Hi Maggie! I am an NSLI 10 Summer Arabic alumni, and I was placed in Marrakech like you! First of all, congratulations. Secondly, no worries, you should guarantee your parents that as long as the website Andrea posted designates Morocco as safe to travel to, you will be quite safe there. The US does not want to send its citizens anywhere it doesn't seem safe, and of course the US will go to great lengths to accurately place countries if they are completely safe or not.
Your parents must be concerned, like any other parents would be, about your safety to a country adjacent to the 'Arab Spring' revolution countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, etc. and while there have been a few protests in Morocco they haven't been too major, most Moroccans are supportive of their government, and the protests were only to urge for constitutional reform - not like a coup d'etat in anyway. They love their king. Also, Morocco and the US have quite friendly relations (even from the beginning of our history - Morocco was the first to recognize the US as a sovereign territory after independence) and you will be welcomed quite nicely by the host family, educators, peers, friends and citizens.
So maybe your parents are concerned not just about the political upheaval that is going on in Arab countries, but about Moroccan society in general. Morocco, you have to understand, is very dependent on tourism. The government even orders most buildings of Marrakech to be painted red to be appealing to tourists! So, the lifestyle of many depends on visitors to the country, and thus visitors are respected. Arabs and Berbers, the people who make the framework of Morocco, are very hospitable people, and they will respect you and go to great lengths to be respectful. But of course, it is expected that others will respect their culture as well. Women may have some difficulty traversing the labyrinthine alleys of Marrakech and other Moroccan cities because of the conservative culture, but I assure you, with preparation, patience and awareness you will be fine. Make sure to pack modest clothing, scarves for when you might venture into mosques and synagogues, and sunglasses are great to avoid the gaze of men on the street. Whenever you get unwanted attention, do not respond to it. It is best to ignore it, like the Moroccan women in the country do as well. While I am not the best resource for a woman's journey in Morocco, I am letting you know what I have learned from my experience there and from young women in our group last summer. It is best to ask one of them for further help should you need it. :) But I assure you, Morocco is pretty safe, there should be no worry, also the Legacy Int'l staff and the staff at the Arabic school are very friendly and care most about your safety while in Morocco. They are always available to help. They also provide you with a free cellphone while there and money for minutes and messages. Good luck :)
Hi Maggie! I'm Maddy, one the Community Leaders for the NSLI-Y page here on ExchangesConnect. I went to Morocco for the summer in 2009 (the year before Salman- what a copy cat!).
First of all, CONGRATULATIONS on your acceptance! I'm sure you realize what a big accomplishment this is, and you should be proud of yourself!
I'd definitely like to echo Salman's comments-- the State Department would never send its citizens, much less high school students, to live & study in unsafe regions of the world. Furthermore, all hosting & sending organizations have systems in place to keep your parents up-to-date about what NSLI-Y students are up to in their host countries.
While I can only speak for the summer program in which I participated, there was near constant communication with my family back home while I was in Morocco. Students were given cell phones, and computers were available at our school. Additionally, my host family had a computer, so I was able to Skype home a few times, write emails, and check my Facebook. While I definitely don't recommend staying TOO in contact with the States while you're abroad, it's reassuring (especially for parents) to know that both parties can still contact one another if need be. For example: there was a family emergency back home while I was in Morocco, and my parents were quickly able to contact me via email & we were able to communicate. The Legacy International staff helped make this possible.
To elaborate on being a female in Morocco- I NEVER felt it was any more "dangerous" than being a male! In the Middle East, as I'm sure you know, it is customary to dress more conservatively than we would in America. In my opinion, and I'm sure my fellow Arabic students will echo this, if you dress appropriately, you will not draw undo attention to yourself. Legacy International will explain the rules and guidelines of the program in greater detail during your pre-orientation.
I'm lucky to have parents who are incredibly supportive of my goals to study Arabic and desire to go abroad, so if your parents would like to talk to any other adults who have been in this situation, please feel free to friend and message me. My mom is always willing to talk to parents!