Although Martha Young finished her fellowship in Turkey in 2012, she has continued to be an active supporter of English language programs in the country for the past few years.
As a Fellow, Young was based in the capital city of Ankara, where she worked for one of the municipalities. Although most Fellows are based in a university, her project was a bit different. “Just like New York City has boroughs, Ankara is broken up into municipalities,” says Young. “My project was the municipality of Keçiören, which would be like saying my project was Queens or Brooklyn.”
In Ankara, Young began teaching English to the mayor and deputy mayors of the city as they receive many international guests with whom they truly wanted to interact. While she found it a great honor to be teaching the mayors, she wanted to get out of city hall and teach others in the city. After proving herself as both a talented educator and someone passionate about language needs of the Turkish people, the mayors asked her to help train language teachers in the community centers which include courses for languages, job training, and Ottoman arts.
The flexible nature of her assignment also allowed Young to work on a number of different projects all over the country. One of the main projects she worked on was a Ministry of Education initiative delivering teacher training modules to 81 cities across the country. Traveling up to four days a week, Young got to be in the trenches with the public school teachers grades 4-12 and learn many of the education challenges in the country.
Young engaged in other education initiatives around the country as well. She worked with other U.S. Department of State program participants such as Access students and Fullbright ETAs, which took her into private schools and public universities. She also started teacher training for the book publishing company Pearson and was involved in the launch of an IEP and an English Medium of Instruction (EMI) Divinity Program at the Ankara University Divinity School, going to campus to teach both the students and the professors there.
After finishing her fellowship, Young realized that she didn’t want to leave Turkey permanently: “They saw my dedication to the well-being of their teachers and at the end of my contract, they told me, ‘We trust your work and we hate to see you go.’” Many of the other institutions that she had helped also wanted to bring her back full time.
Building on the work that she had already started, Young returned to Turkey in the fall of 2012 and again in the spring of 2013 to work as an education consultant with people that she had gotten to know as a Fellow. She will be returning to Turkey shortly to continue her work with those institutions and to support other educational services in the country.
Young recognizes that her time as a Fellow opened the door to her career in Turkey. As a Fellow, she had so many opportunities to learn about all levels of education (both private and public) in the country and truly become an expert. “I felt like every curtain on education in Turkey got pulled back for me.”