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Turkish partners visit for annual meeting

By : Rachel Coker

Dozens of faculty and staff members involved with SUNY’s Turkish dual-diploma programs met last week in Binghamton and Buffalo for a progress report.

The annual gathering, to be held in Istanbul next year, has become an indispensable way for participants to reach new levels of mutual understanding, said H. Stephen Straight, vice provost for undergraduate education and international affairs.

“It gives us an opportunity to work through some issues to make the program work at its very best,” he said.

This year, for instance, administrators discussed offering a new class focused on writing and reading about U.S. history. Part of the course would be completed online during the summer before the Turkish students come to the States for their sophomore year.

“We find they come in with an understandably big gap there,” Straight said. “It’s the sort of thing that might end up being something we can offer to other international undergraduates so they would get a leg up i

n regard to issues of American history and politics.”

A couple of Turkish visitors met last week with several Turkish seniors to get their perspective on the program.

Yigit Gursoy, an information systems student at Istanbul Technical University, said studying at Binghamton has offered a good multicultural experience. “You see your country, your culture from the outside,” he said. “You know your country better. Your point of view gets broader.”

The SUNY program’s unique alternate-year framework means that at any one time half the participating students are in the United States and half are in Turkey. Several of the students said they truly feel like “global citizens,” maybe even children of a “third culture,” not truly a part of U.S. or Turkish culture.

Merve Yasin Yavuz, a global and international affairs student at Middle East Technical University, agreed that the program teaches participants how to live with different people.


Oktay Sekercisoy, right, associate director of Binghamton University’s dual-diploma programs, shows the campus to Barbaros Bozkurt, from left, METU-SUNY programs adviser, Tarik Oguzlu, assistant professor at Bilkent University and Ipek Eren Vural, an asso
dquo;I want to be a diplomat,” she said. “I learned how to live one year here and one year somewhere else.”

Beyond learning how to get along with different types of people — and how to find foods she likes to eat in a new culture, she has also had a chance to study international relations in a completely different way. For instance, she said,  she has learned about American views on Iraq firsthand.

“This gives me a new perspective on the world,” Yavuz said.

There are now nine State University of New York campuses and nine Turkish universities participating in the program, which enrolls 1,535 students. More than a third of the students attend Binghamton, more than at any other campus.

Straight noted demand for the program is increasing faster than the size of the entering class. There were 1,476 applicants for 247 places in fall 2006; 2,458 applicants for 393 places in fall 2007.

SUNY-wide there are now 24 programs in 15 different fields of study.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08