Cadets share Turkish experience in seminar
Corps members reflect on international similarities
Published: Friday, February 28, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 00:02
As part of the Turkey: Tradition and Transformation 2014 conference on Friday, members of the Corps of Cadets will discuss the insight they gained from their trip to Turkey in January.
The presentation “Current Perspectives on Turkey” will focus on research conducted on the DIMER acronym — diplomacy, information and media, military, economy and religion and culture — during their 11 day visit to the Republic of Turkey. This is one of the three International Excursions that the Corps conducts throughout the year to allow cadets to learn about the various diplomatic, military, informational economic, religious and cultural issues that affect foreign countries and how those issues are of importance to the U.S.
Andrew Abbott, senior petroleum engineering major, will open the presentation with an overview of the research the group of cadets conducted. He said the most interesting part of his experience in Turkey was seeing how it remains a secular republic despite religion permeating through every part of Turkish culture.
“Religion has so much influence on the rest of the culture because religion permeates through the way you do politics, the way your economics and business work, the way you do education, the way you view other people,” Abbott said. “Because of that, being almost entirely of a different religion than what we have here, it’s extremely different in every aspect.”
Ross Brady, senior urban and regional planning major, is in charge of the military aspect of the presentation and will cover the military history of Turkey from the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 to present day. Brady said the Turkish military is a regional powerhouse similar to that of the U.S., but bears some structural differences.
“They have mandatory conscription in their nation so every man between the ages of 18 to 30 has to serve for a year in the military,” Brady said. “Structurally that makes their military a little different because that means the NCOs are not trained as well because they are just serving for a year, so they serve more secretarial roles than our NCO’s do. But it’s a great, highly trained military and they’re one of the only other nations besides the U.S. that fulfill this military requirement for NATO.”
Brady said the presentation will show that the globalization of today cannot go overlooked.
“It truly is a global world that we’re living in today and anybody who thinks that they can just be focused on America, that America doesn’t need to be involved in world affairs, in my opinion is wrong,” Brady said. “There is so much interconnectedness in the world today and having the opportunity as a student to travel like this is invaluable.”
Junior political science major Adel Hussain will cover the information and media section of the presentation, focusing on how Turkey deals with Internet freedom, press freedom and how Turkey uses information as it attempts to reform itself closer to a European-style democracy.
Hussain said what struck him was the differing ways Turkish youth and American youth utilize social media.
“The millennial generation that we were talking to, all college kids, they’re on Twitter, they’re on Tumblr, they’re on Facebook, they make their own memes over current events that are happening and they use social media as a catalyst for some of the demonstrations that occurred back in July, similar to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that happened within the states,” Hussain said. “Over there the youth culture, they’re incredibly vocal about how they feel about different issues that are impacting the country.”
Hussain said the trip to Turkey had a particularly huge impact on him because of his Muslim background, having never before visited a country that was predominantly Muslim in faith yet still secular in government.
“It really impacted me because as a westernized Muslim, I had never seen a full nation of people that embraced Western style with the Islamic religion,” Hussain said. “In terms of what I believe an Islamic democracy should be, Turkey is the perfect example of that type of nation.”
Abbott said the entire process, from going on the trip to being a part of the closing presentation of the Turkey conference, has been an honor.
“The trip was sponsored through the Corps of Cadets and fortunately, as far as finances go, it was very, very easy on us and so I’m just so thankful for the opportunity to not only go on the trip but to also be able to share my experience,” Abbott said. “It really just opened my mind to international travel, to being able to know how beneficial and educational a trip overseas is.”
The presentation will at 2 p.m. in the General Services Complex.