From Muncie to Istanbul

Two-week study abroad trip offers personal growth opportunities.

After a relationship-building visit to the University of Istanbul, Ball State officials plan to continue strengthening the study-abroad program that sends students to Turkey for two weeks.

Director of International Advancement Martin Limbird and President Blaine Brownell visited the University of Istanbul from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9. Limbird said that of the 15 visiting collegiate delegates, University of Istanbul President Rector Kemal Alemdaroglu chose to spend his time at a formal dinner meeting with the Ball State ambassadors.

"Brownell's visit was to make friends," Limbird said. "The symbolism in the second visit's importance was to show 'we want to collaborate with you.'"

Built in 1495, the University of Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest universities in the world. With 70,000 students, 15 colleges, three campuses and two medical centers, its numbers tower over Ball State. Limbird said it is a great honor for Ball State to be chosen to participate in a distinguished program such as the business exchange.

Professor Erdogan Kumcu, who graduated from the University of Istanbul in 1974, initiated the program after becoming a professor at Ball State. Kumcu, a professor of marketing, said the exchange has been a continuation of building relations, beginning with the business program. Ball State began formal relations with the University of Istanbul in 1989.

"It's one of the most successful programs in the College of Business," Kumcu said. "In the global business community, this gives a competitive edge to our students."

As part of the exchange program, Ball State students spend two weeks at the university, shortened from the initial five-week field trip.

"We've sent large groups of students and faculty to Istanbul for short periods of time, and they've sent individuals here for their degrees," Limbird said.

Limbird made his first visit to the University of Istanbul in 1998 with former President John Worthen. The purpose of that visit was to become familiar with the university and discuss business relations, Limbird said. During the visit, Limbird and Worthen met with Alemdaroglu only in his office during a planned meeting. Limbird said he saw his second visit to Istanbul as a success because it was more personal.

The next opportunity for students to participate in the program will be in May 2003 after commencement. Kumcu said all graduate and undergraduate students from any major are welcome to attend. Participating students can earn three to six credits.

Kumcu said this exchange program offers great opportunities, personal growth, and helps students to see how others live and experience life in different parts of the world.

Limbird said he hopes to continue relations with the University of Istanbul by intensifying joint faculty researching and teaching assignments. He said he also hopes to explore the possibility of joint degree programs at the graduate and undergraduate level.


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