Brandon Thomas decided to participate in the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program because of a personal interest in languages and a desire to pursue a career in international diplomacy.
The focus of Thomas’ master’s research is political, legal, and social issues in Turkey. In order to truly understand these topics, he felt that he needed to be able to access sources in Turkish.
“Because my school does not offer Turkish as a foreign language, CLS provided the only opportunity available to establish the language skills necessary to consult primary sources for my master’s research in the original language,” Thomas said.
Although his focus was largely academic, Thomas’ favorite part of the program was the connections he developed with his Turkish hosts.
“The fantastic hospitality and interrelations of institute faculty and staff was the most gratifying part of the program,” he said. “I am particularly grateful to have had such sincere hosts. It makes the immersion program a pleasure and promotes a quality learning environment.”
Thomas also benefited from the opportunity to network with other CLS participants.
“Sharing a passion for a language with other students from diverse academic backgrounds and high caliber educational institutions was truly rewarding,” he said. “The camaraderie and lasting personal connections I created with other CLS students will definitely continue to play a significant role in my academic and professional pursuits.”
Thomas had been to Turkey three times before the CLS Program. What surprised him from his recent visit was the rapid and radical development of the country in a short period of time.
“Simple things like the recycling bins in the airport, higher safety standards on roads, and decreased Internet censorship are subtle indicators that Turkey is indeed a rising regional power whose importance in future global relations cannot be overstated,” he said.
Thomas is a graduate student in International Relations at San Francisco State University. He has worked as a foreign language teacher in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and California.