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From Minnesota to Turkey and Back: The Impact of a Colonial Dames Scholarship

Sreytom Tim and her mentors

One of the visiting faculty members in the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC) this year is a familiar face on the University of Minnesota campus. Dr. Aslı Çalkıvik graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2010 after earning a master's and Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and Political Theory. She taught in her home country of Turkey, and has now returned to teach and continue her research in Minnesota—the place she says is home.

A Gopher is Born

When Asli chose to attend the University of Minnesota, she was not picking the easiest option. She had also been accepted by Cornell University—with full funding. Asli was impressed, however, by the U of M political science program and the people in Minnesota.

"Both the faculty and graduate students alike were and are very engaged and truly caring about global political issues," she says. "I also liked the [very] welcoming, friendly environment that one cannot easily find in a graduate school."

That decision meant she had to work hard to get settled.

"I arrived in Minneapolis with very little money, and it is very costly to start building your life in a new place—renting a place, buying the minimum requisites such as a bed, a lamp, etc. Once you are a bit settled, [and] made the initial investments it gets a bit better, but the beginning was, simply, very hard," she explains.

That is why she applied for, and received, the Colonial Dames Scholarship. She says the scholarship helped her through those "very tough days" as she started her studies in Minnesota.

"...As I was applying for the Colonial Dames Scholarship, I had less than $10 to live [for] the next two weeks. What I remember from [applying for the scholarship] is neither the desperateness I felt at the time nor the helplessness that one feels in such situations…" she says. "All I remember is the feeling of empowerment—I was amidst people who cared."

To Turkey and Back

Asli returned to Turkey after graduation and became an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Istanbul Technical University, teaching courses on International Relations and World Affairs. But she never forgot her time at the University of Minnesota; in fact, her faculty website is filled with pictures of familiar Twin Cities landmarks like the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Lucy statues in St. Paul.

That's why she was very excited when she received an offer from ICGC to teach and continue her research in Minnesota for the 2016-17 academic year. She taught two courses this fall: an introductory course for undergraduates on Global Politics and a Ph.D. seminar on The Ways of Knowing, which all ICGC fellows take. She is continuing her research this spring. "It is wonderful to be back in—what is by now—home. I had missed so much the lively intellectual atmosphere, all the talks, the panels, and of course the Wilson Library."

Date Published: March 2017

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