Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why Turkey?

Those familiar with the Fulbright application process know that we have to make a very strong case for why we want to study or teach in the country to which we are applying. Often, this means applicants can speak the host country's language, have done academic research in that country or region, or have a very compelling reason to immerse oneself in the desired country's culture. I fell in the third category.

My reason for applying to teach in Turkey was a very personal decision. In my continual search for understanding my identity, I wanted to be in a country that would give me a new perspective. 

I remember disliking school as a little girl in Pakistan. There were limited educational opportunities in the village where I grew up, and I lacked the motivation to do well because I knew I would end up as a housewife. However, my perspective changed drastically when, at age eight, my parents made sacrifices so their four daughters could have better opportunities and my family immigrated to the United States. My life story can be summed up as “East meets West,” much in the same way Turkey is currently positioned: at the crossroads of the Middle East and Western Europe. I constantly carry two identities, the traditional Eastern and the modern Western, and they are a part of my life narrative.  For much of life--16 years--I grew up as a Muslim in a Western country, the USA. If awarded the Fulbright, I wanted to experience what it's like to be an American in a Muslim-majority country.

I constantly carry two identities, the traditional Eastern and the modern Western.


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