A recent trip to Turkey may open doors to study-abroad opportunities for Cal U students and their counterparts at several Turkish universities.
Three Cal U employees — Dr. Daniel Engstrom, associate provost/associate vice president for Academic Success; Dr. Ali Sezer, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics; and Elizabeth Bennellick, director of international programming — met last month with officials at six Turkish universities.
“Turkish students are very interested in studying in the United States,” said Bennellick, who received assistance from the Turkish Cultural Center of Pittsburgh in planning the university visits.
Fans of the U.S.A.
Currently, about 12,000 Turkish students are studying at U.S. colleges and universities. Turkish universities, which typically conduct classes in English, also are interested in hosting American students.
“Turkey is a close ally of the United States where the public has a very positive opinion of Americans,” said Sezer, a native of Turkey. “Turks adore Americans, the U.S., and the values it stands for. The higher education system in Turkey is modeled after the U.S. system.”
Turkey has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and one of the youngest populations in Europe, with 20 million Turks between the ages of 10 and 24. “It’s a young, dynamic, active and vibrant country,” Sezer said.
Engstrom was impressed both with the modern facilities he visited and with the Turkish universities’ strong focus on student success. A number of majors are taught entirely in English, he learned, and Turkish students typically spend a year studying English as their university studies begin.
“This makes me comfortable that our students could go to Turkey and take four or five courses in English,” Engstrom said. “And it means that Turkish students who come to Cal U would already have had English training. They might need some ESL (English as a Second Language) support, which we could provide, but they would not face a language barrier.”
Bennellick hopes to introduce Cal U students to Turkey this summer by offering a non-credit tour in conjunction with the Turkish Cultural Center.
She also is planning a summer program at Cal U that would introduce Turkish students to academic English and American culture.
“This could help lay the groundwork for semester- or year-long study abroad programs for Turkish students at Cal U,” she said.
Private Turkish universities, in particular, are eager to collaborate with schools that can provide an “American experience” for their students. Faculty exchanges also are a possibility.
“These types of programs, and others, would greatly benefit Cal U as an institution, as well as helping to build diversity, understanding and tolerance on our campus,” Sezer said.
“We have a responsibility to help our Cal U students to expand their horizons, not only in terms of their content studies, but also in terms of becoming building, constructivist and informed citizens of the world.
“And Cal U is in a safe, family-friendly environment, which is very attractive to Turkish families. We have a lot to offer in such collaborations, and a lot to gain and learn from them, as well."
WHERE THEY TRAVELED
Gediz University, Izmir
Suleyman Sah University, Istanbul (video)
Maltepe University, Istanbul
Zirve University, Gaziantep (Pittsburgh’s “sister city”)
Mevlana University, Konya (video)
Fatih University, Istanbul