New Class of Brown Fellows Travels to Turkey
August 30, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
Turkey on the first of the promised summer enrichment
experiences included in their scholarships. Above, the entire
group in front of a mosque in Turkey.
The group of students bonded during the trip overseas. “After
we got back, we were family. Plain and simple,” says Grant
Nation ’16. Above, some of the Brown Fellows at a geological
formation in Turkey.
This academic year marks the fourth year the Brown Fellows Program has been in place at Centre—and the first year that Brown Fellows will be represented in every class. The program is funded through the generosity of the James Graham Brown Foundation.
Students selected to be Brown Fellows are awarded “full-ride-plus” scholarships, which includes four summer enrichment experiences, beginning the summer before their first year at Centre.
Brown Fellows in the Class of 2016 recently took their first summer group trip to Turkey with Beau Weston, John M. and Louise Van Winkle Professor of Sociology, who is acting as a mentor for the Brown Fellows for this class and next year’s.
“Since in all subsequent summers, the Fellows will be pursuing individual projects all over the world, the summer before their first year is really the only time that all twenty fellows and their mentors can spend some time learning and bonding together,” Weston says. “The decision to do so through a trip abroad was made by the Brown Foundation to promote the notion that the Fellows should explore the world.”
Fellows from both Centre and the University of Louisville traveled to Turkey together for two weeks this summer and completed assignments while there. Weston was glad that the Brown Foundation chose Turkey as this year’s destination.
“Turkey is an unusually strategic country just now, both politically and culturally,” Weston says. “While we visited sites from many eras of Turkish history, we were particularly interested in the current cultural developments as the mildly Islamist ruling party negotiates cultural change with the strongly secular military.”
Traveling to Turkey was the first time some of the students had ever been abroad—but even those who had left the country before agreed that they’d never been anywhere like Turkey.
“For my first time abroad to be a Middle Eastern, non-English-speaking country was a little daunting,” says Grant Nation ’16. “It’s amazing how little elements of everyday life can be almost identical halfway across the world, yet large concepts and ideas that many would call the ‘human experience’ are so different.”
“This was the first time I've ever been abroad, so the trip to Turkey was unlike anything I've ever experienced before,” says Rachel Geil ’16. “From the time our plane landed in Istanbul, it was a whirlwind. Turkey has such a variety of attractions, from the bustling metropolis of Istanbul to the awe-striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia and beautiful mosques like the Hagia Sophia.”
Traveling throughout Turkey gave the Brown Fellows the chance to see some amazing sights—and make some lasting memories.
“I particularly enjoyed the Cappadocia region of Turkey—the rock formations and landscape in that area is absolutely breathtaking,” says Nation. “Also among the rock formations are caves and underground cities carved by Christians attempting to avoid Roman persecution, and walking inside those tunnels was awesome.”
“I think Turkey’s awesome constructions and the Salt Sea are the parts that surprised me most,” says Qinpu He ’16, an international student from China.
The trip also provided the students a slew of learning experiences, as well as a greater appreciation and understanding of Turkey’s culture.
“When we moved out of Istanbul and into the more rural parts of the country, we were exposed to even more new cultural differences and sights,” says Christopher Brittain ’16. “Many of the townspeople in these rural areas were more religiously conservative and wore head scarves even in the middle of summer, and I saw one woman baking in an outdoor stone stove.”
Everyone who went on the trip agrees that it certainly brought them closer as a group.
“The trip to Turkey was not only great for the Brown Fellows to see the world but it also helped form amazing friendships that will surely stick for the years to come,” says Matthew Hughes ’16.
“After we got back, we were family. Plain and simple,” says Nation.
“We grew so close in just two weeks, and I have a feeling that they will be some of my closest friends going forward,” says Geil. “It's definitely made me excited about taking advantage of all the study abroad opportunities at Centre.”
Now that their first semester of college is officially underway, the Brown Fellows in the Class of 2016 are already anticipating what new adventures and experiences lie ahead at Centre.
“I like the atmosphere of Centre most,” says He. “I like this small campus, which is great for study and meeting people. I hope I can get into American culture as fast as I can.”
“I am looking forward to the academic opportunities offered at Centre and the closeness with the faculty, who will help make my academic goals come true,” says Brittain.
“I'm looking forward to getting to do some research, strangely enough,” Nation says. “My whole life I've been obsessed with science and chemistry; now that I have research projects and labs at my fingertips, I can't wait!”
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.