Study Abroad: Istanbul, Turkey

study abroad in Turkey

Studying abroad is usually touted as an important experience for undergraduate students. But last fall, ACU's Dr. Garry Bailey decided to take a group of graduate students to Turkey to study gender conflict firsthand.

Our students got to meet these great women who are doing wonderful things in countries where women are often oppressed. We had opportunities to visit with people who knew very intimately the problems of gender conflict.

Bailey, associate professor and academic director of the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution, said he got his inspiration for the program after visiting with a speaker from last year's ACU Peace Conference about attending a meeting in Turkey.

This inspiration led him to take a group of nine students, along with colleague Dr. Cindy Roper, to a Mediators Beyond Borders Congress in Istanbul. The students earned credit in a course called "Gender Conflict Issues in the Middle East."

Bringing theory to life

Taking the class in Turkey, an area where gender conflict is especially prominent, brought the class from theory to reality.

"Our students got to meet these great women who are doing wonderful things in countries where women are often oppressed," Bailey said. "We had opportunities to visit with people who knew very intimately the problems of gender conflict."

The trip was a wonderful opportunity for the students to engage with each other on a personal level since the majority of their degree is earned online. Many of them had not met until stepping off the plane in Istanbul, but building relationships with each other quickly became a highlight of the experience.

"The trip was awesome," participant Javier Leon said. "Wonderful teachers, wonderful sight-seeing in ancient cities, but most of all great friendships were born."

Bailey said the students were encouraged to "look for the places beyond the tourist spots, to look for how average Turkish citizens relate to one another."

Lasting impact

Detailed planning allowed the trip to run smoothly, but Bailey is already thinking of ways to enhance future trips. He recognizes the innate value of studying abroad and the tremendous impact it can have on a student's life and education.

"I don't think it's even possible to measure the value of the experience because it's so great," he said.

Studying gender conflict in an area of the world where the issue is so pronounced had a lasting impact on the travelers.

"I left Turkey different than when I came," student Anna Jane Perry said.

Bailey agrees.

"We can talk about gender conflict in the Middle East, read about it in textbooks, or we can actually go and hear people talk about their experience with it."


Read more about the trip and view a photo gallery on the Duncum Center for Conflict Resolution blog

Learn more about ACU's online graduate programs in conflict resolution

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