June 22, 2011- A nine-day trip overseas has three Fort Valley State University students shifting their view of the Middle East.  Marketing students Chaslyn Hawkins, Maketa El and Christopher T. Johnson visited Istanbul, Turkey as part of a study abroad program sponsored by Georgia State University’s Center for International Business, Education and Research (GSU-CIBER) and CNN. “Before I visited, I thought that the Middle East was unsafe,” said Hopkins, a senior. “I used to think it was all bad, filled with terrorism, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But, I found that prejudging is overrated.”

Hopkins and her classmates are reaping the benefits of the business department’s effort to globalize its curricula and identify more study and work abroad experiences for FVSU students. The travel opportunity came about after the university joined a consortium of colleges in the southeast through the Southeast U.S. Higher Education Consortium for International Business.

“Student participation in the study abroad programs is one of the benefits of our participation in the consortium,” according to associate professor of business, Dr. Aretha Hill, organizer of the study abroad initiative.

To qualify for the trip, marketing and accounting students attended a January 2011 meeting, wrote an essay and completed an initial interview with Hill, the FVSU business department faculty and a final interview at GSU. The top three candidates were selected from more than a dozen FVSU students.  Later, finalists took classes in business journalism to learn about the country’s political environment and practices at GSU and CNN’s Atlanta headquarters. They also learned phrases to communicate with residents.

Students learned about how the Turkish government and business system works compared to the America system differed from America’s. The country is more authoritarian with sultans are in charge of corporations—unlike in America where chief executive officers are decision makers.  They also met Turkish students at Marmar and Beija Universities who spoke fluent English and communicate in more than one language.  “The universal language of business is English,” says Johnson. “It is paramount to know English, so they introduce it an early age.”

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