Istanbul Center Stories: Rana Zincir Celal

Rana Zincir Celal was Senior Program Manager at Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul for 4 years and now she is the Deputy Director of the Atlantic Fellows programme.


August 08, 2018

You were Senior Program Manager at Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul for 4 years. Can you briefly describe your experience working at our Center, including the best part of your job?

Working with Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul was a truly unique experience. I greatly enjoyed the many opportunities to work closely with leading thinkers from a wide array of disciplines, connecting their ideas and initiatives into concrete, actionable projects. So along with offering an intellectually rich and stimulating environment, the Center worked on a very practical level as well, building relationships and partnerships, all with a commitment to advancing understanding and generating solutions to the key questions of our time. 


Rana Zincir Celal

How do you see the role of Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul in addressing global challenges and enhancing their understanding and knowledge?

Turkey's public intellectuals are among the most wise, experienced and engaged I've ever come across. There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience Columbia can tap into from through the Istanbul Center. Turkey really is a crucible through which very many contemporary challenges can be studied and assessed. The future depends on building strong connections across multiple levels and across diverse geographies to advance solutions to the world's most pressing problems.

How do you see Columbia programs in Istanbul contributing to the overall learning experience of Columbia and local students?

A well-designed, site specific learning experience can be absolutely transformative on many different levels. Such experiences build a range of competencies, broaden horizons and enrich perspectives in ways that cannot be achieved in the classroom alone. They also lead to meaningful relationships across borders and cultures, also vital in this day and age.  

What is your most memorable moment at Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul or Columbia University?

There are so many moments, but I fondly recall the seemingly quiet, hot August day when we circulated the announcement for Judith Butler's talk at the Istanbul Biennial. It took just a few minutes for a flood of of RSVPs to crash the system. 

The week we spent with the Women Mobilizing Memory group was a uniquely immersive experience – we ventured from alternative theatre productions to seminars and roundtables, from walking tours of the city to art exhibitions, using all these different modes to explore and understand the processes and impact of memory activism in Chile, the US and Turkey. I remember the intensity with which a rapt audience of artists and activists listened to an entire day of presentations at Depo. With almost no space left, people perched on the staircase to hear the proceedings. I was struck once again by the strong appetite for intellectual exchange which exists in Turkey.