Tima Dasouki is an alumna of the 2020 CLS Turkish virtual institute hosted by TÖMER Institute in Bursa, Turkey. She’s a current undergraduate student at Boston University, where she studies international relations and Middle East North African Studies in the Pardee School of Global Studies. She is also the Operations Manager at Urban Refuge.
Getting to Know Tima
I grew up in Damascus, Syria with a strong sense of family. I was constantly surrounded by my grandparents, cousins and distant relatives and grew up in an environment where the family bond is a vital aspect of life. In addition to family, language was also an important part of society. To get by, one must be proficient in Arabic, English and French. Being trilingual at such a young age shaped my strong interest in learning new languages. When I was learning French in 2nd grade, each new word I learned excited me for the whole day and I would go back to my family repeating everything I learned in class. The excitement I get from learning new languages still remains as I learn Turkish.
Growing up in Syria, I was surrounded by Turkish culture without knowing it. My first introduction to the language and culture were through soap operas which depicted a nearly identical culture to what I experienced in Syria from food to traditions to customs. It is really exciting for me to learn a new language that is similar to my mother tongue and experience new aspects of the culture that are also rooted in mine.
While learning Turkish, I was fascinated by its similarity to my Arabic mother tongue. I especially enjoy how different the structure is from any language I have learned and the beauty in its simplicity. In Turkish, a single word can portray what in English would take a complete sentence to say. My favorite word in Turkish is “hayat dolu,” which means “full of life.” I think this word really speaks to me because it portrays exactly how I feel when I’m learning Turkish.
My professional goals are to be a Foreign Service Officer with a focus on the Eurasian region. With a strong knowledge of the language and culture, I hope to be integrated into the society in which I serve. I plan to use my language to better understand the country’s politics, history, and culture which would allow me to meet specific policy objectives like reporting on important issues or negotiating a mission.
Impacts of the Program
It really meant something to me when my Turkish professor, while meeting during her office hours one day, very curiously asked me “Tima, you’re always so excited to learn every day and your energy radiates through the screen; where does that come from?” I often don’t notice how strong my enthusiasm for languages comes off but that moment reminded me how refreshing it was to be given the opportunity to do something I truly love. It was so reassuring because I was reminded of my love for languages going back to first learning French in Syria.
Through the CLS Program, I was able to show my Turkish language partner that people from the U.S. all come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse interests. I practiced being a good citizen diplomat by reflecting the diversity and openness of U.S. citizens while developing strong and meaningful friendships.
A Word to Applicants
I wish every college student knew about the CLS Program; if I hadn’t researched language learning opportunities online, I would’ve never known about it. A lot of people in my community who enjoy learning languages think studying abroad is far out of their reach until I tell them about all the wonderful government-funded programs there are. CLS is truly a blessing for anyone who can participate and I hope to spread that message as much as possible.
May 10, 2021