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'Faces of America' in Turkey

ImageEight American students had their first international experience in Turkey this summer, where they participated in AFS-USA’s Faces of America program on scholarships from The American Turkish Society and partnering community-based youth organizations. The students, six of whom are from New York City, stayed with Turkish families in Bursa, Istanbul, Izmir, Samsun and Karadeniz Eregli.

AFS-USA’s Faces of America program provides scholarships for high school students from underserved communities to participate in summer exchange programs. The students were selected for participation in the program based on their records of community involvement and academic achievement and their ability to serve as cultural ambassadors. A significant portion of their program costs were met by the scholarships, and the participants also benefited from fundraising workshops and extensive orientation programs held before, during, and after their stays.

Outside of the United States, an average of 9% of students spend time abroad. In America, less than 1.3% of students participate in intercultural exchange, and only a very small percentage of this number are economically disadvantaged minority students, students from low-income immigrant families and other students facing serious economic hardship. In an ever-more connected world, access to cultural exchange is increasingly important in terms of both personal growth and future success in education and employment. Yet, the costs associated with foreign exchange programs often exclude participation by students in low-income families and underserved communities. For these youth, scarce educational opportunities have been further affected by the difficult economic environment of recent years.

Since 2008, shortly after the Faces of America program’s inception, The American Turkish Society has partnered with AFS-USA to address these hurdles by providing scholarships for disadvantaged youth to participate in summer exchange programs in Turkey relating to community service, language study, and cultural immersion. The Society and AFS-USA share a belief that “intercultural education provides the experience young students need to become compassionate, informed global citizens who are ready, willing and able to bridge cross-cultural divides.” Moreover, through this partnership, The Society seeks to increase American students’ knowledge and understanding of Turkey and offer the necessary incentives and opportunities to travel to Turkey, where participation by U.S. students in study abroad/exchange programs continues to be relatively low compared to other recipient countries.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07

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