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Turkish non-profit raises new leadership for Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 11/21/2009 12:00:00 AM | Şahika Temür

The Young Guru Academy, or YGA, a non-profit organization based in Istanbul and the United States, held a leadership workshop in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss prospects for a better Turkey.

The Young Guru Academy, or YGA, a non-profit organization based in Istanbul and the United States, held a leadership workshop in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss prospects for a better Turkey.

Candidates were chosen among 20,000 students from 93 universities in the provinces of Izmir, Istanbul, Ankara and Çanakkale. The  2,000 selected young leadership candidates were assembled, by 40 buses belonging to the YGA at the Lütfi Kirdar Congress Centre in Istanbul, to make their first move toward becoming business leaders. The 15,000 applicants, not selected to participate in the event, watched the workshop over the internet.

The leadership conference was opened with an introductory film depicting the activities of the Young Guru academy. After a live music performance, Gökhan Meriçliler, 24, and Enis Güray, 27, the two co-chairmen of YGA told the audience about their leadership experiences.

Gökhan Meriçliler joined YGA while studying in the mining engineering department at the Middle East Technical University, or ODTU. At the same time, Enis Güray was studying  electrical engineering at the same university. Now their dream is to teach one million future leaders, who will have social responsibilities and open 5,000 creative libraries in primary schools on the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic’s establishment.

Meriçliler suspended his master’s degree in oil engineering and resigned from his job when he joined the YGA. The motivation for changeing his career path was to teach hundreds of young students how to be good leaders in the south Anatolian city of Adana.

 “I went to Adana to teach primary school students as part of a project titled ‘read-think-share.’ I was teaching 806 students in 6th and 7th class. Later, I returned to Istanbul after handing the mission over to students from Çukurova University,” said Meriçliler.

Meriçliler is now getting a master degree in oil engineering at Istanbul Technical University. He also teaches social entrepreneurs at Özyeğin University and is a share-holder of a company in the renewable energy sector.

Meriçliler said, the academy is an organization entirely based on and inspired by Turkey and Turkish culture, even though it has an English name.

“The name is Young Guru Academy, but the goal is to introduce Turkish culture and an understanding of Turkish leadership all over the world,” he said.

Erin Güray stated that they visited several universities along the eastern coast of the United States during a leadership camp.

“We exchanged views with MBA students at Columbia Business School. We also visited US congress and met with US congressmen, who have friendly relations with Turkey,” Güray said.

After the workshop, 1000 young leaders will fill out an application on YGA’s website. As a result of face-to-face interviews, 400 of them will have the opportunity to join YGA’s international leadership school and its America leadership camp.

YGA develops and implements projects in different areas of social, economic and educational development in Turkey and in the United States.

In an interview during the workshop, a young candidate said he attended the workshop in order to learn how to be a good politician.

“After graduating from the university, I want to enter politics. I want to be a deputy in the Turkish Parliament. My dream is to serve my country,” said Hamit Iri, a student from Anadolu University’s statistics department.

Another student said that his ambition was to be a good business leader. “I am here to be a business leader. I want to make important investments in my own country in the future,” said Yiğit Tümner, a MBA student from Isık University.

Among the students was a physically-challenged student, who was in his second semester in the mining engineering department at Osman Gazi University.

In the leadership summit in 2008, out of 6,000 candidates, 1,800 were selected to particiapate in the leadership academy program.

Izzet Karaca, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, Mustafa Çağan, Acting Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft, Erhan Erkut, the rector of Özyeğin University and Sinan Yaman, the President of Executive Board of YGA, are set to address the workshop and share their experiences of leadership, followed by recommendations on how to be more successful.

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