“Year of Turkey” opening ceremony captures vibrant culture‚ importance of Turkey

Kennesaw State's "Year of Turkey" opening celebration draws students‚ visitors and Turkish dignitaries.For complete story‚ please click on headline above.

Georgia (Oct 9, 2008) — Rain may have driven the “Year of Turkey” opening ceremonies indoors at Kennesaw State University Oct. 8‚ but an enthralled group of about 250 students and visitors crammed into the Village Center to enjoy an array of Turkish culture — music‚ food‚ art and folk tales — and hear greetings from Turkish dignitaries‚ a U.S. Congressman and university officials.

Following a formal welcome and lunch at KSU’s Jolley Lodge for a Turkish delegation led by State Minister of Trade and Customs Kursad Tuzmen‚ President Daniel S. Papp joined U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey in officially launching the “Year of Turkey.”

A rousing‚ colorful performance by the Turkish Janissary Mehter band‚ playing military march music and wearing traditional Ottoman costumes — a preview of a free concert they will give Saturday‚ Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. in KSU’s Bailey Performance Center — opened the Village Center ceremony‚ which was open to the public.

“KSU has concentrated on helping students‚ faculty‚ staff and students learn about different parts of the world‚” Papp told the gathering at the Jolley Lodge. “This year‚ we are extremely pleased to focus on the history‚ culture‚ government‚ people and life of Turkey‚ with its long and storied traditions. We have established incredible relationships with our partners‚ and look forward to a great ‘Year of Turkey.’”

U.S. Rep. Gingrey‚ whose northwest Georgia district of 750‚000 encompasses Kennesaw State‚ praised the university for its vision in choosing Turkey for its 2008−2009 “Year of” study and celebration.

“Turkey is a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures‚” Gingrey said. “It is a strong ally of the U.S.‚ and its economy is growing exponentially‚ with exports rising from $36 billion to $130 billion in six years.”

Tarik Celik‚ executive director of the Atlanta−based Istanbul Center‚ noted the phenomenal growth in Turkey’s economy‚ especially its exports. “We want to bring the magic of this growth to this region via the minister‚” he said. Istanbul Center is Kennesaw State’s leading partner in the “Year of Turkey” program.

Tuzmen‚ who earlier in the day spoke with Atlanta business leaders at a breakfast forum‚ projected that Turkey’s exports — primarily agricultural products‚ steel and other metals‚ textiles‚ transport equipment and electronics — would grow to $200 billion by 2012 and its total trade volume to more than $500 billion.

“Right now‚ we’re the 15th biggest economy in the world and we are steadily moving up in the global rankings‚” he said. “Our goal is to help make the world more peaceful and prosperous — to unite people of different countries‚ nationalities and faiths. Trade is the unique formula to achieve that goal. In the 21st century‚ economic trade will lead [in influence] over international politics.”

Accompanying Tuzmen were other Turkish officials‚ many of whom greeted guests at the Jolley Lodge and Village Center ceremonies. Among them was Mona Diamond‚ the honorary consul for Georgia.

The event drew attendance and participation by several Kennesaw State students engaged in studying Turkish history and culture.

Members of the “KSU Tellers” performed three folk tales from “Tales Alive in Turkey” by Warren Walker and Ahmed Uysal‚ reflecting Turkey’s wit and wisdom. The students are part of an audition−only practicum directed by Hannah Harvey‚ assistant professor of theater and performance studies.

First−year student Nayasia Coleman and fellow classmates in Professor Jessica Stephen’s Art in Society class (KSU 1107) stopped by to see the colorful puppet figures the class had made to display at the opening ceremony. As part of a “learning community‚” they are also writing scripts‚ making puppets and staging a Karagoz and Hacivat puppet show‚ based on the traditional Turkish shadow play‚ popularized during the Ottoman period.

“I love the diversity and international focus at KSU‚” said Coleman as she sampled from the wide variety of Turkish foods supplied by the Istanbul Center and its supporters.

Kamela Jackson and Lauren McGhee attended the “Year of Turkey” opening ceremony as part of an assignment for their first−year seminar class. Both said they liked being exposed to international cultures and plan to study abroad in Europe.

“I really liked the music and trying something different‚” Jackson said‚ referring to the food.

It was the more than 100 Turkish visitors and guests that impressed McGhee. “Everyone seems so nice and welcoming.”

Referring to the students‚ Trade Minister Tuzmen said: “If you don’t open minds (and parachutes!)‚ they will not work. If you open minds‚ students will see the reality in the world; see real history. I am most proud of what students here have been learning about Turkey.”


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu