Gülistan Kul, Interpreter Coordinator
Born and raised in Turkey, Ms. Kul holds an Ed.M. from the University of Buffalo and is responsible for facilitating language access across a wide array of fields in Buffalo and the surrounding areas.
What are your academic credentials and what path have you taken to get to the Institute? How have they prepared you for your position?
[GK]: I got my Bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation studies from Boğaziçi University in Turkey. I worked as a translator and interpreter for about three years and then I got certified to teach English at a college in Turkey before coming here. So, those experiences have definitely helped me understand what interpreters and translators go through when they do their job and to figure out the best way to support them. Also, there is the customer service side of this job that my previous work experience have helped me in communicating more efficiently.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about working at an organization like the Institute?
[GK]: Definitely helping people transition to new lives and seeing how they change over time. Being able to contribute to that in a positive way has been the most rewarding thing.
What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “International Institute of Buffalo”?
[GK]: Diversity. I researched the Institute right before I left Turkey to come to Buffalo and I knew right away that I wanted to work here.
What languages do you speak?
[GK]: Turkish and English. I started learning English when I was in middle school, but it was very basic. It wasn’t really until high school that I developed a strong handle on the English language. Also, my college courses were all taught in English, so that helped me achieve proficiency.
What is one accomplishment that you are most proud of? Why?
[GK]: Something that my father still talks about, actually. I grew up in a small city in Turkey, so it was big news when I got into the school of my dreams. It is the leading school in Turkey and it took a lot of hard work—in my program, 60,000 people take a test for admissions and I placed 53rd among all the people that took that test.
Since the Institute works with diverse people from all the world, can you share with us your own heritage?
[GK]: I don’t know too much about my heritage. Anatolia, as you may know, was home to many civilizations throughout history. My father’s side is Turkish, but my grandmother on my mother’s side is Kurdish. I guess you could consider me a first-generation foreign-born here in the U.S.
Given the international nature of the Institute, have you traveled abroad? Any place on your bucket list?
[GK]: I recently went to Dublin in June (2017). But I have been to the Caribbean, Canada, England, and France as well. I would really love to visit Mexico and some countries in South America—namely Costa Rica and Argentina.
If you could sit down with any historical figure, who would you choose? What is one question you would ask them?
[GK]: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, 1881-1938, the founder the Republic of Turkey. All of the good things that we have in Turkey, we owe to him. There would be so much to talk about, and it would be hard to choose one question. I guess I would definitely ask him how he did it all and what he relied on during the darkest times.
Favorite ethnic food?
[GK]: It is hard to choose between Indian and Italian food.
[GK]: Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. I remember reading it in high school in the midst of all my exams and not being able to put it down. And I am a nerd, nothing stops me from doing my homework [laughs].
What can you tell me about your life away from the Institute?
[GK]: I have a fairly simple life with my husband, a PhD candidate in Computer Science, here in Buffalo. I recently finished my Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), which is something that I have always wanted to pursue. Outside of work, I do love cooking and experimenting with different recipes.
What traits would you say define you?
[GK]: I think other people would describe me as a very determined and friendly person.