It's time to flesh out some details for our Turkey trip....
(Please see the important update at the end of this section...)
Context? As the core of our Global Journey class we are offering a trip to Turkey this fall, specifically to Istanbul, Izmir and likely one more city. The cultural learning experience in Turkey will constitute the "content" component of this class and is made possible and will be facilitated by our Turkish partners. They will take responsibility for our program in Turkey by designing authentic inter-cultural experiences for us.
Itinerary? At this stage the itinerary is not yet set. However, here is one from a previous trip, for illustration. Istanbul will certainly play a major role. Many consider it one of the culturally richest and most beautiful cities of the world, and it will anchor our time Turkey.
Who? This trip is part of the our "Global Journey" class. Students who were registered in that class last year are also welcome to join. Apart from this exception, all participants must be registered (either fully or as an auditor) in the 2015 “Global Journey” course. There is a limit of twelve trip participants (first come, first serve, assuming acceptance of application materials by the trip organizers).
Apply? Provide a short CV of no more than a couple of pages. Indicate if you are clergy or not; whether or not you are currently employed or a student and what kind of leadership position you either hold or striving to hold following your graduate education. Please write a brief letter of no more than one page demonstrating how the knowledge and experience gained from the trip are likely to be useful for your positions of leadership in the community or employment. Email your application to Thorsten Moritz – firstname.lastname@example.org
Outcome? Ideally, participants commit to an outcome such as a blog post, a talk or a newspaper article etc. Include a very brief proposal to that effect in your application letter (above). Spouses who may be unable or unwilling to demonstrate that but who wish to come on the trip are asked to pay the unsubsidized cost for the trip (approx. an additional $400).
When? Oct 13-21, 2015 inclusive. Actually, we will meet in Istanbul airport on the afternoon of the 14th to begin our week together. Participants make their own way there from the US, ahead of time. Help with planning travel to Turkey is available. Some participants may chose to travel together (we will have meetings to coordinate this, if necessary). The latest possible flight leaving the US to get to Istanbul airport on time for our rendezvous would be on the morning of the 13th, assuming no flight delay. The return flight from Istanbul to the US can happen as early as the 21st, if desired. Since participants make their own flight arrangements, they are free to stay in Turkey longer or to explore other destinations before they make their way back to the US. If a participant arrives in Turkey late, there will be a local phone number to call and a taxi transfer will be arranged (cost to be covered by the late arriving participant).
Flight? Since participants book their own flights to Turkey, the time of booking is up to them. As of mid-August, flights from Minneapolis to Istanbul can be secured for as little as $800. It is possible that fares will go up closer to departure time. The sooner you email your application to Thorsten (see above “Apply”), the sooner you will receive a response and be able to book confidently.
How much? Flight costs are likely to be around $1000, including travel insurance, which is required. Plus approximately $1000 to cover costs in Turkey (incl. accommodation, domestic travel, meals and program). In other words, the total cost for the trip comes to approx. $2000 (plus course registration or audit fees – see below). Additional activities are optional and would have to be funded separately. The estimated $1000 for the air ticket and travel insurance will be paid by the participant to whoever they book their ticket and insurance with. UTSTC will not get involved in buying either flight tickets or insurance. Our Turkish partner will take care of all arrangements in Turkey. The above stated costs for your travel to and from Turkey and our time in Turkey are in addition to the normal course tuition fee. If you join the class as an auditor rather than a fully registered student, there will be a mandatory audit fee of $245. Contact the admissions team to register as an auditor.
Deadline? The initial deadline for joining this trip is Sept 1st. New students who arrive after that time can apply after that, space permitting.
Trip requirements? Standard requirements for trips such as this include (1) registration for the course, in this case “Global Journey”; (2) Proof of sufficient travel insurance; (3) Timely payments of deposits; (4) “Communal team spirit” and “cultural sensitivity and curiosity”. (5) A more specific requirement for this trip is the ability to walk well for a couple of miles at a time, such as when visiting ancient ruins. Sneakers are recommended for walking. (6) You will need a visa for entry into Turkey. The cost is approximately $20. You apply only at evisa.gov.tr. It is each participant’s responsibility to secure the visa ahead of time.
Advice: There will not be provision to do laundry. Make sure to bring enough clothes for the entire trip.
Alcohol? Moderate alcohol consumption is acceptable, but we cannot and will not expect our hosts or the NF to provide alcohol for us.
Course requirement? Participation in the trip is a normal course require since the trip constitutes the main course content. Should the tip have to be canceled, or in case of a registered student not being able to participate in the trip, the course will revert to a guided Independent Study for those affected in this way.
Deposit? Submit all deposits/payments and proof of travel insurance to Thorsten Moritz. The timetable and recipients for the two deposits and the final payment are as follows: The first deposit of $250 is due by Sept 1st and is payable to our partner, the “Niagara Foundation” (NF). The second deposit of $250 is due by September 15th and is payable to “United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities”. The final payment of $500 (payable also to UTSTC) plus proof of travel insurance are due by the end of September. Send all checks to Thorsten Moritz at UTSTC. He will forward them as appropriate. Write either "United Theological Seminary of the Tiwn Cities" or "Niagara Foundation" on the check (payable to) and put "Turkey" in the notes sections at the bottom.
Refunds? Deposits are only refundable if the trip is cancelled by UTSTC or our Turkish partners, or if the State Department issues a travel warning, thus making the trip impossible. If prospective participants pull out of the trip, no refunds will be made. If, following a travel warning by the State Department, participants proceed to travel anyway, that trip will be strictly private in nature. Consequently, UTS and NF will bear no responsibility. UTSTC is not responsible for trip cancelation costs other than the deposits. Make sure that your travel insurance covers you for that eventuality or that you are willing to bear the financial responsibility yourself in case of cancellation. Auditors can withdraw form the course and have their audit fee refunded if the trip is canceled by us.
Accommodation? Basic, comparable to between 2 and 2.5 stars. Mix of hotels, dorms, private. There will usually be two persons sharing a room, except where single accommodation is booked at an extra cost, if available (not guaranteed).
Activities? The focus will be firmly on educational and intercultural immersion. We will meet public figures and private individuals and families and will spend time with ordinary Turkish citizens. There will be a little bit of time for shopping in Istanbul. But if participants wish to do more than that, or explore more of Turkey, they are encouraged to arrive in Turkey a few days early or to spend some extra time there after the formal part of the study trip concludes on the 21st.
How many? We will cap the trip at approximately twelve participants.
Orientation? There will be an orientation meeting at the office of the Niagara Foundation in Columbia Heights, a couple of miles from UTSTC, on Sept 5, probably around 10am-12:30pm or so). Details to be announced.
Following the TRAVEL WARNING for Turkey issued by the State Department we have had to switch our travel plan away from Turkey and are now going to Fez, Morocco instead (upd. Sept 18th, 2015).