CLS '11 Jordan alumnae, Emily Creasia, interviews American students studying abroad in Jordan:
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
|CLS students learning a traditional dance in Mari-El, Russia.|
Russia’s Middle Volga region is home to many non-Slavic ethnic groups, such as the Volga Germans, Mordvins, and Udmurts. CLS participants in Kazan, in the Republic of Tatarstan, study Russian in a city that has been a crossroads of Russian and the Turkic Tatar culture for nearly 500 years. On July 29-30, Kazan participants traveled to the Russian republic of Mari-El, about 200 kilometers from Kazan. Mari-El is the homeland of the Mari people, a Finno-Ugric ethnic group.
The students visited an ethnically Mari village, where they experienced Russian rural life in general and Mari-specific culture. They sampled homemade Mari food, listened to Mari folk singing, learned a traditional Mari dance, spoke with residents about village life, and relaxed in a banya, a traditional Russian sauna.
|CLS students in Mari-El, Russia.|
The Republic of Mari-El contains some of the most ecologically pure areas of Russia and is a popular destination for Russians looking to hike, swim, and enjoy the natural surroundings.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
The 2011 CLS Turkey students visited the American Corner office in Bursa, Turkey.
|Bursa American Corner|
American Corners can be found in many countries worldwide and are a partnership between the Public Affairs section of U.S. Embassies and host institutions.
The American Corner in Bursa is located at the Bursa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, so the CLS students had the opportunity not only to learn about the American Corner projects, but also about the city of Bursa. They watched short films about Bursa and the Chamber of Commerce and listened to presentations about Bursa’s industries.
|Bursa American Corner|
In Turkey, there are five American Corners, located in Bursa, Izmir, Kayseri, Erzurum, and Gaziantep. The mission of each American Center and Corner in Turkey is to be a partner in promoting mutual understanding between the United States and Turkey.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
|CLS Vladimir, Russia students in St. Petersburg|
CLS students in Vladimir, Russia traveled to St. Petersburg on July 27, 2011. As is customary in Russia, the group traveled via overnight train, arriving in the northern capital the following morning.
Students enjoyed a day of independently exploring the city, followed by a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Лебединое Озеро (“Swan Lake”) at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Days are long throughout the summer in northern Russia, allowing students on their second day in Petersburg to enjoy a late-evening bus excursion around the city.
Before returning to Vladimir, the group spent a day at the Peterhof Palace just outside St. Petersburg. Built in the early 18th century by Peter the Great, Peterhof is actually a series of palaces and gardens often referred to as the Russian Versailles. Peterhof receives many foreign visitors each year, and the CLS Vladimir students surprised the tour guide with their excellent Russian!
|CLS Vladimir students enjoy a meal in St. Petersburg.|
Monday, August 8, 2011
Friday, August 5, 2011
By Sam Hamer (NSLI-Y 2009, CLS 2011)
|Sam (left) and his NSLI-Y host brother enjoy refreshments at a local cafe.|
I feel really lucky to be a part of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. You can't get much of a better deal than getting to hang out in a country for free, live with and learn from interesting people, explore a history that piques personal interest, and study a language that I honestly really enjoy learning.
This summer, I’m an advanced-level student on the CLS Program in Bursa, Turkey. Aside from classes and chatting with my host family (the fact that they know zero English is a dream come true!), I've had a really great peer tutor experience. My buddy (which is what we call our peer tutors) is an English student, so she knows what it's like to learn a tough language. We get along really well, and I'm learning from her all the time. I have also overall enjoyed the cultural excursions.
In short, I'm totally immersed in Turkish the vast majority of the day (except perhaps when I’m writing this!). I'm so fortunate to be able to benefit from this immense opportunity.
Before taking part in the CLS Program, I was a student on the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). Whereas CLS is a U.S. Department of State program for U.S. college students, NSLI-Y is a U.S. Department of State program for U.S. high school students and recent graduates. I studied on the NSLI-Y program in Ankara, Turkey, in 2009.
|Sam's host parents in Ankara.|
My host family experience in on the NSLI-Y program was vital in my decision to continue to study Turkish in college and to apply to the CLS Program to return to Turkey this summer. The Afşar family is truly my own—they really treat me like a son. Brother Umut, an ESL and Flemish-as-a-second-language learner, has been a mentor and friend, especially when it comes to language learning. These people are so interesting, and when it comes to Turkish learning, they really understand it. After all, my host mother is an English teacher.
This summer on the CLS Program, I had the opportunity to travel back to Ankara for a weekend to visit my NSLI-Y host family. I really enjoyed speaking to them virtually entirely in Turkish, which is not what I was able to do two summers ago. In addition to my visit, my host mother and brother came to visit me in Bursa a few weeks ago. Some of the pictures here are from that afternoon.
It’s not as though these two rendezvous were unexpected, though: we’ve been exchanging (Turkish) e-mails for the past two years!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
A key strategic value of the otherwise thoroughly landlocked city of Kazan, Russia, is its position on the Volga River, one of Eurasia’s great waterways. CLS participants at the Kazan Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities took advantage of this from July 11 to 14 with a cruise up the Volga from Kazan to the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
In Nizhny Novgorod, the students strolled streets in the town center dating back to the 1200s and toured the kremlin, or fortified city center, an important military base in Ivan the Terrible’s 16th-century campaign to gain control of Kazan.
|Megan Jones, Beth Meyer, Taylor Lane and Meghan Hickey wade in the Volga with the group’s riverboat in the background.|
The students continued their language studies while on board the riverboat, rehearsing songs and poems for their end-of-summer showcase. The boat also made stops in the small city of Cheboksary and the village of Kozlovka, where the group enjoyed a swim in the river and a lunch of shashlyk, Russian grilled meat and vegetables.
CLS student Rebecca Anderson was recently featured in several newspapers in Ankara, Turkey, where she is studying Turkish.
In June, she attended a “welcome summer” party at her host mother’s workplace, and a newspaper photographer took her photo with her host mother, Yasemin Topaloğlu, and one of the CLS instructors, Dilek Kocayanak. The article was featured in the newspapers Hürriyet (Ankara distribution) and Haber Türk, as well as Mag magazine.
Rebecca is a Ph.D. student in English at Illinois State University. Her doctoral research focuses on Turkish folklore. Prior to the CLS Program, she received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to work as a teaching assistant at Pamukkale University in Denizli, Turkey, from 2009-2010.