Posting Date: July 19, 2010

Turkey study abroad offers unique experiences
Students interacted and worked with local artists

By Rochelle S. Wilson

(From left) Mary Hamilton, Emily Stanford, Aaron Artrip, Ben Millican, Noah Dewalt, Carlie Gentry, Stephany Brooks and April Marten

Mural created by KSU students and Kocaeli University students

Photos courtesy of Linda Hightower

Tea, which is a sign of hospitality and friendship in Turkey, was offered to Kennesaw State University students daily as they studied studio art and art history in Turkey. Not only were students offered tea, but they were offered feasts of traditional home-cooked foods, which they soon understood to be an expression of kindness and caring. This kindness—along with a desire to explore other cultures—was perhaps one of the most important parts of a study abroad trip which took place this summer.

Nine students spent 24 days in Turkey as part of the "Studio Arts and Art History" program. Many of the students who participated received KSU scholarships ranging from $500 to $1,500. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to obtain scholarships from KSU so I could travel. The scholarship program is hugely important,” says senior April Marten. The trip, organized by Professor of Art Lin A. Hightower, was designed to give students the opportunity to explore a new culture while allowing them to connect with the visual arts of Turkey, a country which has long been a world crossroads of many civilizations, such as the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman empires.

On the trip, Hightower kept students busy. Many mornings would begin with a discussion of the history and visual arts of Turkey. Following a large breakfast of local foods, students would head out on a site visit to an artist, school or archeological site. On these visits, students viewed artists at work and created art themselves in such forms as miniature painting, calligraphy, marbleizing and glass-making.

“The best part of the trip for me as an artist was visiting contemporary artists as well as individuals who are practicing traditional arts,” says Marten. “I saw how important it is to preserve traditional art forms.” Lunch was often home-cooked food provided by their hosts. Following lunch, students completed their workshops then headed back to their hotel for dinner and some rest. On free days, students had the chance to play tourist as they visited important historical and archeological sites in Turkey.

Before leaving on the trip, KSU students were in contact with students at Kocaeli University. Once they arrived in Turkey, students from both universities worked collaboratively to create a mural which is on permanent display at Kocaeli University. “I was really inspired by what other students were working on. It was like nothing I’d seen before. I’ve been inspired to come back to Kennesaw and put everything I can into my art,” says art major Ben Millican.

"I learned that, as American students, we should not assume that we know everything about other cultures that we hear through media or even our own history books,” says Marten. Millican agrees: “Being abroad has opened my eyes to the world and to global communication with different people. Now I know some college art students in Turkey and I can communicate with them and it becomes this global connection."



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