Fusing culture and education


photo by Sury Rawat

Derek Wang

Kahveci spends time in Turkey, advances medical prowess
With a quick snip, the doctor severs the umbilical cord and quickly wraps the slightly blue infant in many layers. Shortly before, the doctor had sliced through the abdomen of the baby’s mother, making a clean incision in order to extract the treasure inside.
This process, called a cesarean section, or c-section, is usually only used if there are complications with a normal birth, such as if the child has its head facing up instead of down.
Senior Alp Kahveci had the opportunity to see this firsthand, along with many other medical procedures, during his eight week stay in Turkey with the program Teach and Travel.
“It was pretty cool to connect a lot of my [Honors] Anatomy [and Physiology] knowledge.” Kahveci said. “My favorite part would have to be the relationship building. While there, I met many people of different cultures that have helped me with important steps in the college application process, while also giving me advice for general life. This all happened through a program called FEBA — Federation of Balkan Americans.”
FEBA is a non-profit organization that strives to promote and preserve the rich and diverse Balkan cultures among the youth. FEBA hosts a variety of programs such as the Balkan Film Festival, Balkan Food and Culture Festival as well as sponsored trips to the countries of the Balkans. Mustafa Derahovic, the Midwest Coordinator for FEBA, founded the program in order to help youth of Balkan descent in America to remember their culture, Dr. Aras Konjhodzic, FEBA’s president, said.
“FEBA was founded by a group of Balkan American individuals with the goal and mission to promote Balkan cultures, unity and economic and political cooperation,” Derahovic said. “In an effort to strengthen the cultural and educational ties between the people of the United States and the Balkans, the Federation of Balkan American Associations organizes a broad spectrum of educational activities such as our Annual Balkan Leader’s Summit, lectures and seminars, leadership workshops, internships abroad for our college students, after-school programs, learning centers, language courses, SAT courses and informational programs.”
Kahveci said his time interning at the Sifa University Hospital in Izmir, Turkey, has reaffirmed his desire to become a pediatric pulmonologist. As a pediatric pulmonologist, one works with children from birth to 21 years old, primarily diagnosing and treating breathing and lung diseases. Kahveci said that the hands-on medical experience was very beneficial to his education, showing him how different kinds of doctors do their jobs.
“I gained a lot of exposure to the medical field, especially with regards to how hospitals function in foreign countries,” Kahveci said. “The surgeries that I observed firsthand were a great learning opportunity because most of the time, in the U.S., you can only sit in on a surgery during medical school. I observed multiple surgeries firsthand in the operation room. I also shadowed a pediatrician and I observed a physical therapist. At some points, I participated in the muscle stretches and movements with the patients.”
Not only did Kahveci learn from Turkish doctors, but also gave something back to the community he had become so fond of. Kahveci participated in teaching Turkish students English for three weeks at Selcuk Anafen Derhanesi, a local school in Izmir.
“Last year, FEBA took approximately 1500 students from all over the U.S.,” Kahveci said. “From Columbia there were around 10 of us. I heard about the program from my friend, [senior] Ahmed Krgo [who] goes to Hickman. I plan on applying again. I hope to be able to meet up with those friends again this upcoming summer.”
Derahovic said the opportunities that Kahveci experienced are the main reason FEBA exists. FEBA encourages all kinds of different people, usually of Balkan descent, to apply for one of the many programs that FEBA offers, such as Teach and Travel or FEBA Gap Year, to give students a chance to establish lasting connections.
“FEBA offers very diverse internship opportunities and international learning experiences,” Derahovic said. “Only two percent of USA students have the opportunity to go abroad. It is the lowest in the developed world; in the globalized world it is a serious handicap. Through these programs, FEBA is trying to open the doors of the world to USA students, especially Balkans.”
By Derek Wang
Learning from the best: Kahveci worked alongside some of the best doctors in Turkey, extending his vast anatomical and physiological knowledge during his eight week stay. photo by Sury Rawat