Professor Nefin Dinc, left, and Dr. Ted Schwalbe face the media during a press conference in Turkey announcing their film project.
“This was an exciting and rare opportunity for our department...These students have a real desire to explore through film and video the changes and differences, culturally and socially, going on in their country.”
Aug. 10, 2009 -- Eighteen high school and college students from Turkey are visiting SUNY Fredonia in August and September as they finalize films they are making about democracy, human rights, and economic development, under the direction of SUNY Fredonia’s Department of Communication.
The 18-month Youth Filmmaking Project in Turkey, led by Chair Ted Schwalbe and associate professor and Turkish native Nefin Dinc, has been underway for a year.
The project, resulting from an $800,000 U.S. Department of State grant, has allowed 72 students from six Turkish cities to learn about strategies and tactics of video and filmmaking, as they express their views on important social issues. The grant ranks among the largest Fredonia has ever received for a project of this duration.
The 18 students are on campus for the last phase of their work: using Fredonia’s state-of-the-art computer labs for final editing and production. Screenings of their films will take place in Fredonia, Jamestown, Buffalo, New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Then, in January 2010, all 72 students will gather in Ankara for a film festival to show their work.
“This was an exciting and rare opportunity for our department,” Dr. Schwalbe said. “These students have a real desire to explore through film and video the changes and differences, culturally and socially, going on in their country.”
Students were selected from the cities of Konya, Antakya, Artvin, Mardin, Sivas, and Edirne, ensuring a broad representation of demographics. In all, 450 Turkish youth applied for the program.
Prior to starting the project, Schwalbe and Dinc met with Ross Wilson, America’s ambassador to Turkey, as well as U.S. Embassy personnel, national non-government organizations, and national media in Istanbul and Ankara. Dinc, who teaches filmmaking at Fredonia, then provided three weeks of training to each student group over the past year. She stressed that teaching filmmaking was only part of the project.
“Our goal was to get them to start talking about important social issues,” she said. “It was exciting to return home to lead such a worthwhile effort.”
This is one of several partnerships SUNY Fredonia currently has with Turkey.
Students at two Turkish universities are pursuing a dual degree program with Fredonia, thanks to an International Education Center program on campus. Last year, 12 students from Ege University — the fourth-oldest university in Turkey — completed their sophomore year at Fredonia, and will return in Fall 2010 to finish their senior year. This fall, a cohort from Izmir University of Economics is starting its sophomore year.
Also, Fredonia students took a three-week course in Turkey offered by English Professor Iclal Vanwesenbeeck in January. It focused on understanding a unique country that brings together Eastern, Western, European, Asian, Greco-Roman and Ottoman history and cultures.