Want to study abroad but think you can’t afford it? Think again, says Rachele Kanigel, who wrote this blog post as the co-director of ieiMedia’s new program in Kyoto, Japan.
One of the best ways to raise money for a study abroad program is to apply for a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. This federally funded program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad.
Several students have won Gilman scholarships to study abroad with ieiMedia. This year, Amy Venn, a student at Valley City State University in North Dakota, won a Gilman scholarship to study in our Oslo, Norway, program, and you can see several of her blogposts here. In 2013 Taylor Gilman a journalism student at Metropolitan State University, won a $4,000 Gilman scholarship to study with ieiMedia in Istanbul. Kat Russell, a student at California State University, Northridge, won a $5,000 Gilman scholarship to study in Istanbul in 2011. You can read about her experience in this piece she wrote for MediaShift.
The Gilman program is designed to “broaden the student population that studies and interns abroad by supporting undergraduates who might not otherwise participate due to financial constraints,” according to the program’s website. It aims to “support students who have been traditionally under-represented in education abroad, including but not limited to, students with high financial need, community college students, students in underrepresented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities.”
This year the Gilman program will award more than 2,800 scholarships of up to $5,000. Award amounts will vary depending on the length of study and student need; the average grant is $3,000. About 27 percent of students who apply win Gilman scholarships.
The program is open to students from public and private institutions from all 50 states; Washington, DC; and Puerto Rico.
To be eligible for a Gilman Scholarship, an applicant must:
- Be a citizen of the United States;
- Be an undergraduate student in good standing at an accredited institution of higher education in the United States (including both two-year and four-year institutions);
- Be receiving a Federal Pell Grant or provide proof that he/she will be receiving a Pell Grant during the term of his/her study abroad program or internship;
- Be in the process of applying to, or accepted for, a study abroad or internship program of at least two weeks for community college students and four weeks for students from four-year institutions, in a single country and eligible for credit from the student’s home institution. Proof of program acceptance is required prior to award disbursement;
- Plan to study in a country not currently under a travel warning issued by the United States Department of State. (ieiMedia never holds a study abroad course in these countries when they are on the travel warning list.)
Award recipients are chosen by a competitive selection process and must use the award to defray study- or intern-abroad costs. These costs include program tuition, room and board, books, local transportation, insurance and international airfare.
The Gilman Program offers two summer application cycles for summer programs. The deadlines are Oct. 4 and March 7. People who apply in October will find out in late February; those who apply in March find out in May.
All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time on the date they are due. The online application system will close at this time and no more applications will be accepted. This deadline also includes uploading official transcripts from your current college or university and any transfer institution listed in your application.
Here are some tips for applying to the Gilman program:
- Before you begin the application, contact the appropriate offices at your school to determine the correct study abroad and financial aid adviser(s) who must certify your application. Some institutions designate a specific financial aid or study abroad adviser to certify all Gilman Scholarship applications.
- Submit your application at least a few days before the due date to ensure that you do not miss the deadline as a result of technical difficulties or because of heavy traffic on the Gilman website. Make sure your application is complete!
- Some institutions require a written release of information form before your advisers can certify your application. Failure to submit a written release of information form to your adviser, if required by your university, will delay the processing of your application.
- The Gilman application requires two essays: the Statement of Purpose Essay and the Follow-on Service Project Proposal. When writing your Statement of Purpose essay, stress what you hope to gain from the program and how it will help you fulfill professional and personal goals. For more information about the essays, visit the Gilman program website. (http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program/Application-Process/Essays)
- Eligible programs must be a minimum of four weeks (28 days)— or two weeks (14 days) for current community college students — in one country and can be as long as one academic year. Students who are interested in ieiMedia’s Kyoto program should also plan to participate in the optional three-day Japan English Model United Nations Conference immediately before the international reporting program, so that study-abroad experience will meet the 28-day requirement.
If you do not qualify for a Gilman scholarship, contact your financial aid office and study-abroad office to inquire about other funding opportunities.
This summer in Tel Aviv, Cathy Shafran, director of ieiMedia’s Jerusalem Program, ran into Léa Bouchoucha, a 2014 alum of the Istanbul Program. Shafran learned that, in part because of her Istanbul internship, Bouchoucha is now working for an international TV station. This is Shafran’s report.
JAFFA, ISRAEL—French-born Léa Bouchoucha was an inquisitive child. As long as she can remember, she wanted to be a private detective or an investigator.
By the time she was college age, the desire to be an investigator turned into a passion for journalism. But not just any journalism—international journalism.
It took more than ten years, ten internships, and hands-on experience with an international reporting program to realize that dream. But within months of Bouchoucha’s study-abroad experience at age 32, she finally landed an overseas TV position. Bouchoucha says it was her resume, her “clip reel,” and international experience from a 2014 month-long study-abroad program with ieiMedia in Istanbul that finally helped her dream come to reality.
“The program in Turkey allowed me enough time to immerse myself in the country,” said Bouchoucha. “But I came to Turkey very serious about the program. I was already pitching my story ideas before the program started. I scheduled my interviews in advance.”
Bouchoucha describes herself as the student in the program who came knowing what she wanted before she arrived. She had already spent the past decade studying at the Sorbonne University in Paris and working diligently at internships at Euro News Channel, Le Figaro magazine, and CNN-Paris hoping to get a leg up on her career. While none of that landed her a job, she says it made her more passionate about international reporting as her future.
“The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be a journalist,” she said. “I realized I wanted to be a journalist, but I didn’t have any skill. So I applied to grad school, and was accepted at NYU’s school of journalism.”
It was at New York University that she learned of the month-long study-abroad option through ieiMedia. She struggled with whether to attend ieiMedia’s program in Istanbul or in Jerusalem. She knew she wanted the opportunity to work as a hard news journalist. She chose the Istanbul program because of a personal connection with an old Turkish boyfriend.
It turned out to be the experience she had been seeking for more than a decade.
“It was all organized to prepare me to be a good journalist,” said Bouchoucha. “IeiMedia gave me the space to grow my skills. At NYU there was no time for long-form journalism. IeiMedia gave me the opportunity to write about what I really cared about.”
Bouchoucha says the program was structured to meet both the needs of a student with mild interest in the topic and those, like herself, who came with a commitment to the field.
“In Turkey I was assigned to one professional. She edited my story and gave me advice. I learned about the challenges of working in a foreign country with a foreign language. I learned that the best way to make contact where language is an issue.” With a great deal of self motivation and the assistance of her mentors in the month-long program, Bouchoucha completed two video pieces about Syrian refugees escaping into Turkey.
“When I finished the program, it told me, ‘Yes! This is what I want to do,’” said Bouchoucha. “I was very happy. I knew this was the kind of work I wanted.”
Three months later, after completing her work at NYU, Bouchoucha began a job search with her “reel” from the ieiMedia program in hand.
A friend told her about an opportunity at the i24 News channel in Tel Aviv, and that week she was on a plane to Israel for an interview.
“They told me they were impressed with my resume. They were looking for someone with internship experience. They said it showed I had the ability to adapt in a foreign environment.”
Executives at i24 News called her later that week and offered her a position as a News Editor. She eagerly took the job, and now coordinates daily live newscasts on the international 24-hour news and current affairs television channel based in the Jaffa port of Tel Aviv, Israel. Bouchoucha works the French desk at the news channel that broadcasts in English, French, and Arabic.
“Finally, after 10 years!” Bouchoucha exclaimed with a broad smile. “My first real job in an international newsroom.”
While busy on the desk, Bouchoucha still dreams of being in the field reporting. She says a mentor in the ieiMedia program gave her a leg up in that direction as well.
“Mary D’Ambrosio, the director in Turkey, really helped me,” Bouchoucha said. “What was most helpful was that she told me about Women’s E-News, a smaller publication reporting on women’s issues around the world. Before that, I wanted to work in big media. I realized with small media you have much more opportunity to do longer meaningful pieces.”
And so Bouchoucha’s time in Tel Aviv is busy, working the i24News desk during the day and freelance writing for Women’s E-News at night.
She reflected on her accomplishments since the 2014 ieiMedia program as she walked past the clattering sound of reporters and anchors filing their stories in the i24News newsroom. She looked up with a knowing grin.
“After a lot of work, this is finally my beginning,” said Bouchoucha.
For summer 2015, ieiMedia welcomes four Research Fellows who will investigate the techniques and effectiveness of experiential learning, boot-camp teaching, short-term programs, and intercultural reporting in our programs in Urbino, Italy; Istanbul, Turkey; Valencia, Spain; and Nice, France.
The 2015 ieiMedia Research Fellows are:
In Urbino: Frank Garland, Journalism Communications Program director at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania
In Istanbul: Jack Zibluk, Professor of Mass Media at Southeast Missouri State, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
In Valencia: Kanina Holmes, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario
In Nice: Sonya DiPalma, Assistant Professor of Mass Communications, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Research Fellows receive a $3,000 grant toward the $4,995 cost of our programs and will have regular informal access to the program faculty for pedagogical and theoretical exchanges. In addition, they will participate in one or more of the program’s practice modules and become a resource to faculty and students where appropriate. IeiMedia launched the Research Fellows program in 2014, when Barry Janes, professor of communication at Rider University, joined the team of the Urbino Program, where he participated in the video module and advised students in their projects.
“Our four awards this year mark a high point for this program,” says ieiMedia president and founder Andrew Ciofalo. “Our objective is to approve one for each or our seven programs. We will continue this because there is a need for exposing faculty to the value and methods of experiential teaching, especially in foreign settings where it is most effective.”
To apply: Write to Prof. Andrew Ciofalo, 4195 Tamiami Trail South #102, Venice FL 34293-5112. Explain your interest in this opportunity and how it might have an impact on your teaching or administrative role. If there is a particular research question you plan to address, please let us know. Include with the letter your vita, a letter of recommendation from your unit head, and a sample of or link to your writing, other work or research. We expect a written reflection at the end that you may also share with your department.
Taksim Square in Istanbul was jammed with protestors as summer 2013 approached. Our students in international reporting were scheduled to arrive in mid-June. Unlike many study abroad programs conducted from the relative safety of overseas campuses, our journalism students were involved in an experiential program that emphasized reporting from the community.
While no parents or students expressed any concern to us, some on our faculty were uneasy. Are we putting our students in harm’s way?
The ieiMedia advance party, including our program director and a faculty member, reported back that beyond Taksim Tquare life was normal and peaceful in Istanbul. They even walked through Taksim Square and reported that the atmosphere and action was much calmer than the daily images crowding TV screens back in the U.S.
Any decision on the safety of a program should not be based on the tunnel vision provided by the market demands of American media. We not only rely on first-hand observations, but we are governed by the U.S. State Department’s warning system about travel to particular countries.
For our students, being in Istanbul at this time was a bonanza. They could compare for themselves the exaggerated coverage in the media to the actual situation on the ground. They nibbled at the edges of Taksim, under faculty supervision, and engaged protest leaders in depth interviews well away from the action. And they balanced their approach with reports showing how other issues continue to concern Istanbul citizens beyond the noise of Taksim. The incredible stories they produced can be found at our 2013 project site, The Battle for Istanbul.
As we prepare for 2015, once again we are observing Istanbul and Israel very closely. For instance, we know that in Jerusalem, like Istanbul, the action is limited to small geographic pinpoints. TV (Tunnel Vision) makes the situation seem larger than life, but of greater concern are individual, private acts of violence between citizens. We have the option to make program adjustments that keep us mostly on the Hebrew University’s highly secure campus and to function in areas far from the conflict zones.
The fact that our students can be so productive in a stressful environment speaks volumes on their resumes. But most important, such programs challenge them to rise above the usual soft features to get at the underlying problems in a society. This is experiential learning at its best.
“To be a reporter in Istanbul is to drop into the middle of the action.”
“This has been much more than a chance to live in Italy for a month–it’s been a chance to learn and apply valuable information that will make me more equipped for a professional career in media production.”
“I learned that journalism is so much more than disseminating news. It’s linking people from opposite sides of the world through a core human interest.”
These are the voices of ieiMedia’s 2014 students, who traveled this past summer to France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, and Northern Ireland to study multimedia journalism, narrative journalism, social media, international reporting, and creative writing. They produced videos, made photos, and reported and wrote about everything from flamenco and truffles to Syrian women in Turkey and the tension in Hebron.
Now we’re looking forward to next summer’s courses and to a new crop of equally inspired–and inspiring–students. And we’re hoping that your students, and perhaps you, will join us.
For summer 2015, we offer six international learning adventures:
- Valencia, Spain: narrative journalism
- Nice, France: multimedia journalism
- Jerusalem, Israel: international reporting
- Urbino, Italy: multimedia journalism, magazine journalism
- Armagh, No. Ireland: creative writing, multimedia journalism
- Istanbul, Turkey: international reporting, internships
In addition, we are proud to announce ieiMedia’s James Foley Memorial Scholarship in International Photojournalism in honor of the journalist tragically executed while covering the war in Syria. The winner of the $5,000 scholarship will attend our program in Urbino, Italy, to study with our award-winning photography faculty, including Pulitzer prize winner Dennis Chamberlin and former White House photographer Susan Biddle.
Keep in mind that our application deadline is February 1, 2015. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, and will close as each program is filled. Apply early to secure a spot!
Please share this information with your students, colleagues, and friends.
Some 74 students and recent graduates from more than 50 universities in five countries will participate in ieiMedia programs this summer.
Students headed for the iPad magazine program in Urbino are busily packing their bags for a June 6 departure, while others bound for Armagh, Northern Ireland; Istanbul, Turkey; and Jerusalem, Israel still have a couple of weeks left for last-minute shopping, reading and information gathering.
Some tips for those planning to travel with ieiMedia this summer:
- Read up on your destination city and the surrounding region. Consume international newspapers, magazines, books, guides, even novels about the place you’ll be living for a month. The more you know about the community, the better you’ll be able to report.
- multimedia story on a snail farm in nearby Estoher. Come armed with story ideas. Do enough research that you have some idea of what you want to cover when you’re there. Your faculty and translators will have some suggestions but the best ideas, the ones you really want to report on, will spring from your own interests. One of our strongest students in Perpignan a few years ago came to France knowing she wanted to report on escargots; indeed, she put together a fine
- Pack lightly but bring a variety of summer-weight clothes. Remember to pack some casual business outfits (a dress, skirt or pantsuit for women; a nice shirt and slacks for men) for interviews and meetings with public officials, journalists and other professionals. Though it will be hot in many of our program sites, bring clothing that is modest and professional.
- Bring sensible footwear. All of our program sites are in historic cities with cobble-stone streets and hilly areas. Forget the stiletto heels. Bring shoes you can walk in!
- Carry a notebook and camera wherever you go. Even a casual conversation with a shopkeeper or resident could turn into an interview. Be prepared to take notes and shoot stills and video.
- Get contact info for follow-up interviews. Collect business cards or names, phone numbers and email addresses for every person you talk with. Everyone is a potential source. You never know when you may want to go back to someone for more information.
- Open your senses. Take a whiff of the air. Taste new foods. Try new experiences. Be open to what this new environment has to offer.
- BUT don’t leave your common sense at home. Young travelers can occasionally get themselves into trouble by not paying attention to the warning signs they would follow at home. When possible, travel in pairs or small groups. Don’t go off with strangers. Know where your wallet, passport and other valuables are at all times. Be wary and aware of your surroundings.
- Have a blast! ieiMedia programs are educational but they’re also fun. Many ieiMedia alumni describe their experiences with us as the summer of their lives. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to delve deep into a foreign community. Explore. Ask questions. Learn. Grow.
Bon voyage from all of us at ieiMedia!
Taylor Gilman, a journalism major and political science minor at the Denver university, was thrilled to learn about the scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program.
“Winning this scholarship is an opportunity for me to do something extraordinary,” Gilman, 19, said in an email interview. “Studying abroad is something that always seemed out of my reach, but now it’s finally happening.”
The Gilman Scholarship Program is open to American undergraduate students who are planning to study abroad. The program “aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints,” according to the program’s website.
Gilman (no relation to the scholarship’s namesake) is originally from Glenwood Springs, Colo., and is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
“I chose the Istanbul project because I like how Turkey is a destination that not many students choose when studying abroad. I am also excited about the multimedia aspect of the program. I am very interested in photojournalism and the illumination of the human condition through photography. Even though I will only be in Istanbul for four weeks, I hope that I can shed at least a little light and truth on a culture so different from my own through images.”
Gilman is one of eight undergraduate students studying in ieiMedia’s international reporting program in Turkey this summer. Seven recent graduates and grad students will intern there with ieiMedia’s internship program.
“It’s a weird sensation how I feel,” Gilman said. “I have never been more excited or terrified in my entire life.”
Turkish Airlines (www.turkishairlines.com) has launched the Turkish Airlines World Travel 101 Sweepstakes. This monthly promotion gives students attending an accredited U.S. college or university the opportunity to win a round- trip ticket to any of Turkish Airlines’ more than 200 destinations.
Students can enter via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/
Turkish Airlines will give one round-trip ticket to any of Turkish Airlines’ global destinations to two students each month from January to June 2013. Students can only enter once per month, regardless of the number of e-mail addresses or Facebook accounts they may have. Approximately a week after each month ends, the Judging Agency will conduct a random drawing from among all eligible entries received during the previous month.
Rules for the sweepstakes are available at http://www.
ieiMedia has no relationship with Turkish Airlines.
When Kat Russell traveled to Turkey with ieiMedia’s Istanbul Project in 2011 she didn’t just find an interesting place to spend a summer. She felt she had found a home. Now, as Kat finishes her degree in journalism at California State University, Northridge she dreams of building a life and career in the exotic city where the East and West collide. Russell has returned to Istanbul twice since her ieiMedia experience to travel, to visit with friends and to research putting down future roots in Turkey. (See Kat’s photographs of Istanbul on her website.)
We caught up with Kat recently as she was about to finish her final semester at CSU Northridge, where she is the multimedia editor for the Daily Sundial.
What prompted you to sign up for the Istanbul Project?
I chose to sign up for The Istanbul Project for two main reasons: First, I wanted to gain foreign correspondence experience and to learn how to produce multimedia pieces. Second, I had never been to Turkey, nor any other predominantly Muslim culture and I really wanted to experience what that was like. Coming from a country where Muslims are regarded with suspicion and hate, I wanted to gain my own perspective and understanding.
Tell me about the story you produced there. How did you find the pantomime artist you interviewed? What challenges did the story present and how did you overcome them?
I had come to Turkey with the idea of writing about street kids in the city – an often overlooked and underemphasized problem. I envisioned working with local NGOs and social workers and the kids themselves. However, I quickly realized that this was not an easy task to execute and that it was quite a bit bigger than the program’s time frame would allow.
A week before the multimedia project was due, my project fell apart. I realized that I was going to have to find a new project and start over from scratch. That same day, my interpreter, Bürde, and I hit the pavement in search of a new subject. We were walking down Istikal (in Taksim), where there are tons of street performers, when we saw Janset – the pantomime. As we stood and watched her performance, I got excited – it was visually interesting, photogenic and she was compelling. When she finished, we approached her, introduced ourselves and asked her if we could do a piece on her and she agreed.
Once we found Janset, the rest was easy. The biggest obstacles I faced were the time pressure and my own internal barriers – having never done multimedia before, I found it to be incredibly intimidating and struggled with a lot of doubt and fear of failure. However, I have a mantra that I use in the face of fear – one foot in front of the other, just keep going – and so that’s what I did; I just kept going. I also worked closely with our multimedia advisor, Brent Foster – he was an amazing asset – and I asked for help when I felt lost or confused or doubtful. In the end, I managed to produce a piece that I am incredibly proud of.
What kind of reaction have you gotten to the piece you produced?
When I returned to the states I received a lot of praise for the pantomime piece. My advisor now uses it as a example of student work in his multimedia classes. The editorial staff of the Daily Sundial, our college newspaper, asked if I would be willing to write a weekly column chronicling my experiences in Turkey. Finally, the publisher of the Sundial, Melissa Lalum, wanted to enter my pantomime piece and some of my photographs from Turkey in several college journalism competitions. In January of this year, I was actually in Turkey again, and I received word from my publisher that my pantomime piece had placed 8th in the nation in the Hearst Journalism Awards multimedia competition. That was an unbelievable honor. This past week, I also received word that my piece received an honorable mention in the Associated Collegiate Press 2012 Multimedia Story of the Year competition – a national competition for college journalists. Again, it is an incredible honor.
Tell me about your love affair with Istanbul. What captivates you so about the place?
I have been asked so many times about my love for Istanbul and about why I feel such a connection to this city. Honestly, I have struggled to find adequate words to describe my feelings. When I first traveled to Istanbul last summer (2011), I never expected to find what I found there. I found a city that was teeming with vibrancy and life. I found oddities, contradictions, idiosyncrasies, rich culture and beautiful traditions. The hardest thing for me to explain is that I found what felt like home in Istanbul. In all my travels, this idea of searching for a place to call home had always been present in my mind – Istanbul is the first place where I felt like I had found that home. I don’t know why Istanbul is the place or what it is specifically that makes me want to live there – the only answer I have been able to give is that my heart as never felt so full and happy as it does when I am there.
How has your experience in the Istanbul Project affected your life/career plans?
My time in Istanbul has helped me to define what it is I really want to do in journalism and where it is that I really want to work and live. I have always had an interest in the Middle East, in Arabic countries and in Muslim cultures, but my experiences in Istanbul (a Near East country) really helped to ground me in those interests and really define those interests.
Istanbul also reignited my love for and interest in languages and in learning languages and since then I have been taking Turkish lessons and am looking forward to starting Arabic lessons next semester. When I returned from Istanbul, I knew where I wanted to live and what I wanted to do with my future.
Multimedia will play a large role in what is yet to come for me after I graduate from CSUN. Over the past two semesters, I have furthered my study and practice in producing multimedia pieces and worked to build a portfolio of my work. I have discovered that I am really partial to the realm of feature and documentary work as opposed to hard news. Although I love reporting and I am always interested in what is currently happening in the world, I find that I am more interested in the stories of the people impacted by world events and less interested in the fact, statistics and numbers of the event. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy sitting down with people and getting to know them, their lives and their struggles and that I love to give them the opportunity to voice those things.
Additionally, my time with ieiMedia introduced me to multimedia work and gave me a strong foundation in shooting and editing video, while igniting a new found passion. At first I found the multimedia to be really intimidating. I had never shot or edited video before – I am a still photographer normally – and I was doubtful of my ability in this new field. I owe a lot of my success and my newfound passion for multimedia work to Brent Foster – our multimedia instructor for the 2011 session. He worked closely with me, gave me instructions, helped me choose clips, edit my piece and find the narrative within the literal hours of footage I had collected. He showed me how to find usable seconds within a clip when all I saw was something I couldn’t use. He taught me to take the clips in moments rather than its entirety – something I now teach my multimedia students.
Today I am the multimedia editor for the Daily Sundial, the CSUN college paper. My job consists mostly of teaching students how to produce multimedia pieces for themselves. I teach them the way I was taught. I sit down with them and discuss the methodology, I review their footage with them, I show them what they did that was great and where/how they can improve. It’s something that I am really enjoying doing and it reaffirms for me, on a daily basis, my love for and my capability in what I do.
What advice do you have for students considering an ieiMedia program or other study-abroad experience?
The advice that I have to give to future Istanbul Project students is the same advice I give to my current group of students at CSUN: keep going in the face of doubt, frustration and fear.
Istanbul is an amazing place, but also a frustrating place to work in. One of the things that I learned early on while there is that it is better to show up than to call or email. Turks are not as prone to responding to phone messages or emails as we are here in the States. Be persistent – show up at the office of the person you want to interview, approach people face to face instead of emailing or calling; you will get better results this way.
Another thing I learned was to be flexible with my vision. When my original idea for the multimedia project fell through, I had to let it go and find something else and ultimately I walked away with a piece that has earned me national recognition and a sense of pride. Since then I have walked into scores of situations, which have required an ability to be flexible and adaptable. I now try to go into shooting without expectation of what the final product will look like and I find it much easier to work that way.
Also, keep in mind that your interpreters are assets. They are not assistants or people who happen to speak the language – they know the city, they know the cultural nuances and they can help you gain access to people an places that you might not able to on your own. Don’t just use them, work with them, befriend them and take into consideration that they have given up their valuable time to be of service to you.
Finally, Turkey is an amazingly beautiful and complex place, but it is extremely different from us – culturally and socially. Be respectful of that fact – adhere to what is socially acceptable there. Turks will appreciate your presence more if you show them respect and they are not afraid to let you know when they do not appreciate something. It is also important to understand that foreigners are held to a different standard than natives and to remember that things we wouldn’t think twice about here in the States may not be appreciated there. I guess what I am trying to say is that being respectful of their culture and their social traditions will lead to you having a much deeper and meaningful journey – at least that was my own experience.
In 1930, Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk announced that Turkey’s principal city would be known only by its Muslim name, Istanbul. Constantinople, the Greek name in use since 330 AD, would no longer be recognized. Letters addressed “Constantinople” would be returned! That caused a stir.
But a silly swing song written in Turkey’s defense took the edge off Western pique. “They Might be Giants (Istanbul Not Constantinople)” later morphed into a cult hit for the Canadian group The Four Lads, and into Istanbul’s best-ever piece of global PR. The song still campily features in anglophone cartoons and movies.
It riffs on Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” popularized by Fred Astaire during the Great Depression.
Here’s a ska version, performed in Istanbul in 2010.
If there’s a Turkish version, I couldn’t find it. Undergraduate journalism students in ieiMedia’s Istanbul Project could pick up the story, for our summer 2012 web documentary chronicling Istanbul’s cosmopolitan heritage. What do Turks think of the song? I put the question to my Turkish husband. Never heard of it, he said.
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- Istanbul Project – 2014
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by Kenneth Foo, Nanyang Technological University, The Urbino Project 2011