SU LAUNCHES NEW STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM IN TURKEY By Selina Carter
“A stranger is a guest from God.” ~ Turkish proverb
In fall 2010, Syracuse University opened the application process for its new SU Abroad Center in Istanbul, Turkey. The center is housed within Bahçesehir University, a private university that is thriving academically and boasts a magnificent location on the northern (European) shore of the Bosporus Strait. This new program is expected to help students expand their comfort zones by engaging directly with locals, while also benefiting from strong support from an on-campus SU office. Academically, one of the aims of the new program is to engage “twenty-first century chal- lenges—post-authoritarian democratization, Islam and secularization, minority and human rights, and development versus cultural and environmental preservation,” according to Peter Leuner, Director of SU Europe.
Istanbul is one of the world’s oldest cities. Chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2010, Istanbul dazzles as a symbol of history, a blend of Eastern and Western cultures, and a paradoxical mix of modern and tradi- tional values. According to a recent European Union study, Istanbul is the safest major city in the world. It is also the only city that is located on two continents, Europe and Asia. Historic ruins of the Ottoman and Byzantine empires attract tourists from all corners of the globe, and ancient minarets, flowered gardens and fountains inlaid with blue tiles, magnificent waterfront buildings, and trendy youth social spots dot the landscape.
Bahçesehir, which started as an elementary and high school system, opened as a full university with English- language instruction in 1998. It quickly was able to attract leading academics from within Turkey and abroad with its competitive salaries and dynamic environment. Currently around 12,000 students are enrolled at the undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. levels in 29 departments at six distinct faculties.
The SU Center consists of a central office and several classrooms, where the first batch of SU students will begin with a three-week, pre-semester seminar that includes a “survival Turkish for beginners” course in Spring 2011. Director Erika Wilkens-Sozen, an Istanbul resident who earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science at SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, will teach two core courses: “Istanbul, the City” and “Con- temporary Issues in Turkey.” Students will have full access to university facilities and other courses at the university alongside Turkish and other foreign students. Students also will have the option of taking formal Turkish language courses. Students then select up to three additional courses from the Bahçesehir offerings for almost every discipline, allowing students to fulfill requirements for many minors or majors.
Syracuse University is Bahçesehir’s first on-campus American partner. According to Sue Shane, Program Direc- tor for SU Abroad, Bahçesehir CEO Enver Yucel and SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor “hit it off” during his visit in October 2010 to Syracuse. “They share a commitment to engaging the world,” states Shane. Cantor has embraced the new center as a move toward greater international engagement, particularly “non-traditional” study abroad destinations.
“Our biggest challenge in designing SU Abroad programs is for our students to go out and connect with locals. At Bahçesehir, students will be surrounded by locals. The degree of integration is extremely high,” states Shane. “I expect our students will make friends that will last for a lifetime.” In addition to intermingling within the classroom, SU students may participate in field work opportunities, as Bahçesehir students run a community service organization where they can visit sites in Istanbul for service work.
Applications are being accepted for the Fall 2011 semester. The program is open to undergraduate students across all disciplines enrolled at SU and other U.S. colleges and universities. A fall semester-only graduate program for international relations will open in fall 2011. For more information on the new Turkey program, visit http://studyabroa- darchive.syr.edu/programs/location/istanbul.