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Talkin' Turkey

 

One new SCU grad prepares to use his Fulbright award to teach English

Aven Satre-Meloy, class of 2013, took two courses during his sophomore year that sparked an interest in Turkey—and ultimately led to his winning a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in that country for next year.

After Satre-Meloy graduates with a double major in political science and environmental studies, he will go to Turkey for nine months to assist English professors at the university level. Satre-Meloy, who is from Helena, Mont., is also completing a minor in international studies. He doesn’t know yet where he will be in Turkey, though it will likely be in one of the country's smaller town.

As a sophomore at Santa Clara, Satre-Meloy took courses in world geography and Middle Eastern politics.
 

“In both of those we were given flexible projects to write term papers on,” Satre-Meloy said. “In both I decided to write specifically about Turkey.”

This led to his interest in the Global Fellows Program run by the Leavey School of Business, which places students (from both the business school and other parts of the University) in internationally focused summer internships.

As part of the program, Satre-Meloy spent six weeks in Turkey between his sophomore and junior years, interning for a nonprofit cultural foundation. He also learned to speak a small amount of Turkish. When he returns to the country this fall, he hopes to take lessons to learn the language.

The six-week program gave Satre-Meloy a taste of intercultural interaction, and he came away wanting more. “I was really interested in interacting with students who lived in Turkey their whole lives,” he said.

The Fulbright program’s English Teaching Assistantships seemed like a good way to pursue this goal. The program places English teaching assistants in dozens of countries. Applicants apply for positions in particular countries, so they have to explain their interest in the country where they hope to teach.

Satre-Meloy views teaching English as an important tool for increasing cross-cultural understanding. Because the teaching assistants are native speakers, professors often rely on them to spend a lot of time conversing with students in English. Satre-Meloy hopes to use discussions of current events and American news to increase not only his students’ language proficiency but also their cultural knowledge of the United States.

Satre-Meloy’s strong academic record in a broad range of coursework—and his ability to see connections between different subjects—made him a strong candidate, said Dennis Gordon, professor and chair of political science. Gordon wrote a letter of support for Satre-Meloy’s application.

“What struck me was the ability to combine the technical part of environmental studies with his interest in policy,” Gordon said.

Although Satre-Meloy’s primary responsibility will be teaching, some teaching assistants are able to do research as well. He hopes to have the opportunity to research the intersection of religion and politics in Turkey.

“Turkey is a secular and democratic nation, but they have seen a transition back toward a more religiously conservative government,” Satre-Meloy said. “I’m going to be looking at that, and at what people’s experiences with religion are in a country that is secular and democratic.”

With so many interests, Satre-Meloy has a number of ideas about his long-term goals. “I am very interested in this aspect of cultural exchange and cultural dialogue and am potentially interested in looking at where I could fill a role in public service,” Satre-Meloy said. But he is also interested in environmental issues, including solar power. Graduate school in international relations, public policy, or possibly law is a possibility in a few years.

“These experiences are going to help me confirm and narrow down what I’ll be doing,” Satre-Meloy said.

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