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ashleigh starnes, turkey, 2015-2016
Fulbright Scholar Ashleigh Starnes

Fulbright Year: 2015-2016
Country: Turkey
Proposal Type: English Teaching Assistantship
UGA Undergraduate Majors: English, Linguistics
Graduation Date: Spring 2014 (Bachelor’s)
Hometown: Grayson, Georgia

When Ashleigh Starnes arrives in the Turkish province of Tokat, she’ll bring skills in two distinct disciplines – English and folk dancing – with her.

Ashleigh will work as an English instructor at Gaziosmanpaşa University in Tokat, and she plans to organize a folk dance program that should go a long way in helping everybody involved with their language skills.

“I’ll be organizing a casual after-school folk dance program to share my personal knowledge of traditional dances from around the world, as well as to offer an environment external to the classroom in which to practice new language skills,” Ashleigh says.

Ashleigh clearly has a solid background in dance. She taught ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, and modern dance at studios in metro Atlanta and took several dance classes at UGA, including a semester of folk dance. She says she plans to share the steps she learned at UGA with her folk dance friends in Turkey.

Ashleigh, who is proficient in Arabic, Italian, Spanish, and French, not only enjoys learning languages, but also sharing her love of languages with others through teaching. She worked as a conversational tutor at UGA and took several courses on second language acquisition. Ashleigh served as a volunteer at the Athens Latino Center for Education and Services, and while in a study abroad program in 2013 in Costa Rica, she volunteered at an English camp.

It was during the time she was teaching English conversation for international graduate students that Ashleigh became seriously interested in Turkey.

“I met several Turkish students while tutoring English conversation, and I was inspired and intrigued by their descriptions of the diverse cultural climate of Turkey,” she says. “I hope to become as familiar with the Turkish language as possible in order to bond with those welcoming me into their culture.”

Ashleigh says she most looks forward to experiencing history firsthand.

“The United States is only a few hundred years old, but Turkey belongs to the cradle of civilization,” she says. “Turkey has a past whose breadth I cannot possibly understand without seeing it for myself. I’m very lucky.”

At the conclusion of her Fulbright term, Ashleigh plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English language or a MFA in creative writing.

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