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Melissa Crawford

Melissa Crawford

Boren Scholarships

Michigan State University


International Relations

I first took an interest in international affairs as an active member of my high school’s Model United Nations team. Turkey was the first country I had represented at a conference, and in researching my debate topics, I became fascinated by the country’s history, culture and politics. My interest in Turkey carried over into college: I competed on Michigan State’s Collegiate Model United Nations team, took two international affairs courses taught by a Turkish professor, and in my second year began taking Turkish language courses. By continuing my Turkish language education at Bogazici University as a Boren Scholar, I hoped to further advance my goal of acquiring fluency to prepare for a career in the government.

While in Istanbul, I took courses in Turkish foreign policy, Ottoman cultural history and international law. I also took language courses at Bogazici University. Later in the program, I took more intensive and specialized lessons at a private institution. The instructors were fantastic; I was able to get a different perspective on how Turkey’s policymakers, professors and students perceived political events in the region.

I also sought to improve my language skills outside of the classroom. I befriended Turkish students at the university and joined different clubs. I even found an internship with a local English-language newspaper. Even though the newspaper was published in English, everyone spoke Turkish in the office and I was able to improve both my listening and speaking skills. My internship exposed me to the daily political, economic and social issues happening in and around Turkey, and it was a great way to stay informed.

My Boren experience in Turkey equipped me with a level of experience and understanding of a country that I could never receive in a classroom. It also enhanced my academic coursework once I returned home. It was so much easier to write research papers about a country that I lived in for a year since I had more sources, better language capabilities and cultural understanding. In the future, I would like to complete my service requirement with the Department of State, ideally, in a position where I can use my Turkish language skills. 

Written: March 2012