Professor plans travel seminar class for Turkey

Professor and chair of the political science department, Carolyn Shaw, recently traveled to the Middle East for Model United Nations, which helps students become experts on global issues.

She enjoyed the time in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul.

“Istanbul is just fascinating,” Shaw said. “They’ve got I don’t know how many mosques all across the city and a little PA system broadcasting [the] call to morning prayer … It’s just very enchanting to wake up to that,” Shaw said.

Shaw is planning a travel seminar June 14 through 25 to Turkey, and anyone can join the seminar, even non-WSU students (for a $30 fee). The cost to go is $2,500.

The itinerary includes Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus. The trip is affordable for students because of a partnership with Raindrop Turkish House, a nonprofit founded by Turkish-Americans that sponsors intercultural trips to Turkey every year.

“It’s kind of in the early planning stages,” Shaw said. “We have cities and sights, but we’re still working on the final details.”

Usually Shaw takes students to Europe and the trip consists of 16 to 18 people, but the Middle East trip to Turkey will only include 10.

The seminar offers one or three credit hours of political science, and the requirements for the class are attending three sessions before the trip, reading to understand political and historical background of the country, and writing in a daily travel journal.

The seminar is designed for experiential learning.

“Usually one of the goals I [have] for the European trip is [for] students [to] come back and do it on their own,” Shaw said. “Quite a few students go back again on their own.”

In March 2014, senior Autumn Nance went on the Model United Nations trip with Shaw and nine other WSU students.

“My best memory from Turkey was when we were in the ancient Roman ruins,” Nance said. “We could walk through what were ancient Roman houses and we sat in their theater. It was so truly and purely beautiful.”

One of the important things about traveling to other countries is recognizing that people in other countries are just like yourself, Shaw said.

Nance was able to talk to native Turkish students during her stay.

“It was weird because, as a middle class citizen of America, we were definitely looked at like the top one percent of the world,” Nance said.

Shaw said that a normal concern for students is not knowing the languages of the countries, but she usually helps teach students enough to “politely inquire” a native if they know English.

“Knowing a few words gets you a lot of good will,” Shaw said.

The Syrian crisis in Turkey is located in the eastern part of the country, and Shaw said members of the travel seminar should have no more concern than they would have in any large city in the United States.

“Be prepared for culture shock,” Nance said. “Especially if you’re like me and have only been in westernized culture your whole life. There’s nothing bad about it, it’s just different. Be open to learning new customs and you’re guaranteed to have the time of your life.”

Students can enroll for the summer seminar (Pol S 399) starting in spring, but the payment dates are $500 by Oct. 15, $1000 by Dec. 1 and $1,000 by Feb. 1.

For more information, contact Shaw at [email protected], or check out the Middle East Travel Seminar page on myWSU.