Istanbul Center organizes multiple trips to Turkey annually to facilitate intercultural understanding and to build bridges and personal connections between Americans and their Turkish counterparts. The focus of these excursions is dialogue through culture, business, and education.
To see select photos from this past summer's (2011) trips to Turkey, please click here.
You may also view the photos from this summers' 2012 Global Connections Art & Essay Contest Winners' Trip to Turkey on our Facebook page by clicking here.
Generally, these trips last ten days each and consist of groups of six to twenty-two participants-the largest groups being the annual Global Connections Art & Essay Contest trip for winning students and their sponsoring teachers-and one or more guides. Annual participants are selected and invited by Istanbul Center. Invitees are figureheads from Atlanta government, businesses, universities, law enforcement agencies, and other institutions in addition to students. Istanbul Center staff and volunteers serve as guides on each trip. These diverse groups start as strangers but, by the end of each trip, forge close bonds and friendships. The experience and effort involved is truly mutual and requires much from both participants and the group guides.
During the summer of 2011, Istanbul Center organized 10 trips to Turkey, two of which were study abroad programs for university MBA students and two of which hosted middle and high school students and their teachers. Trips give participants the opportunity to experience culture hands-on while being exposed to Turkish political, economic and social issues. This is achieved through meeting both local families and individual civic, educational, academic, and governmental officials in Turkey. There were also two 2011 study abroad trips to Turkey organized and guided by Istanbul Center’s affiliate organization, the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast (TACC-Southeast). These study-abroad trips last longer than the usual 10-day cultural trips and feature larger groups. The schools that Istanbul Center was lucky enough to introduce to Turkish culture were Georgia’s Clayton State University and Nashville, Tennessee’s Belmont University.
Participants of the 2011 trips visited the cities of Istanbul, Konya, Izmir, Kayseri, and the capital city of Ankara in addition to the region of Kapadokya. The trips to these cities are not your average touristic experience, although participants do visit important cultural and historical sites during their stay, as their itineraries also include dinners with local families and meetings with official dignitaries from educational, economic, social and governmental institutions in Turkey.
Our groups regularly visit the Superintendent of Schools in Ankara, the Superintendent of Schools in Istanbul, the Deputy Speaker of Turkish Parliament, television stations such as Samanyolu and Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and officials from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Culture, Parliament, and governmental agencies such as the Investment and Promotion Agency. Cultural sites visited this year and in past years’ excursions include the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Basilica Cistern, Ataturk’s Mausoleum, the ancient city of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, the Miniaturk Park, the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. Participants generally highlight their favorite aspect of each trip as the dinners hosted for the groups by local Turkish families.
Istanbul Center aims to provide an effective overview of the government, culture, educational system and civil society through these excursions. With such a broad array of visits, every participant gains an understanding of health, government affairs, economic development, the media, religious and cultural diversity, and daily life of Turkey during the course of his or her stay!