Local photographer Jim Turner is used to shooting on-location in far off lands. He’s been on photo shoots in London and in Scotland, but nothing like his most recent adventure to Baku, Azerbaijan and it was all because of a recent Bethany College international exchange student.
Turner conducted a five-day photography class in January in Baku called “Magic in the Moment,” that was hosted in part by the American Embassy and coordinated by Lamiya Korchiyeva, a former Bethany College student. Korchiyeva attended Bethany College in 2012 with the Global UGRAD Exchange Program. She was a photography student of Turner’s when he taught at the college as an adjunct professor.
“We started talking about this when she was a student here about three years ago,” Turner said. “I pretended like I knew where Azerbaijan was and said I would go there, but I didn’t really think it would ever happen.”
As it turned out Korchiyeva returned to her country and is now employed with a company called P-World as an event manager. She organizes international events and provides public relations and communication services to companies around the world.
She worked with her company and the embassy to offer the class and had over 70 people apply to take it. Turner ended up working with about 30 amateur photographers in two sessions over the five-day class, which ended with an awards ceremony on the last day.
“I am so grateful for every single moment I spent at Bethany,” Korchiyeva said in an interview. “I learned some very important life lessons that I use all the time. One of them I learned in my photography class with Jim Turner. He taught me to capture my own vision of how I see the world. This really changed me and opened up a new world to me and something I think about in life now.”
For the past few years there have been approximately 40 international students on campus each year, according to Charlotte Anderson, director for international studies, and an equal number of students that come from other cultural heritage but are not considered true international students. Anderson believes that exchange students like Korchiyeva bring a lot to the college even if they are here for just one semester or one year.
“The students who come to our campus through exchange programs have an interest in cultural exchange,” she said. “They are not coming here to graduate. They come to share their abilities and end up having an amazing experience. Students like Limiya are very good at relationship building and end up leaving here to do great things and open up the world to the rest of us, like Jim going to Azerbaijan.”
Most of the time Jim Turner can be seen around Bethany’s campus photographing sports and other campus events, but he is planning a trip back to Baku in May.
“I spent most of the time with the class, but got to see a few sites,” he said. “Enough to know that I want to go back.”