ICO started a new online project on Instagram for KU community in April 2021 to facilitate cultural exchange among the community members. The Cultural Showcase project allows KU community, regardless of nationality, to notice how other KU members perceive the world and what customs they adopt in their daily lives. This project does not provide only a great opportunity to observe various practices and traditional approaches but also helps promote the community spirit during the pandemic.
The project asks KU community members to share their daily routines, cultural elements, beliefs, hints about their hometowns and such, through email. The visual and written content they share with ICO gets edited if needed. After the approval of the content owners, they are published on the ICO’s Instagram account. The first post was on April 28th, 2021, and the office is looking forward to receiving more content from the community members
The outbreak of COVID-19 created radical changes in people’s lives, and there was considerable obscurity back in March 2020.As an acute action, ICO hadgathered the related information, created a mini-FAQ on the possible effects of the pandemic on residence permits, and published them on its website. However, ICO observed a necessity to provide accurate information flow to the KU international community on a regular basis because of the rapid changes in regulations, the frequency of news, and the fact that those announcements were mainly in Turkish language. Therefore, the office started publishing News Updates on KU Daily on April 1st, 2020. While the appreciation comments motivated the office, the feedback and observations opened new windows for development. As the situation with the pandemic became more predictable, ICO switched the format to Weekly News on October 22nd, 2020, and kept publishing it on KU Daily. The new format focused more on news that might interest the international community. With the gained experience and the received requests, the Weekly News was reformatted again as Bi-Weekly News on April 16th, 2021. The current format is sent in PDF format to KU international community members individually via email. The latest version is warmly welcomed by the community and met the requests.
Successful information flow ICO provided to the KU international community through its Bi-Weekly News, formerly known as News Updates, inspired the office to create its own Newsletter. The main motivation behind this decision was the great interest that the KU community showed in the Bi-Weekly news, the will to brief the community about the news from the office, and to generate an online archive on our website.
The ICO’s Newsletter will be issued once every three months. It will comprise events, news, updates, and important announcements from ICO, and stories from the community members. The first issue was published on ico.ku.edu.tr/about-us/newsletter/ on April 30th, 2021. The newsletter will help the international community stay tuned, and increase the visibility of the office.
ICO’s initiative ICO Interviews, interviews with KU international community members, became one of the famous attractions of the office’s official Instagram account. Publishing the first interview on June 23rd, 2020, ICO interviewed eight international students so far and shared their stories, reasons why they chose KU, and recommendations to other community members. This initiative highlighted community awareness while serving as an enjoyable way to look at different perspectives online. The office’s use of social media has been developed conspicuously, which promoted its visibility.
The office interviews one community member each month and publishes them on its Instagram account once a month, usually the last week of each month. Since its first day, the Instagram followers showed great interest and welcomed the interviews.
Evolved to be one of the essential services that ICO provides, in Spring 2021 Online Turkish Practice Hours continued attracting KU’s international members who learn Turkish. ICO’s observations and the feedback from the participants brought inspiration to re-design the TPH meetings.
For Spring 2021, ICO divided the sessions according to the levels of Turkish proficiency of the attendees and had two sessions every week for one hour each. One session was reserved for beginners and the other for intermediate and above. The participants were happy to see that their request for this level division was met. This division let the advanced level participants speak and practice more, while the beginners felt more confident with the participants at their level. Additionally, ICO created a mail list for each group and shared the meeting details prior to each session. The WhatsApp group kept its significance for instant communication with the whole community. The number of WhatsApp group members has increased by around 72% in Spring 2021.