Kirsten Mullin ‘19 Wins Fulbright to Morocco
The recent political science major and economics minor will use her award to study the relationship between local and international non-governmental organizations.
When Kirsten Mullin ‘19 heads to Morocco to begin a year of research abroad funded by a Fulbright Award, it won’t just be a rare academic opportunity, but a culmination of a journey that was set in motion five years ago.
Back in 2017, the political science major and economics minor received a grant from Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) that enabled her to spend the summer in Sefrou, Morocco, working at the Cherry Buttons Women's Cooperative and conducting research on Moroccan family law. It was the first significant time Mullin had spent abroad, and she not only fell in love with Morocco, but also pivoted her academic plans based on her experiences there. She threw herself into French language study upon her return to campus and decided to make a career in international affairs.
Since graduating from Haverford in 2019, she has lived in Tunisia, teaching English at the Canadian School of Tunis, and started a job at InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working on a project to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation and abuse by and of humanitarian and development workers.
“Applying for a Fulbright in Morocco felt full circle,” said Mullins. “I think the Fulbright really looks for you to demonstrate you have knowledge and passion for the region you're applying in. So, my experience in Tunis combined with the CPGC grant made Morocco the perfect fit!”
Mullin’s new adventure in North Africa will take her to Tangier, where, inspired by her current job, she will research the relationship between local and international NGOs in Morocco in the hopes of being able to provide recommendations on how to strengthen it.
“In the international NGO world this is known as ‘localization’—the process by which international entities, like donors or NGOs, shift power to local actors and community-based organizations,” she said. “... Localization is a really important topic in the sector right now, and organizations are trying to figure out how to strengthen partnerships with community-based organizations to make aid and development work more effective. I think it is a really exciting development, and I wanted to contribute to it with this research.”
She is eager to return to the site of her first formative travel and research experience while putting into practice her NGO work experience. She plans to visit her host family in Sefrou, with whom she has kept in touch over the past five years, and to see more of Morocco than she was able to on her first visit.
“Morocco is such a unique country, because it has the Mediterranean, the Sahara Desert and the Atlas Mountains,” said Mullin. “I can't wait to explore it all!”
Upon her return stateside, Mullin plans to continue working in the NGO sector, perhaps finding an intersection of her localization research with her current work related to sexual exploitation and abuse prevention.
She is grateful for the opportunity to return to Morocco, and for the Center support that allowed her to discover the country in the first place.
“I would really like to stress how critical my grant from the CPGC was in shaping my career and getting me here,” said Mullin. “I genuinely don't know if I would have ended up in a career in international affairs without it, and I know for a fact I would not have received a Fulbright grant to Morocco without it. … So I really just want to thank the CPGC for everything it does, because it is such a great and unique resource for Haverford students!”