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Applications invited for summer immersion experience in Turkey

RELEASED: Dec. 28, 2012


Dr. Paul Kaldijian will lead the second annual immersion trip to Turkey this summer.

EAU CLAIRE — A few openings still remain for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students interested in a monthlong summer 2012 academic immersion experience in Turkey. The registration deadline is Jan. 30, and 12 students will be accepted into the program.

Students from all academic majors are invited to apply, and participants should have a sophomore standing before the program begins. To prepare, students will take a three-credit interdisciplinary, upper-level general education course, "Culture, People and Places of Turkey," during the spring 2012 semester. Students also will earn from one to three credits for the summer immersion experience.

The summer 2012 trip will be UW-Eau Claire's second annual immersion program in Turkey and will include the key features of the summer 2011 inaugural program, said Dr. Paul Kaldjian, an associate professor of geography. Kaldjian traveled with students to Turkey last summer and is coordinating the 2012 program along with Dr. Ari Anand, assistant professor of anthropology. (Read a news release about the summer 2011 program, including student comments about the experience.)

Key program features include a semester of preparation before going to Turkey, Turkish language study, home visits and stays, use of public transportation in Turkey and an overall emphasis on daily life rather than the exceptional — "the 'real view' of Turkish life rather than the tourist's view, as one student put it," Kaldjian said.

"The semester of preparation is key — studies affirm that cultural and intellectual preparation significantly increases the meaningfulness and long-term value of short-term immersion experiences," Kaldjian said. "On a foundation of knowledge, understanding and anticipation, the students thrive and grow."

Students who participated in the 2011 program found that what they learned could not have come from a classroom setting or from a more traditional tourist experience, Kaldjian said, noting that the program creates opportunities for students to begin relationships with Turkish people, places and practices, which further inform the students' view of Turkey and Turkish life and encourage the students' personal development.

"They return empowered and carry the experience into the rest of their lives," Kaldjian said. "And it is wonderful to see how much the students appreciate and learn from Turkish culture and practice. They would never have imagined it."

Students in the 2011 program identified with and learned from individuals and/or groups with whom they interacted throughout their stay in Turkey.

"These included students' host families, our program assistants and language teachers, local residents and merchants," Kaldjian said. "They also included groups such as the staff at our Istanbul hotel, women at the hamam, fellow daily commuters, Turkish citizens, and even worshippers at one of Istanbul's historic, central mosques. These are people with whom our students interacted at a personal and meaningful level — whom they observed, got to know and asked questions of, and from whom they learned about customs, practices and meanings."

During the first two weeks of the 2012 program, students will stay in Istanbul and study the Turkish language, learning basic formalities and practicing their language skills with local residents. Students also will get to know the metropolitan area beyond Istanbul's touristic center and learn to use the city's formal and informal transportation networks. During the second half of the program, students will travel extensively outside of Istanbul, examining Turkey's regional, cultural and environmental variations. Participants will return to Istanbul to work on research and service-learning projects at the conclusion of the program.

The Turkey immersion experience is partially funded with Blugold Commitment dollars, monies all UW-Eau Claire students now pay in addition to regular tuition. Blugold Commitment funds are used to support innovative programs that enhance students' college experiences.

More information about the summer 2012 Turkey immersion program and how to apply can be found on UW-Eau Claire's Center for International Education website. Students interested in participating are encouraged to contact Dr. Paul Kaldjian at 715-836-2321 or and to monitor the program home page, which will be updated as details are finalized.



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