American Turkish Assemble Association (ATAA) supports the Birmingham International Center (BIC) "Spotlight on Turkey" program that officially commenced on September 4, 2010. The Spotlight program will educate over 2000 teachers and their students in Alabama and neighbor states regarding Turkey, including Turkish culture, cuisine, arts, history, geography and current affairs during the academic year 2010-11. The Spotlight program will also serve to bridge trade between Turkey, Alabama and the broader American south.
The ATAA is a primary supporter of the Spotlight program, in collaboration with its local chapter, the Turkish American Association of Alabama (TAAA) lead by President Aynur Vloon, Turkish Cultural Foundation (TCF) lead by President Guler Koknar and assisted by Ms. Bonnie Joy Kaslan, and BIC lead by President Jesse Hernandez and Director Iris Gross.
The Chairman of the Spotlight Program, Orrin Ford, commenced the opening ceremony which was attended by over 150 Alabama state and local leaders, state and federal judges, educators and foreign affairs followers.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell expressed, "Turkey has been a critical partner of the United States through the decades; we are proud to spotlight Turkey and Americans of Turkish heritage." Birmingham Sister City Program Director Scotty Colson stated Birmingham will work with ATAA to identify a sister city in Turkey. Tony Petelos, Mayor of the neighbor city of Hoover and whose family is from Samos near the Turkish Aegean coast, expressed great enthusiasm for the program, particularly Turkish commerce and trade.
Both Mayors Bell and Petelos provided their city key's to Consul General Akil Oktem, who expressed that the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture was proud to participate in the Spotlight Program to further international understanding.
Chairman Ford then introduced ATAA President Gunay Evinch as the "key supporter of the Spotlight program". ATAA President Evinch expressed gratitude to TAAA, TCF and BIC "for working hard over the past two years to make Spotlight on Turkey happen." Evinch stated, "ATAA places great importance on public education. This is why we will teach over 2000 Alabama teachers and their students about Turkey and America's Turkish heritage. We will also donate books to five hundred Alabama libraries regarding Turkish cuisine, Turkish arts, Turkish archeology, and the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk."
Evinch continued, "ATAA is collaborating with the American Sephardi Federation and Turkish Quincentennial Foundation to spotlight Turkey's Jewish Heritage in November with a speakers program and the donation of books regarding the Turkish Jews and synagogues of Turkey."
President Evinch continued, "ATAA places great importance on equality and empowerment of women. I am proud to say that of the fifteen members my Board of Directors, ten are women! In March we will take a good look at equality and the empowerment of the Turkish woman. In May we will celebrate Turkish May 19 Youth Day, hopefully with the visit of the Turkish Women's Soccer and Volleyball teams for friendly matches.
Speeches were followed by world famous Turkish cuisine and Turkish folk music by Mazlum Kosma, President of the Turkish American Association of Georgia (TACAGA).
Renee Kemp Rotan of the Birmingham Mayor's Office, TCF Teachers Programmer Bonnie Joy Kaslan, and TAAA Board Member and volunteer Demet Gurler. All photography by Melanie Davis.
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07
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