In May 2013, Akdeniz University partnered with Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey to offer Empowering Turkish Women Farmers, a summer International Service Learning Programs through the Rutgers Study Abroad Program. This Study Abroad program expanded on Suzanne’s Project, a pre-existing partnership between Rutgers University and Akdeniz University which was launched in Antalya, Turkey in 2011. The goals of Suzanne’s Project are to train Turkish women farmers on the best practices, tools, and basic skills necessary for them to sustain and scale profitable agricultural businesses.
The overall learning experience for the Study Abroad program was comprised of four main parts:
1) A structured academic component. This consisted of pre-departure background of the goals and purpose of Suzanne’s Project, an introduction to basic farm management and agriculture, followed in Turkey by regular lectures and group discussions. Assessments included required blog posts, a case study of a family farm, and regular participation in service projects.
2) The service portion of the program consisted primarily of observing and participating in Suzanne’s Project workshops and developing a case study to be used in future Suzanne’s Project classes. There were opportunities to assist host families on their farms to gain a sense of what life is like in a small, rural, agricultural village.
3) Homestays. During their time in Boztepe, students stayed in the home of a local family. This was designed to give students full immersion in the cultural habits and daily routines of the women in the village and their families, and to facilitate greater cross-cultural interaction through less didactic forms of educational and personal enrichment. This was also an integral part of the global learning experience.
4) Guided excursions to historical and cultural sites of interest. These group trips took place mostly on weekends. The majority of this cultural component took place on the final weekend in Istanbul. In addition to mandatory cultural excursions, there were also be a few recreational trips arranged in and around Antalya, including a trip with host families to the seaside and a visit with the host mothers and other village women to a have a famous Turkish bath.
|2014 Women in Agriculture Educators National Conference