Nina Silverstein almost ignored the message: an email from the director of a new gerontology department at Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey.
The 2006 message—a simple inquiry about gerontology books—became the foundation for a fruitful educational partnership. Now Silverstein, director of UMass Boston’s undergraduate gerontology certificate programs in the College of Public and Community Service, has been honored by the university: Akdeniz named its new library after her.
“I was very humbled and pleased. I have great respect for what they’ve accomplished. It means a great deal,” said Silverstein, who is also a fellow in the McCormack Graduate School’s Gerontology Institute.
Silverstein first connected with Professor Ismail Tufan in 2006, probably through her work as a committee chairwoman for the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.
In 2010, Tufan invited Silverstein to come to Turkey. She made a second trip last year last year to help Tufan establish the course curriculum for undergraduate and graduate programs and to mentor Turkish faculty toward publication in two U.S. gerontology journals, the Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Education and The Gerontologist. Silverstein also collaborated with Tufan and other colleagues on gerontology conference symposia in 2011 and 2012.
What drew Tufan to UMass Boston and Silverstein? “I think he was very impressed with [how the university] uses applied learning” and how students build a relationship with the community, Silverstein said.
Tufan mentioned the principle of applied learning in a letter to Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “The esteemed Nina Silverstein has provided major contributions to the development of gerontology in our country and is a highly valued colleague. Not only on the basis of scientific identity, but also as a person, she has met with the admiration of myself and many other scientific colleagues in Turkey.”
Silverstein says Tufan plans on adding hospice services and an adult day care center on the Turkish university’s campus. Students currently have many opportunities to work off-site, including at an adult day center and a caregiver training center that features state-of-the-art adaptations demonstrating different ways to help seniors live comfortably at home.
Tufan says he’s learned much for Silverstein, but the UMass Boston professor says the exchange of knowledge goes both ways. Silverstein has picked up lessons in Turkey that she is now able to share with her students at UMass Boston.
“Experiencing models of care from different perspectives influences my own vision of care for an aging population,” Silverstein said.