I’ve always been passionate about promoting cultural awareness and developing positive international relations. Since earning my undergraduate degree in Australia, I’ve actively pursued worthwhile international programs and projects. I recently returned from a two-week trip in Turkey for the U.S. Department of State’s Young Turkey/Young America Program 2012. As one of twenty representatives from the United States, I met with a number of Turkish politicians, journalists and students, and experienced Turkish family life with my host family.

The first part of my trip was jam-packed with educational roundtable meetings. My American group and I met with leaders from Turkey’s various political parties, like: CHP, BDP and AKP. Together we discussed a number of democratic challenges facing Turkey, and brainstormed ways in which the country could become one of the leading democratic nations in the Arab Spring region.

I also participated in the Next Generation Speaks Forum in Istanbul, and contributed insight on how to better support international youth development, with a focus in the Arab Spring region – the center of global youth awakening. A panel of young journalists, policy advocates and political leaders from around the world passionately shared their views on media, democracy and the importance of youth development in the Arab Spring region.

During the second part of my trip, I met up with my Turkish partner Ozgur Erbek, and stayed in his home in Kirshir with his wife, Nilgun, and two young daughters, Bahar and Oznil. I learned so much about Turkish food, family life and even Turkish weddings! I am currently working with Ozgur on an international project called “Global Roots: Connecting Farmers in Reno and Kirsehir.” The goal is to promote cultural understanding through common problems and solutions in agriculture. We will be producing a website and videos in the Fall 2012.

Have a look at some of the amazing places I visited and people I met…