Introducing Turkish Culture to Americans: Alyssa Mathias
Alyssa Mathias (CLS 2014 Turkish) is a Ph.D student in ethnomusicology and served as the head of the UCLA Turkish Music Group for the 2014-2015 academic year. She used her Alumni Development Fund to host two cultural workshops at UCLA. The first was a dance workshop with instruction from a Turkish dancer and ethnographer who has a background in a variety of styles from across Turkey. 10 students participated, representing five different departments; the instructor switched between Turkish and English so that the Turkish-language students could utilize their Turkish and build new vocabulary while those who did not speak Turkish could still benefit from the workshop. The second event was a music workshop instructed by a Turkish band; the band performed and taught the participants songs from Anatolia. 40 students participated in the workshop, and the members of the Turkish Music Group used the techniques and composition methods they learned to later give concerts at UCLA.
The Alumni Development Fund in 2014 awarded funding to 65 alumni from the 2014 cohort who submitted proposals for activities to assist with their continued language learning and/or professional academic development. Priority was given to applications that incorporated or explained how their activity would have a wider impact on others (e.g. students, CLS alumni, community).
2014 ADF projects covered a wide scope of topics and activities. Some projects focused on improving the awardee’s CLS language skills in order to indirectly affect the public through the creation of language materials, improving one’s effectiveness at their workplace, and sharing their research and CLS experience at national conferences. Other projects directly impacted others, for example through the creation of an international pen-pal exchange, language tables at universities, and community events highlighting their host languages and cultures.