Due to recent events in Turkey, the 2016-17 YES Abroad program was suspended. However, in coordination with the Department of State, we will monitor the security climate over the next year and hope to resume the YES Abroad program in Turkey in 2017-18 if conditions permit.
The Republic of Turkey, since its independence from the Ottoman Empire in October 1923, has balanced tradition with globalization and Western culture. Although 99 percent of the population is Muslim, Turkey has been officially secular since 1924. Nearly 75 percent of the country is Turkish; the other quarter is comprised mostly of Kurdish and a few other minorities. Thus, while the official language is Turkish, it is common to hear Kurdish spoken. In any of these languages, Turkish citizens will often discuss the role of religion in government and questions of ethnic identity.
Turkey's climate is mostly temperate, and its two largest cities are Ankara and Istanbul. While Ankara is the nation's capital, Istanbul is about three times its size, and is the only city built on two continents, touching both Asia and Europe. The city, much like the rest of Turkey, blends aspects of Middle Eastern and Western culture in nearly every capacity. Yogurt, bread and rice are an essential part of any meal, followed by Turkish coffee and desert, or baklava. A blend of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and Balkan cuisines, Turkish food is one thing that has remained a staple of traditional Turkish culture.
Turkey is home to historic sites such as Aspendos and Phaselis from the Roman period, and the famous Antalya Riviera on the Mediterranean coast. Like Turkish food, these historic sites hold value within its modern society.
Learn more about being a YES Abroad student in Turkey:
Students will live with host families in order to experience true immersion in the local culture. Families are selected based on recommendations by members of the local community, and each is carefully screened by AFS staff and volunteers. Families are carefully vetted through a thorough application process and are highly regarded by their relatives and neighbors. Hosting communities exist through the presence of a strong support network, with a local volunteer, staff member, or "liaison" available to each student hosted in the community.
Students will attend a public or private school. The primary language of instruction will be Turkish. School typically runs Monday to Friday, and uniforms are customary. Students may have opportunities to participate in a limited amount of extramural and extracurricular activities, such as drama, music, and sports.
The United States enjoys good relations with Turkey. It is an active member in organizations such as NATO, WTO, and also held a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council from 2009-2010.
For more information, visit the CIA World Factbook.
With AFS's 42-year presence in Turkey, we are able to draw on strong local connections for a deep understanding of the intercultural, health, safety, and security issues. Prior to departure and upon arrival, students are given safety briefings by AFS staff. They will also receive security information from the U.S. Embassy’s Security Office, and will be registered for the Embassy’s travel alert system. AFS works closely before arrival and throughout the exchange year to discuss and prepare for students' well-being. YES Abroad students are covered by medical as well as Political and Security Evacuation Insurance. Students will have access to a 24-hour emergency number, and our staff members are thoroughly trained. Each student will be given a cell phone upon arrival and will be given the contact number for their local support representative and his/her national AFS-Turkey office. In the case of an emergency, a Duty Officer is on-call 24/7 in both Turkey and the United States. This number is made available to both students and their parents while on program. For further information on Turkey, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.
Students will have the opportunity to take part in various activities to increase their interaction with local peers in Turkey. Activities may include field trips, sporting events, cultural excursions, social outings, and community service projects. Examples of previous enrichment activities include:
- Meeting with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy;
- Trips to various cultural or educational sites;
- Community service activities, such as volunteering with organizations for children with disabilities or at orphanages;
- Traditions and crafts, such as Turkish folk dancing, paper marbling, and traditional music.