Jeremy: Tell us about yourself, for example, the program/research, year, where you’re from, what you like to do for fun.
Derya: My name is Derya - it is originally a Persian name that means sea and ocean which I love. I am a dual-major PhD candidate in Education Policy Studies and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. With two degrees combined, I do research in Comparative Islamic Education across regions and also time (mostly in the modern era). I am originally from Diyarbakır in southeast Turkey. For fun, I go hiking and have recently been interested in exploring the underground caves in the Midwest. I also love to cook and bake and I can be a competitive chef in the kitchen. I definitely know that I do not want to stay in academia my whole life and switch to the world of 'restauranting' at some point.
Jeremy: How did you initially connect with the CGC? How has the CGC/CGC programming impacted your experience at IU?
Derya: It was my first year as a PhD student and I was looking for further opportunities to get involved with in my first summer (2017) here in Bloomington. My roommate at the time told me about CGC. I sent an e-mail to Dr. Konwest earlier in the spring of that year, scheduled a meeting to introduce myself and have been involved in one way or the other since then. With CGC, I was able to see that there is a lot going on at our campus outside the School of Education. There are so many projects, conferences/symposiums, study/writing groups, gatherings, etc. that I have been part of by attending, presenting at, working at, or simply through volunteering. It has been simply amazing to meet other fellow grad students from different disciplines and backgrounds, come together with them to share our experiences and also collaborate on projects.
Jeremy: What is your favorite CGC program/event from this past year?
Derya: Considering that it was the COVID-19 year, this is a bit difficult to answer honestly. I would say the Muslim Voices workshop on blog writing.
Jeremy: Besides being a frequent participant in CGC programming, you are also actively involved in the Muslim Voices project. Tell us about how you became involved in the project and what you, personally, hope to achieve through it?
Derya: So similar to how I got connected with CGC in the first place, I took the initiative to reach out when there was an e-mail announcement introducing the project. When I met with Dr. Konwest to learn more about the project, I showed my interest for volunteer opportunities and now I am in the team! Wohoo!
Jeremy: What is your favorite aspect of the Global Studies Building? or What is one small thing you miss from pre-COVID life?
Derya: Global Studies Building is a truly global and intercultural building with so many people coming from all over the world with different ethnic, national, racial, language, and religious backgrounds interacting with each other. I love how the building is designed and decorated. Especially the National Geographic pictures on the 3rd floor (MELC department) are from different Middle Eastern countries that I love seeing. Global Studies Building is where I feel connected to my roots, my international backgrounds and also to my major, my profession. In other words, there I feel part of everything with everything I have accomplished so far regardless of where I came from. One small thing that I miss the most from pre-COVID life, and I am not sure if that is really small or not, is in-person gatherings (especially conferences, cultural events, semesterly lectures) followed by delicious receptions with shrimp - oh well I love shrimp!
Thank you for spotlighting me!