As part of the graduate homeland security program, students are required to complete a homeland security-related study abroad experience. Although homeland security deals with protecting what is inside our borders, it is crucial to also have a cultural and geographical understanding of what lies beyond them. Every semester, students from our program take flight (literally) and explore foreign countries both near and far.

One of our second-year graduate students, Alexandria Levin, recently trekked to Morocco as part of a study abroad experience in which she volunteered for 2 weeks in partnership with International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ). During her time there, she assisted farmers in a rural village of the Amazigh (Berber) community called Tikhfest in an effort to improve their farming outcome. The work she did involved general animal husbandry, agriculture, and teaching Basic English to her host family. Recently she was also featured on their website with a photo of her harvesting wheat in her host family’s village which you can see here:

“I absolutely loved the time I spent in Morocco volunteering with IVHQ!” said Alexandria. “Not only was it an amazing experience to see an entirely new and different country, but having such a unique opportunity to work very closely with a non-English speaking village in the remote mountains of Morocco is a chance that many people will never have in their lifetime. I met many great people including my host family and fellow volunteers and gained a much greater cultural understanding of the Berber people and their lifestyle.”

Watch IVHQ volunteers abroad in Marakech, Morocco

As a volunteer with IVHQ, students have the unique opportunity to travel to their choice of 35 different countries with programs available in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Europe and the Pacific. Programs range from 1 to 24 weeks and include projects in child and animal care, teaching English, agriculture, conservation, sports, art and music, community development, NGO support, and many more.

These types of experiences are crucial for students to gain a broader cultural understanding and also to discover their potential role in Homeland Security as well as help students find a focus for their Thesis project. The mission of the Graduate Program in Homeland Security is to produce leaders from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds who can effectively and efficiently identify, design, and mobilize the appropriate community resources to prevent, deter, preempt, defend against, and respond to terrorist attacks and/or other critical incidents and emergencies on the local, regional, national and international levels.

Having experience working or volunteering abroad helps to prepare our future leaders for the work they will be doing that not only impacts our own community, but our global community as well. For more information on how you can study or volunteer abroad, you can talk with your graduate advisor or visit The SDSU Study Abroad page at