CAA Turkey Event Brings Travel to a New Level

Vuslat Dogan Sabanci speaking at a Columbia Alumni Association Global panel discussion in Istanbul
Vuslat Dogan Sabanci '96SIPA, chairwoman of the board of the Hurriyet Publishing and Printing Company, spoke about Turkey's future at a CAA Global panel discussion. (Orhan Bayoglu)

A highlight of this May’s CAA Global Event in Istanbul came when Ipek Cem Taha ’93SIPA, ’93BUS, the founding director of the Columbia Global Center in Turkey, moderated a frank discussion on Turkey’s “paths to the future.” The audience of more than 250 included newly admitted Columbia students and their families, alumni of other American universities, the broader Columbia alumni community living in Turkey, and visiting alumni and faculty. The panel members, all leaders in their fields — television host and German government adviser Ali Aslan ’00JRN, ’01SIPA; publisher Vuslat Dogan Sabanci ’96SIPA; architect Nazli Gönensay Akbaygil ’94GSAPP; and Internet entrepreneur Emre Kurttepeli ’90SEAS — wrestled with such issues as women’s and minority rights, the place of religion in politics, how to preserve Turkish identity amid slapdash development in Istanbul, and how Europe sees Turkey.

Five days of CAA programming also included architecture tours featuring Columbia art historian Holger Klein and a conversation on arts and archiving with School of the Arts dean Carol Becker and SALT gallery director Vasif Kortun. “The collaboration with the global center and Ilknur Aslan [’98SIPA], president of the Columbia Club of Turkey, brought this event to a new level,” says Ilene Markay-Hallack, the Office of Alumni and Development’s executive director for University events and programs. “Our colleagues in Istanbul opened doors to a kind of Turkish Core Curriculum for us.”