Exploring cross-cultural exchange and international collaboration with Çağrı Sümengen

Exploring cross-cultural exchange and international collaboration with Çağrı Sümengen

08/23/2023 - 15:53

Educational institutions worldwide are increasingly recognising the value of cross-cultural exchange and international collaboration. These initiatives not only enhance the academic experience but also facilitate personal and professional growth. To gain a deeper understanding of such initiatives, we had the opportunity to talk to Çağrı Sümengen, a lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas), who shared her experiences and insights from setting up a new project and her exchange with Yaşar Üniversitesi in Turkey.
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Blended Intensive Project  

Çağrı's journey began with an Erasmus-funded project: the Blended Intensive Project. This project brought together BUas, Yaşar Üniversitesi, and other partners, in the academic year 2021 - 2022. It combined online coursework with in-person interaction at the university in Turkey.  

Çağrı, originally from Turkey, initiated the collaboration. The success of the initial project paved the way for an expansion of the collaboration: an exchange with a lecturer from Yaşar Üniversitesi. 

One-to-one exchange 

The interesting aspect of Çağrı's experience was the one-to-one exchange. While she went to Turkey last academic year, Dilek Melike Uluçay from Yaşar Üniversitesi came to the Netherlands. This exchange provided a fresh perspective on teaching methodologies and educational dynamics for both lecturers, fostering a mutual learning experience. 

Before her exchange, Çağrı was curious about the teaching methods and the connection to the industry at Yaşar Üniversitesi. She found that while both BUas and Yaşar Üniversitesi emphasized industry connections and student development, the approaches diverged due to Yaşar Üniversitesi's status as a privately-funded institution, in contrast to BUas, being a government-funded institution. With smaller class sizes and a focus on individualized teaching, Çağrı appreciated the personal connections she could establish with the students there. 

Transformative experience 

The exchange had a positive impact on Çağrı's personal and professional development. It provided her with an enhanced appreciation for BUas' educational environment and collaborative teaching approach. She realized the importance of valuing team dynamics, flexibility, and student-centred learning. Moreover, the experience highlighted the high expectations placed on students, reinforcing her pride in BUas' students and the atmosphere at our campus. 

Among the most rewarding moments of the exchange were the transformative experiences of students that participated in the Blended Intensive Project. Students' testimonials highlighted the project as a life-changing experience, a sentiment that underscored the value of international collaboration. 

Continuing and expanding collaborations  

The collaboration between BUas and Yaşar Üniversitesi is set to continue with annual rotations between host universities for the Blended Intensive Project. The collaboration aims to evolve by potentially introducing new projects and more staff exchanges, possibly with different duration. Additionally, a professor from Yaşar Üniversitesi will visit BUas one week in April to give our Creative Business students workshops and lectures.  

Çağrı Sümengen's experiences underscore the power of cross-cultural exchange in higher education. Such initiatives not only enrich the academic journey but also contribute to personal growth and the development of a global perspective. As educational institutions like BUas and Yaşar Üniversitesi continue to foster international collaboration, students and educators alike are poised to reap the benefits of these enriching experiences.