Dialogue is in the name of your organization and it's the key to what made this trip so impactful for me. The opportunity to speak with such a diverse group of people was very meaningful. It enhanced my understanding of what is helping Turkey become a very significant world player economically, politically and socially. And you country is accomplishing this the good old fashion way. It is earning it.
What a lovely, memorable and most informative and enlightening trip. Having traveled to nineteen different countries on a variety of missions; I have never benefited so much from any other single trip as I did from this one.
The arrangements were done very well. I was comfortable with every plan you made in terms of logistics and support. The support Akif, Ufuk and Alex provided was very special and gave me confidence and comfort before and during our travels.
I regret my wife could not come because she missed a grand trip which added greatly to my understanding of Turkey's place in the world and its future as world leader.
Regarding the specifics our itinerary, I will try to hit some of the highlights. The first Istanbul with the museums, religious and historical sites was really a best way to start since most of us had no concept of modern Turkey. These venues gave us a basis to understand where your country came from to arrive at
the present and prepare for the future. Ankara was certainly a grand part of the trip. Interacting with government officials as well as private business people was special throughout the trip. One of the highlights of the trip for me was the visit with the lovely family at their home in Ankara. Having a chance to see them include the sister and the neighbor as well as both children was something I will always remember.
As you may recall, I texted my wife a picture of the family while we were at their home which she really appreciated. That home visit coupled with the visit to the high school and the interaction with the teacher were, alone, worth the entire trip. I particularly enjoyed finding out more about your foundation even though the elevator "ride" did not get us anywhere!
I really do not want to diminish the grand sights we took in including the ride to the top of the tower in Ankara because those contributed to my understanding of Turkey just as looking out the window on our flights did. The sites were wonderful, creating memories that will last a life time. It was interacting with people that were the most memorable opportunity we had. The ministries and the parliament were very enlightening. They added insight to the list of facts we took in continuously. I only wish we had time for more. Izmir was certainly fascinating. I wish we had had time to visit the city, the port and the people of Izmir and the surrounding area. The Blue Mosque, the Sophia Museum and the Topkapi Palace were just hard to equal in terms of their value to dozens and dozens of generations ofhumanity.
I really loved the boat trip on the Bosphorus as well as the dinner above the Straits on our last night.
The meeting with the editor of the newspaper was most informative and engaging. It was one of my favorite events.
I particularly enjoyed being in and watching traffic in every community we visited. I really have not completely decided what it says about the people of your country. I believe it does speak to the orderly, disciplined and polite manner which seems to be a very positive part of the national character
of your country.
Although we stayed really active, we probably had way more food than we needed. It would be good to determine what the preference of the group might be. Of every meal we had, the two at the homes were the very best but immediately behind those was the seafood restaurant in Yalova.
It would really be difficult to determine just one meeting that was the best. Certainly the meeting with the Governor of Yalova, the newspaper editor and the Ministry of Foreign Trade would be among the best. Honestly, there is not one meeting I would suggest deleting from future for subsequent trips. If
possible, more would be better. I really enjoyed the tea, especially when I could get lemon.
Among the best informal times was the trip to your brother's furniture story. I could go on and will if you need. All in all, it was a grand trip that was most meaningful to me. And the real key to the success of the trip was yours, Alex and Ukuf's guidance, shepherding, comments and answers to our questions.
It was the glue that brought the trip together to be, in my mind, the very best I have every taken.
Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.