Curtis earns Fulbright to teach English in Turkey

Cori Curtis
Cori Curtis

May graduate Cori Curtis of Milford has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship from the U.S. State Department to serve as an English teaching assistant in Turkey this fall.

Curtis majored in international studies and political science and had minors in communication studies and human rights and humanitarian affairs. He is the eighth Fulbright from UNL announced this spring.

Curtis credits a class he took as a freshman for helping him focus his broad interests in the Middle East on Turkey. The communication studies course features a global classroom using distance-learning technology to connect UNL students with other students in Pakistan, Turkey and Russia. The interaction lets students practice their intercultural communication skills with students living in different cultures. Curtis said students in each country challenged each other to learn more about one another and to communicate their culture effectively.

"It was another platform that escalated my interest in international affairs, specifically in exploring Turkey," he said.

Charles Braithwaite, senior lecturer of communication studies and director of the Global Classroom, chose Curtis to work as a teaching assistant for the class, and Curtis was a teaching assistant for the class for Braithwaite and other professors since the spring semester of his freshman year.

"The insights into Turkish history, culture and daily life Cori gained from our Global Classroom connections means he will get along well in this environment and will significantly facilitate his research," Braithwaite said.

This will be Curtis' second trip to Turkey. His first trip was last summer, when he traveled to Istanbul to study at Yeditepe University. He spent three months studying the European Union and international law while learning about Turkish language and culture.

He said he is looking forward to having more time to learn about Turkey's culture, history and language.

"I think a long-term experience will really give me a better perspective and a better understanding of what daily life is like for a Turkish citizen," Curtis said.

During his Fulbright experience, Curtis said he wants to continue to do research on water as a human right, the topic of his senior thesis. He looks at water from social and environmental viewpoints, to view water as a basis for conflict.

"Water is something that is universally necessary for life," Curtis said. "It's so important but it's also so neglected."

At UNL, Curtis was a member of ASUN student government, and Innocents Society, the chancellor's senior honorary society. He also founded the Palestine Solidarity Committee. In Lincoln, Curtis was involved with the Nebraska Rural Electric Association, where he learned about working as a government liaison, and he had an internship with the Lincoln Commission on Human Rights.

When he returns from Turkey, Curtis plans to attend graduate school for diplomacy and security studies. With his degree he wants to work for the federal government as a Foreign Service officer. Curtis said studying international relations and political science let him serve others.

"It's my way of giving back to the world through taking my interest in the world and in politics and learning how to create policy to better society anywhere in the world," he said.

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of the 155 countries that the program operates. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international education program sponsored by the U.S. government. About 8,000 grants are awarded annually, and about 1,600 of those grants are awarded to U.S. students.

- Christine Scalora, Undergraduate Studies