Twenty educators from Aksaray University in Turkey participated this summer in an American Culture and Language Training Workshop in Higher Education at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus. The month-long classes were led by Dr. Sonja L. Taylor and co-taught with Professor Ian Stone. The course ran from July 15 to August 9. Scholars learned about the U.S. education system and the intersection of politics, trade associations and budgets in higher education. Current trends in pedagogy were demonstrated by Taylor who used a variety of teaching tools designed to engage students in their studies. Stone focused on listening and grammar skills to increase the professors’ confidence to complete two months of research on their own in the U.S.
Dr. Chad Knights, assistant division dean of biology and natural sciences at Alexandria, explained post-doctorate funding, grants and research opportunities in the U.S. Rob Henderson, Office of Grants Development and Special Projects, explained how Washington works and suggested networking opportunities with organizations and government agencies that matched each scholar’s research area. Cynthia Hatch of Workforce Development demonstrated using technology to enhance student learning.
Connie Kirkland, NOVA Cares, covered the important role instructors play in recognizing students’ mental well-being. Alexandria librarians Bruce Carroll and Katie Seeler introduced participants to NOVA research tools. Don Cole, director of operations at Alexandria, spoke about his duties and experience running the Alexandria Campus. Stacey Bustillos and Necmi Mutlu of the Office of Global Studies and Programs, provided invaluable guidance to students. Celia Leckey of Workforce Development designed and implemented the course.
Off-campus meetings with education experts from the National Education Association, the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, and the Turkish Coalition of America rounded out the program. The delegation also had a briefing and tour of George Mason University’s campus in Fairfax, Virginia. Presentations were given by administrators, including Dr. Kay Agoston, director of graduate fellowships, and Dr. Devrim Ozdemir, director of language technologies, modern and classical languages, who discussed the differences in higher education between the two countries. Both Agoston and Ozdemir are fluent in Turkish. Afterward, each scholar attended prearranged meetings with a Mason peer to discuss their research, with many agreeing to work together. Two scholars were offered internships with the Computational Materials Science Center and several others explored collaborating on water purification efforts with Mason’s Enterprise Center.
The guests also learned about America by attending private tours of the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress and the National Museum of the American Indian.
A presentation by Dr. Paul McVeigh, vice president of Global Studies and Programs, concluded the program. American Culture and Language Institute wishes to extend special thanks to Dr. Turgay Polat of Aksaray University who organized the program and provided the leadership to enable his faculty to benefit from this international experience.