SUNY New Paltz hosted its fifth annual Turkish Culture Night, a celebration of Turkish culture and cuisine, at the end of the spring 2016 semester. The event offers the College’s many visiting Turkish students a feeling of familiarity, and helps introduce their American peers and colleagues to the music, language, food and customs of their home nation.
“Turkish Cultural Night event is always such a fun evening,” said President Donald P. Christian. “SUNY New Paltz has a long and proud tradition of valuing cultural diversity and international education. Our Turkish students contribute to a rich learning environment here on campus, and it’s in a spirit of recognizing those contributions that we again take delight in hosting this evening’s event.”
Turkish Cultural Night is a major event in the programming schedule of the YÖK-SUNY Dual Diploma program, which allows international students to earn two diplomas by attending classes at one of several universities in Turkey and also at one of 11 participating SUNY campuses.
A total of 523 Dual Diploma students have graduated from New Paltz since the program arrived here in 2004, with about 50 more expected to join these distinguished alumni at this year’s Commencement ceremony. The College’s outreach efforts with Turkish students have led it to grow into the second largest Dual Diploma program in the SUNY system.
“The best thing these students get from this program is the international educational experience – the travel, the language immersion, the exposure to American culture and the ability to adapt to different environments,” said Kathleen Bauman Geher, director of the Dual Diploma program for New Paltz. “They return home to Turkey with a skillset that really does set them apart as they seek competitive jobs with multinational companies.”
Among the supporters of the Turkish Culture Night tradition is alumnus and State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill ’77 (Political Science), who was on hand to enjoy the food and explain his role in helping launch the first installment of this event five years ago.
“I had a meeting with some Turkish students one year, and I asked them what they thought was the best part of coming to New Paltz,” Cahill said. “Everybody had a different answer, and they named so many great things about coming here: the scenery, the facilities, the academically rigorous programs, the opportunities to interact with people from all over the world and so on. When I asked them if there was something they didn’t like, they said, ‘We miss our food.’ So now, every year, with the help of the Turkish Cultural Center, we put on this event, with plenty of food for everyone to enjoy.”