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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Chris Matthews poses for a photo at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.
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Turkish table at Global Hub creates space for Turkish conversation, community

Students+study+in+the+Global+Hub+in+Posvar+Hall.+
Kelechi Anucha | Staff Photographer
Students study in the Global Hub in Posvar Hall.

The Turkish language table had its fourth meeting last Wednesday at the Global Hub in Posvar Hall. At Pitt, Turkish is part of the Less-Commonly Taught Languages program. The club, while fairly new, is growing in members ready to learn more about Turkish culture and converse in the language. 

At the meeting, club officers Melissa Akay, a junior biological sciences major, and Eda Kurtsoy, a sophomore biological sciences major, hosted a game of tombala, a Turkish game similar to bingo. Participants enthusiastically played the game, which served to break the ice at the start of the meeting. Around 10 members of the club, both returning and new, attended, in addition to the two officers. Both Akay and Kurtsoy voiced their surprise at the rapid growth of the club.

The club is a casual space to celebrate Turkish culture. Kurtsoy, the club’s treasurer, said Akay and club president Dannial Cardillo invited her to join last semester as they looked for students to take officer roles when creating the club.

“They reached out to me like, ‘Hey, we’re going to start this new club.’ [This was] right when I was like, ‘I wish there were more Turkish things to do on campus,’” Kurtsoy said. “There’s like several other organizations, but they meet pretty infrequently, and I haven’t been able to take part in many things. And when they reached out I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll be the treasurer.’”

The officers have big plans for the future of the club, including events with the Turkish community in Pittsburgh and local universities, going to Turkish restaurants and securing a larger meeting space to accommodate the growing club. Akay discussed the importance of authentic Turkish experiences and expressed her excitement for these potential new club activities.

“One of them was we’re thinking about going to a Turkish restaurant downtown, or anywhere for that matter, and being able to just eat together because, as a club, we can talk about the food, but it’s a whole different experience when you’re eating it,” Akay said. “So that would be cool, I think. And I think people would like to come to that.”

The Turkish department at Pitt is consistently working to raise awareness of their program and share their passion for the Turkish language and culture. Ilknur Lider, a Turkish professor at Pitt, said it’s important to encourage involvement in Turkish and other less commonly taught languages.

“I really would like to see the language component being emphasized in these academic majors and minors more than how it is right now.” Lider said “I think that it’s true through culture and participating in campus activities, [the Turkish department] represents and we let people know about these programs, but in the final analysis, it’s students that decide and their advisers decide, which courses they’re going to take to complete a major and minor.”

Akay said there are not enough community resources available for Turkish students at Pitt and other local schools, driving the need for the Turkish Language Table Club. Akay described a simple Facebook forum as one of the only traces of the Turkish community around campus, creating the need for a Turkish community space.

“It’s like a Facebook forum, like they help each other out, most of them emigrated [from Turkey] and it’s more ‘Oh, is there an apartment available for me,’” Akay said. “So it’s not like an organization. So we wanted to form a club where we can all just speak in Turkish, or not even that, but be able to come together and share a space.”

About the Contributor
Quinn Cilea, Staff Writer
Quinn Cilea is a junior English fiction writing and film and media studies major with a minor in Italian. He loves watching Chelsea, playing soccer and rock climbing. If he’s not out doing one of these things, he’s probably working through his long TV and movie watchlist or working on a music playlist.