one of the six Moroccan students accepted into the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg South Africa to take part in a two year program with talented students from all over the African continent. In the Academy, she was chairlady of the Honor Council, captain of the girls' Basketball team and she was CEO of a student enterprise called Angaza, a nonprofit enterprise that designs, manufactures, and distributes educational games.
During her summers, Soumaya has led, organized and facilitated multiple training and leadership programs for students in Morocco, South Africa and Slovakia. Soumaya is passionate about education and game design and she wishes to help reshape the Moroccan educational system by introducing educational games in elementary schools.
Passionate about deaf education, Zahra taught herself Moroccan sign language. She was a volunteer at the Association for the Protection of the Deaf in Agadir, where she taught English and Mental Arithmetic. She has a B.A. in English Linguistics from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. In 2016, Zahra was one of 14 Moroccan young women who were selected to participate in the Let Girls Learn program, an ititiative of Michelle Obama. She met with Mrs. Obama in Morocco and in Washington, D.C. to share with Mrs. Obama her perspective on girls’ education in Morocco.
Zahra has been selected by the U.S. Fulbright program to pursue an M.A. in deaf education at Rochester Institute of Technology's National Technical Institute for the Deaf in New York for the 2018-2019 school year. Her hobbies include reading, travel and photography.
Bilal is constantly driven to put himself in new educational situations and strives to be a life-long learner. He is passionate about learning about other cultures and sharing information about his own culture. He is an experienced English teacher to students of all ages. As a language and cultural facilitator for the United States Peace Corps, his responsibilities included teaching Arabic and supporting American Peace Corps volunteers as they adapted to living in a village in Morocco's Middle Atlas Region. He was previously a manager of the Marrakech American Corner and organized and facilitated events for university students.
Though he comes from the region of Ouarzazate, Bilal has lived, studied, and worked all over Morocco. Bilal earned his Master’s degree in linguistics and advanced English at Marrakech's Cadi Ayyad University. He earned his Bachelor's degree in English Linguistics from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. His hobbies are hiking and theatre. He is a native speaker of Arabic and Tamazight.
Hajare believes in putting the issues of minorities at the heart of cultural development, and in forwarding the causes of these communities through media representation. With a background in media studies and journalism, she attempts to highlight women's struggles in Morocco between society, culture and the law. In 2015, Hajare worked for the Women's Engagement Network, which was the result of a partnership between the Hillary Rodham Clinton Centre for Women's Empowerment and the Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative; in this role she facilitated online training and workshops for semi-literate rural women's cooperatives in the Atlas region.
Hajare earned her Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies and Gender Studies from Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. She has published many articles on Morocco and was a journalist intern at Maghreb Arab Press and the Moroccan House of Representatives. She will pursue her Masters degree in Documentary at Liverpool John Moores University beginning in 2019.