I had the honor and pleasure of joining a handful of members of the Truman National Security Project for a media diplomacy tour of Turkey on a trip graciously hosted by the Rumi Forum from June 21-29. The trip gave us incredible access to media outlets, scholars, journalists, politicians, and intellectuals across Turkey, plus visits to stunning cultural and historic sites, as well as an unforgettable day touring a border town swelling with Syrian refugees. The Rumi Forum is a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit affiliated with Fethullah Gulen and the global Hizmet movement, which promotes interfaith dialogue, education, and an ethic of humanitarian service to others in Turkey and across the world.
As we learned, the Hizmet movement is not without its critics, but what I learned from our gracious hosts and all that we saw and had access to in Turkey was truly inspirational and life-changing. The values of Hizmet are very much in alignment with Truman’s progressive agenda, and we had profoundly enlightening conversations with so many excellent people, from Istanbul to Gazientep and Kilis, Urfa to Ankara, Izmir to Ephesus and Selcuk, and back to Istanbul over the course of nine days.
I will be writing more about my experiences in the upcoming days, but I’m posting this now as a sort of introduction, as well as a note of heartfelt thanks to Rumi for making this incredible trip happen. And special thanks also to Rumi President Emre Celik, who gave us his time, knowledge, and humor, as well as my fellow Truman members who made the trip such a vital and meaningful experience, and a truly fun one also. I look forward to seeing all the writing and discussion that comes from our trip. More soon. #Trumi