Isabel de Katona, Barnard '19 and SIPA '20
As a self-proclaimed global university, Columbia's presence abroad is not only desired but is arguably a necessity. Facilitating study abroad programs through foreign universities is a step, but Columbia has taken it to another level. Citizen diplomacy is promoted in various ways by educational institutions and the U.S. government, and I see the Columbia Global Center in Istanbul as being a part of this. Even when study abroad programs are discontinued for safety concerns, the presence of the Global Center helps to build an enduring relationship between the peoples of the two countries. The long-term impact of this cannot be underestimated!
In terms of research opportunities, the Global Centers are primary resources for graduate students. However, when I visited I was interning at an NGO in Istanbul, and the community at the Global Center could not have been more welcoming and supportive. Columbia is my home right now, and having an extension of that home in my city abroad was incredibly reassuring. Aside from serving as a resource for information on how to navigate work and/or research, they offer the chance to engage more deeply with the academic community in the given city. Columbia students are resourceful and I have no doubt we would be able to find our own way, but being a part of a truly global university community, with local knowledge and resources, is invaluable.
By the time I graduate from SIPA, I will have spent five years of my life at one of Columbia's schools (Barnard and SIPA). That is a long time relative to my lifetime, and I have lived many moments on this campus, and in this community. Most of all, I have loved how it has become home to me, both the main campus and the Global Centers. Upon walking into the Istanbul Center, I was immediately welcomed with open arms, offered a space to rest, to organize events, and a network of people to support me. I already felt at home in the world, but knowing there is an extension of Columbia in 9 cities across the globe gives me just a little bit more confidence.