Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 3, 2013

The U.S. Department of State has selected Paul Heck of the United States as May’s International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month. Throughout May, Heck’s leadership in fostering mutual understanding will be recognized on the International Exchange Alumni website, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ official website for the more than one million Department-sponsored exchange alumni worldwide. Each month, the Bureau’s Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, confers this award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna.

Heck participated in a 2008 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in which he was the first non-Muslim lecturer on the role of religion in the United States at Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco. During the program, Heck built strong relationships with fellow professors and exchange alumni that led him to establish a U.S.-Morocco interfaith exchange program. Through the trust and mutual respect fostered between Heck and Professor Dr. Mohammed Amine Smaili, a professor of Islamic studies and an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) alumnus, Heck was able to initiate a religious studies exchange program.

In the United States, Heck collaborated with U.S. Embassy Rabat to launch the religious studies exchange program between graduate students of Georgetown University and Mohammed V University. The program, which has already hosted more than 20 religious scholars from the two countries, aims to promote religious understanding across cultures and shape global religious thinking in the 21st century. This exchange features seminars and presentations, as well as site visits, cultural activities, and intensive scholarly conversations about religious traditions. Finally, scholars that participate in the exchange program, as well as other religious scholars around the world, receive continued support through conversations on Heck’s Study of Religions Across Civilizations website, a source of “scholarly companionship.”

To learn more about Paul Heck, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website at

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PRN: 2013/0510