Student Eager for NATO Role in Turkey

While she packs for an upcoming trip to Turkey, senior Elizabeth Oren is keeping an eye on world news reports.

Tensions are high in the Ukraine as Russian forces creep beyond their borders. Tragedy turns to anger as Turkish citizens react to a mine explosion that has left more than 300 dead. Oren watches the drama unfold and wonders how it will impact a new internship with NATO Center of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism (COE DAT) this fall.

“I’m very interested in social and news media,” said Oren, a double-major in French and Russian. “I’m intrigued by the development of international security trends. I’m particularly interested in Russia and Turkey; I’m analyzing the news and seeing how people react through social media.”

In October, Oren will begin a four-month internship with NATO COE DAT in Ankara, Turkey. As an intern, she will use her international studies background to assist in research, and utilize her language skills to support international conferences. (She also has a working knowledge of German and Serbo-Croatian.) Blending her language skills with social media analysis will play a part in her future career, she said.

“I think recent events show how important it is to give equal attention to developing international situations and the social reactions within that country,” Oren said. “It affords insight into foreign political and social change, and, for those of us in the U.S., we can better appreciate the struggles faced by those in the international community.”

Earlier this year, Oren received the inaugural Charles T. McDowell Scholar award from the Charles T. McDowell Center for Critical Languages & Area Studies. The McDowell Center supports students and faculty in their international research and work. Professor Mark Cichock (Political Science), director of the McDowell Center, said Oren has set “a very high bar” for future McDowell Scholars.

“Elizabeth has been an exceptional student in her time at UTA and her academic skills, personal maturity, and sense of purpose were all contributing factors in awarding her the distinction of being a Charles T. McDowell Scholar,” he said. “I really can’t think of anyone who would be a more fitting recipient.”

Oren spent three months in Istanbul last year in an intensive Turkish language class at the Dilmer Language Institute. She will return in June to complete a four-month session, while collaborating on research with Dr. Pete Smith on translating agglutinative languages before moving on to the NATO COE DAT internship. And she is excited to be back.

“I’m enamored with Turkish culture and the country,” Oren said. “It once existed as the massive Ottoman empire, creating a country of great diversity. And that contributes to the art they create, to how they preserve their history … and to the people you meet. You’re treated like a guest by pretty much anyone you meet.”

But the return trip will be bittersweet: Oren will miss the commencement ceremonies when she graduates in December. Still, she’ll be thinking about her classmates from the other side of the globe.

“I can’t imagine a better way to finish my time at UT Arlington than with this internship,” she said. “I’m excited about this incredible adventure, and grateful to Dr. Mark Cichock, the McDowell Center, the Study Abroad Office, and the College of Liberal Arts for supporting such extraordinary opportunities.”

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(Story by James Dunning/COLA)

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