English Language Fellow Melissa Van De Wege facilitated a discussion about cultural identity with women from the English conversation club of the Turkish-American and International Women’s Cultural and Charitable Society (TAIWCCS) in Ankara, Turkey this week. Fellow Van De Wege and women from TAIWCCS gathered for an interactive discussion about cultural differences and similarities between Turkish and American culture. Van De Wege enlivened the discussion with materials from the American English website that aligned with the theme of Integrating Critical Thinking into the Exploration of Culture. The women reflected on their own cultural experiences in travel, work, and family lives. They connected those experiences to how they found ways to adapt culturally and grow as individuals. “I was able to reflect on my life and cultural identity and how I’ve been able to adapt whether at home or traveling abroad,” said Hilal Onat, a TAIWCCS member.
TAIWCCS has a long and storied history promoting women’s empowerment in Turkey. The organization was formed in January, 1950 to foster and promote bicultural, educational, and social exchanges between Turkish and American women. The society is made up of several committees that plan and carry out programs to support organizations throughout Ankara, Turkey’s capital. As a member of TAIWCCS, Van De Wege reached out to the English conversation club as a form of community outreach in Ankara. This connection actively fostered mutual understanding between women in TAIWCCS. Women were encouraged to cultivate a growth mindset in themselves and continue on a path of lifelong learning through critical reflection as they interact with people from all parts of the world. Reflecting on that theme, Onat concluded, “I can share with others how being willing to constantly learn and grow is one of the most important parts of identity.”