Washington, DC, April 3, 20080
Representatives of the United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation (UNCFSP) completed a visit to Turkey today. The visit was sponsored by the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) and aimed to enhance cooperation between American and Turkish universities, as well as increase the number of African American university students who choose Turkish universities for their study abroad destination.
The UNCFSP is an educational assistance fund that works with Historically Black Universities and Colleges and administers scholarship, fellowship and institutional grants that support African American students.
The seven-day-visit was initiated under the TCA Scholarship Program, which has allocated up to 50 scholarships per year for African Americans to study a semester in Turkey. The program is administered by Diversity Abroad, an organization that aims to increase study abroad opportunities for American minority students, who are much underrepresented in study abroad programs. According to TCA President G Lincoln McCurdy, who led the delegation, "This trip is an occasion for these educators to get a better understanding of what Turkey has to offer so that they can go back and encourage African American and other students to choose Turkey as a destination."
The nine member delegation held meetings with leading Turkish universities that offer study abroad programs and received various briefings about Turkey. The delegation also visited Georgetown University's campus in Alanya and historical sites, including Patara, home to the Lycian Federation, whose governing principles inspired the Founding Fathers and the United States Constitution.
"When we send students overseas, they typically want to go to European countries, but we think that if we offer Turkey as a destination, there will be some students who will prefer it because it's different," said Lea Williams, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. "For any young American who wants to pursue a career in international relations and who wants to become a key player in policy making, this part of the world is the hot spot," said TCA President Lincoln McCurdy. Adding that "Our hope is to develop ties and dialog so that there is a better understanding of Turkey in America," McCurdy said that one way to achieve that goal is education.
TCA also offers scholarships to American students of Turkish or Turkic descent, encouraging them to study in areas related to public affairs, as well as offers study in Turkey scholarships to American students of ethnic Bosnian and Macedonian descent. Similar programs are being considered for other ethnic minorities in the US.