The University of Arizona (UA) Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) conducted a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad Teach Ottoman Empire program, which took twelve full-time K-12 educators to western Turkey and the Balkans for a short-term seminar and curriculum-building study tour. The travel portion of the program took place for four weeks during the summer of 2009. The program enabled educators to integrate area studies and language exposure into many segments curriculum. Two UA personnel led the group: the CMES Outreach Coordinator, who served as Project Director and is also a scholar/expert on the Balkans, and a UA professor of Ottoman History, the Scholar-Escort of the project. The focus of the project was to study the process of cultural exchanges in a borderland region.
Objectives of the program were to:
- Develop teachers’ knowledge of the history, geography, cultures, and languages of this little-known but extremely significant, long-lasting empire (1299-1923), which served as a cultural bridge between Asia and Europe, between the Middle East and the Balkans.
- Explore the rich cultural diversity found up to the present time in this important borderland between Eastern and Western civilizations. Program participants explored issues of linguistic and cultural diversity and, conversely, of cultural diffusion, the sharing of ideas throughout the region. Participants also explored the relationship between past and present, how institutions and concepts from Ottoman times have exerted a profound influence on contemporary events.
- Provide American teachers the opportunity to meet with educators in several countries. This established an international dialogue about ways to present these concepts within the classroom and led to the development of collaborative projects between American and overseas students.