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Touring Ruins of Monuments in Ancient Cities of the Roman Empire Gives TSU Students Summer Vacation to Remember

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Spending your summer vacation touring ruins of monuments of Greek gods and goddesses in the ancient city of Ephesus, part of the eastern Roman Empire, can be quite an experience. For senior Music major Requel Stegall, it was “beyond life changing.”

“I had one of the best educational experiences of my college career, said Stegall,” one of 18 students from TSU and three other TBR institutions, who visited Turkey on a three-week study-abroad program this summer. “Learning about a culture I was unfamiliar with really broadened my outlook on life and allowed me to discover myself even more.”

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Brianne Rucker, right (front), a TSU senior Music major, shares an earphone with a Turkish student during one of the students’ daily bus rides to or from class. (Submitted Photo)

Stegall and her fellow students, representing majors in Computer Science, Music, Human Performance and Sports Sciences (HPSS), History, and English, visited five cities and collaborated with students from three Turkish universities. The study-abroad program is organized through the Tennessee Consortium for International Study, and is the third to Turkey.

According to Dr. Robert Elliott, one of two TSU faculty members on the trip, this year’s visit engaged the students in academics, excursions and cultural exchanges with their Turkish counterparts. He and his TSU colleague, Dr. Ali Sekmen, professor and chair of Computer Science, taught combined classes with TSU and Turkish students as part of the academic experience.

“Teaching music, literature, and humanities in-country provided authentic learning experiences for students as they examined cultural differences and similarities,” said Elliott, professor and chair of the Department of Music.  “Along the way, students interacted with Turkish peers and learned that people of the world are not as different from one another as they had initially thought.”

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Two TSU students, Darrell Butler, left, an Architectural Engineering major; and Tim Darrah, majoring in Computer Science, study in their hotel room in Ankara, as they prepare for classwork the next day. (Submitted Photo)

Like Stegall, Sarah Needleman, an HPSS major, said the classroom settings and pairing with “our Turkish buddies” helped them to better understand the culture and traditions of the people and places they visited. “This study-abroad to Turkey was the best thing I have been a part of at TSU,” Needleman said. “I left Turkey not only with new subject knowledge in the music class I took, but also with lifelong friends – some in Nashville and some across the globe.”

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2015 study-abroad participants and their professors from TSU and three other TBR institutions join their Turkish peers for one last group celebration before heading back to the United States. (Submitted Photo)

Other TBR institutions with students in this year’s TnCIS study-abroad program to Turkey were Pellissippi State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Motlow State Community College and Jackson State Community College.

According to Sekmen, Turkish institutions that participated this year were Yasar University, Atilim University and Yildiz Technical University. Other cities visited include Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

“It was delightful to see how our students and their Turkish peers could develop life-long friendships in such a short visit,” Sekmen said. “With a right blend of academics, excursions and cultural exchange, the program provided a unique life-time experience for students from TSU and the other TBR institutions.”

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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 45 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.