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U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command


U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Camp Lejeune, NC

The Saga of Raja

By Sgt. Steven King | | March 31, 2009

The Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Arabs respected its culturally rich civilization. Some of history’s most prominent writers such as Pierre Loti, William S. Burroughs and Paul Bowles commented on its beauty, music, and literary legacy. But U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command has another reason to appreciate the Kingdom of Morocco. It produced for them their chief instructor of Arabic and French linguistic studies, Raja Bachra.

Bachra was born just a few miles south of Casablanca, Morocco. Her father was an engineer and her mother an educator. Bachra credits her parents for a love of learning and attention to detail embraced to this day by her and her three siblings.

“My parents had strong beliefs about education,” said Bachra. “They believed that education is the path to success. I learned from them that through diligent study, one can learn to consistently think outside of the box and to value logical decisions over blind emotional responses.”

Bachra’s love for learning led her to achieve a bachelor’s degree in bilingual teaching from the Regional Pedagogical Center of Bilingual Studies in Morocco, and a dual bachelor in language and finance from Western Illinois University. She is also pursuing a Master’s in Business Administration from Boston University.

“I would love to someday earn my Ph. D.,” said Bachra. “My pursuit of knowledge is, in some ways, a pursuit of my own personal legend.”

While her familial environment fostered a love for learning, it was her overall Moroccan environment that fostered an appreciation for diverse cultures.

“Throughout history, Morocco has hosted a wide range of people and cultures,” said Bachra. “The Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Sub-Saharan Africans, the Romans, the Moors, and the Arab peoples have all had an impact on the social structure and culture of Morocco. Growing up in this blended atmosphere of dialects and traditions piqued my interest in travel and foreign cultures.”

Bachra’s interest in travel has taken her to many countries including France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Mexico and now the U.S.

“I love traveling and experiencing various cultures,” said Bachra. “My educational background gave me knowledge about other countries, but I wanted to experience them for myself because it is my belief that knowledge alone won’t help me make a difference in the world. School provides a person with facts which in turn gives them knowledge, but travel provides a person with experience which in turn gives them wisdom.”

Through her experiences abroad Bachra realized a certain truth about herself - that she had the heart of a teacher.

“I love to teach,” said Bachra. “One could say that teaching is the final stage in the personal development process of a human being. If schooling provides knowledge, and experience provides wisdom, then teaching leads to the mastership of a subject.”

Bachra taught French and Arabic in Morocco for six years before she decided to move to the United States in order to seek new opportunities. Her search would eventually lead her to the MARSOC Foreign Language Office who, at the time, was looking to increase their number of qualified language instructors. Bachra’s extensive education and teaching background made her an obvious choice for MARSOC. She had the knowledge, experience and teaching passion that MARSOC was looking for in a language instructor.

“I don’t believe in luck,” said Bachra. “I believe that when preparation meets opportunity it creates favorable circumstances. Through years of study and diligence I prepared myself and sharpened my language abilities. MARSOC then provided me the opportunity and the result was a job that I am honored to have…teaching U.S. Marines.”

Bachra’s commitment to training Marines and her creativity in the classroom is recognized by her co-workers.

“Raja is a great asset to this office and we are pleased to have her,” said Vicky Sweeney, Unit Language Coordinator. “Our instructors must bring their own teaching style and creativity to the classroom. Raja has done that and more. She is truly everything that this office both wants and needs in a language instructor.”

“I’m just happy to a part of the MARSOC team,” said Bachra. “When it’s all said and done, I want my life to have made a difference. [U.S. President] Ronald Reagan said that the Marines don’t have to wonder if they’ve made a difference or not, and I believe the same is true for those who assist the Marines in their mission.”