Wheelock Strengthens Education Collaborations in Turkey


Wheelock College strengthened its collaborative relationships with several institutions of higher learning in Turkey through extended visits this spring by Wheelock faculty and the College’s Dean of International Programs and Partnerships.

Stephanie Cox Suarez works with early childhood teachers in Turkey
Stephanie Cox Suarez works with early childhood teachers in Turkey

Prof. Stephanie Cox Suarez met with 30 early childhood teachers in Diyarbarkir, Turkey, an area in the Southeastern part of Turkey that is within a few hours drive to the border of Syria and Iraq. Prof. David Fernie also visited this city in April. They said it has been helpful to coordinate their efforts in bringing ideas about play, observation, documentation, and developing portfolios to promote young children’s learning. Prof. Cox Suarez spent one day observing classrooms in three schools and then worked with teachers for a half-day workshop on Saturday to practice skills of documentation.

“We learned how to think differently, especially in this documentation process of taking notes, photos, and video, especially as we think about the before and after of the process,” said Derya Aslan, a kindergarten teacher who attended the workshop. “We are all used to taking photos, but we did not know the importance of this documentation process.”

Prof. Cox Suarez and Prof. Fernie are both Visiting Scholars this spring as part of a continued collaboration with Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey. This is Prof. Cox Suarez’s second trip to work with the faculty and teachers as the university develops a new program in early childhood and special education, as well as to provide support to teachers in their K-12 schools situated throughout the country.

Wheelock Dean of International Programs and Partnerships Linda Davis was also in Turkey in April as she presented at a conference and continued forging this new collaboration.

Dean Davis attended the first International Eurasian Educational Research Congress, through Wheelock College’s partner, Bahçeşehir University, at the invitation of Istanbul University (April 24-25, 2014).  The First International Eurasian Educational Research Congress was hosted jointly by Eurasian Journal of Education Research/EJER indexed by Social Sciences Citation Index and İstanbul University, which is one of the first established universities in Europe. Dean Davis’ keynote was entitled “Internationalization of Higher Education: Trends and Emerging Models.” (Click here to read a description of her keynote.)

During her visit, Dean Davis had an opportunity to follow up on the Wheelock College/Bahçeşehir University partnership, including the possibility of launching a joint course that would include travel components to Istanbul and Boston. The course under consideration is to be entitled “A Tale of Two Cites: Istanbul and Boston,” and is tentatively scheduled to be offered in the Spring of 2015, and taught jointly by Wheelock Professors Marjorie Hall and Edmund Campos, in collaboration with faculty at Bahçeşehir University.

Finally, Dean Davis held a meeting with a second university – Istanbul Kültür University (İKÜ) – with whom Wheelock signed a Memorandum of Understanding last month.  Wheelock Presidential International Visiting Scholar Ozge Hacifazlioglu, previously of Bahçeşehir, is now at Kültür, and is interested in an early collaboration, potentially beginning with an English immersion/study tour this summer.  Discussions are also underway on the possibilities of other areas of mutual interest.