“He saw an announcement that would change his life.” This sentence is the shortest definition for the change Faik Uyanık has gone through. He was a successful journalist when he saw the announcement in a newspaper for the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program and decided to apply. He took a big career risk but he finally made it. He did his Master’s in European Studies at K.U. Leuven in Belgium via the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program and wrote his thesis on comparing Turkey’s regional development efforts with the EU acquis. The education he got thanks to the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program has changed his career as a journalist. Then he charted out a new path for himself pursuing his EU studies. Now he is the communication coordinator of the UN Development Program in Turkey and he never forgets that the Jean Monnet Scholarship Program was the initial start to his new path.
Could you tell us about yourself? How has your career taken shape so far?
I started my journalism career in 1991. After working at TGRT, Alem FM and Akşam news bureaus for short periods of time, I started to work at NTV news bureau as an news presenter at the beginning of 1997. I contributed to various departments such as NTV, NTVMSNBC, NTV Radio, NTV Mag, CNBC-e for over 10 years. “Güne Başlarken”, “Günaydın Kafkaslar”, “Geri Sayım” and “Eve Dönerken” have been the TV and radio programs that I worked on for the longest periods of time. I started to work as a producer at BBC Turkish in London in 2007. I prepared the series called “Kulüpte Bir Yıl” and “Sosyal Medya ve Siz” for almost 3 and a half years. “Kulüpte Bir Yıl”, which was about the changes in Bulgaria and Romania after the EU accession, won Sedat Simavi Radio Award of Turkish Journalists’ Association in 2008. The same program brought me the Young European Journalist Award of the General Directorate of the European Commission Enlargement in 2009. I’m in charge of the coordination of the communication of the UN Development Program in Turkey since 2010.
Which institution were you working or studying at when you got the Jean Monnet scholarship? Which year?
I graduated from the Economics department (English) in İstanbul University. I started my Master’s in Journalism at Marmara University. One Sunday in 2003, as I was looking through some newspapers at NTV news bureau, I saw an announcement for Jean Monnet Scholarship. I had all the required qualifications. I thought this could be my last chance to fulfil my dream of doing my Master’s abroad. It was a risky decision to take a year off from my career and go abroad but I took that chance. I studied very hard for the exam and I passed.
Which university did you attend via Jean Monnet scholarship program? What did you work on as a Jean Monnet scholar?
I was thinking about studying in England but I changed my mind at the last minute and enrolled in the European Studies department at K.U. Leuven in Belgium. My scholarship topic was Regional Policy. I graduated from this department in the summer of 2004 after finishing my thesis on comparing Turkey’s regional development efforts with the EU acquis.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship program affected your career after you returned to Turkey?
When I returned to Turkey, I made programs for NTV and CNBC-E about the EU membership process. I prepared a lot of news articles for BBC Turkish concerning the same topic, “Kulüpte Bir Yıl” program was one of the programmes I prepared. My scholarship topic has been very useful for me. My favourite subjects when I was in the Faculty of Economics were related to development and now this infrastructure has been helping me while I’m running the communication for the UN Development Program in Turkey. I have been watching Turkey’s progress in this field closely and I find it really positive that Regional Policy chapter is finally open for negotiations.
How has Jean Monnet scholarship program changed your view of the European Union?
Jean Monnet program consolidates scholars’ faith in the union even when the enlargement or integration looks hard to accomplish. Spending time with students and the EU experts from around Europe is enlightening. It helps you get over your prejudices and help others get over theirs about your country. Most of the time, you find yourself defending your country against unfair prejudices like an ambassador; however, you also share your ideas about the inadequacies in your country. This approach may help establish a strong dialogue between you and other people. You build life-long friendships. This alone, is a positive effect of the scholarship.
What would you like to advise to Jean Monnet scholarship applicants?
Jean Monnet scholarship could be the first and the most important step towards a life-changing journey for the applicants. If they have the required qualifications, and if they really want to succeed, it is not that hard to get the scholarship as long as they study well for the exam. The time they will spend in a EU member state provides great opportunities, not just for education but also for friendship, travel and fun. They shouldn’t miss any opportunity to travel to different countries and to experience new things. I, for instance, was able to see 7 or 8 European countries in a year using the advantages of living in the middle of Europe. Cheap train and bus tickets for students and low-cost airlines play an important role, too. You may remember an enjoyable museum, an exhibition or a great concert for years. These memories take their place among the greatest experiences of your life.