Linwood's Roman Papademetriou, 17, will study the Turkish language in Bursa, Turkey, for six weeks this summer.
Papademetriou won a highly competitive U.S. State Department scholarship, designed to encourage American students to learn critical languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Turkish. The Mainland Regional High School student will spend five hours a day in language classes and live with a host family in the city, which is three hours from Istanbul.
His older brother George, now a Princeton University student, won the same scholarship and studied in Turkey for two summers. But Roman is going into a different atmosphere, with anti-government protests that started May 31 in Istanbul spreading across the country.
"The Turkish government had been known for being very secular," Roman said. "The U.S. and other democratic nations admired it and stressed that other Muslim nations should strive to be like Turkey."
New Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been showing signs of taking the country in a more Islamist direction, he said, trying to limit rights for women, free speech and other rights. Erdogan also has cracked down on protesters, sometimes violently.
"It's going to be a unique experience," Roman said. "When George went, he didn't encounter any of these things."
Roman, the son of Tom and Dorrie Papademetriou, will be writing about his experiences in Turkey for The Press at PressofAtlanticCity.com/blogs/students_abroad/. His first entry describes his orientation for the trip in Washington, D.C., last week.
His goals are to become proficient enough to hold a conversation in Turkish, and to broaden his perspective on global issues, he said.
Support for gay rights
Hammonton brothers Zach Wulderk, 19, and Dylan Wulderk, 22, held a sign that read "#GAY" with two others on the steps in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building Wednesday, as they awaited the court's decisions on gay marriage cases.
They were captured in a photo by an Associated Press photographer. It ended up in newspapers across the country, along with stories on the court's decisions supporting gay marriage.
Dylan Wulderk was quoted in a story in the Courier-Post, saying as a straight person he supports gay rights as civil rights.