On October 27th, NSLI-Y Interactive hosted a virtual event connecting five NSLI-Y students currently studying in Izmir, Turkey and two alumna who studied for a summer in Ankara, Turkey in live time with an enthusiastic audience made up of students, family members, and others from all over the U.S.
The students and alumni gave presentations in English, integrating words and expressions in Turkish, on the theme of “One Day in the Life in Turkey,” during which they shared their own photos and videos. Within these authentic presentations, the speakers provided valuable insights into Turkish culture, language and everyday life through their perspectives as exchange students.
Krista began by discussing host family life and the importance of being a cultural ambassador, followed by Gracie and Mary Eleanor, who spoke about Turkish history, culture and everyday life as NSLI-Y Turkish language year students. Next, Lars and Gianna discussed language learning in the context of school and host family life in Turkey. Lastly, Kyle talked about activities and a typical day for a NSLI-Y Turkish language summer student, while Hank discussed food, transportation and safety.
Gracie reflected on the way Turkish history, culture and language are all tied together:
We have all of the history and all of the rich, rich culture juxtaposed with more modern things, and it just makes for a really rich cultural experience that you can also see in the language…you see how the language has grown with the country through the millennia. – Gracie
Gianna highlighted the opportunities to immerse oneself in the language as an exchange student:
The NSLI-Y Turkish experience is an immersion in every sense of the word, and I truly mean that. Whether it’d be talking to your local fig seller on your way to school or navigating a lost and found cell phone incident, every part of your life here is going to be an opportunity to utilize the language, and that’s what’s so beautiful about being in country learning a language. – Gianna
Hank summed up the NSLI-Y experience nicely, saying:
Why we do exchange in the first place…it’s not to be comfortable all the time…We’re here because we want to bridge gaps between countries, between cultures, between people. We’re here to work through our differences and see the world in a new way. And a lot of times that means being a little uncomfortable and putting yourself in new situations like living with a different family or trying to discuss social justice issues in Turkish. But this is ultimately how we foster more understanding, both personally and in the world. – Hank
Throughout and after the presentation, the moderators and audience had a chance to ask the speakers questions about topics such as their linguistic goals, the challenges of being a cultural ambassador and unique opportunities they have had as NSLI-Y students and alumni.
The speakers fully embraced the opportunity to be cultural ambassadors in sharing their unique experiences and perspectives with their fellow Americans, enlightening them with regard to Turkish culture and language and surely inspiring many to take their language learning and cultural learning to the next level.
Click here to view the previous virtual event with students from the NSLI-Y India Program.