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Dr. M.B.Ulmer, USC Upstate, SC

We think that one way for you to have a better idea about this trip is to listen to the people who went on a similar trip before. Below you can find the reflections from the people who went to Turkey in the past years."During my recent visit to Turkey I was very impressed with the family's emphasis on obtaining an education and the willingness of the Turkish people, especially the young children, to learn English.

It was surprising to learn from the Turkish families we visited that their impression of Americans came from what they learned and picked up from television or movies. My wife, Lewanna, and I enjoy travel. My work as an educator has taken me to six continents, so we knew our invitation to travel in Turkey would be, like other travel, a learning experience. But little did we know how much it would add to our world view and how much it would impact our understandings of culture, religion and the shared values of our human condition.

Our friends who had gone on a dialogue trip the previous year had assured us that there was no obligation, no commitment, except to show up in Istanbul with insurance and a ticket home, and to be ready to spend ten very full travel days enjoying good food, viewing historical sites and meeting the Turkish people. It all sounded interesting. We visited historical sites important to Islam, Christianity and Judaism: Ephesus, Cappadocia, Konya...places whose names we learned as children in Bible School, and we walked in places where the men and women of our religious culture's stories had walked. And little by little the differences in those religions became overshadowed by their similarities, and the differences in the people who follow those religions became less important than their commonalities.

We visited a school where we talked with teachers who were proud of their students' accomplishments. It reminded us of our attitudes toward our own students. We were dinner guests in the homes of Turkish people – real people, not people of the tourist trade – people with whom we were encouraged to converse on any subject: family, politics, religion, food, sports, work, health care, economics, travel, daily life... and we found they were so much like us.

Lewanna and I were astonished at how quickly the act of intentional dialogue with friends, guides, our hosts, people we met on the street, etc. destroyed the power of prejudice to control a person's thinking – our thinking – about others. We were astonished at how quickly the distinction between "us" and "them" faded under the soft light of dialogue. I mentioned that there was no commitment required for those who take this trip. But the experience has left in us the realization that intentional dialogue is a powerful force for good. So we are committed to lend our support to the dialogue effort. It just makes sense.