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Turkuaz: Connect, Share and Inspire

The first issue of the Turkuaz magazine, Winter 2002 The founder, director and editor-in-chief of Turkuaz Productions is Eser Turan


by Light Millennium


With thousands of readers and about 700 subscribers within its first year of publication, Turkuaz magazine has become a nationwide cultural guide covering community news from coast to coast for the Turkish-American population in the US. Offering reviews and recommendations on contemporary Turkish culture and featuring inspiring interviews with Turkish-American profiles of success, Turkuaz magazine has an equal readership of Turks, Americans and Turkish-Americans. For those of you interested in maintaining a fine balance between the Turkish and American experience, Turkuaz may be just the right answer. (For more information on the magazine please visit www.turkuaz.us.)

In this issue of Light Millennium, we decided it was time to take a closer look at Turkuaz magazine, to learn the driving force behind this ambitious project, the goals they started out with and how far they have been able to take them.

The founder, director and editor-in-chief of Turkuaz Productions is Eser Turan, an energetic philanthropist, with a knack for supporting the Turkish-American community and presenting Turkish culture to Americans. Her original profession is architecture, as she holds an undergraduate degree from ITU/Turkey and a masters degree from UC Berkeley. For over six years she has actually worked in architecture at various architecture firms in San Francisco, including HOK, Inc., one of the top architectural corporations around the world. Currently she seems content to apply her design sense and organization skills to steer this self-motivated project to provide inspiration for the army of volunteers and supporters around the nation.

Last summer Turan's need for a communication tool for Turkish-Americans and her passion for Turkey lead her to launch Turkuaz magazine, a 48 page quarterly color publication, written, edited, prepared and distributed by volunteering Turks and their fellow Americans.

Turkuaz goals are briefly summarized in the three action verbs, accompanying the name: connect, share and inspire. When asked to clarify the motivations behind this project, and how much they achieved their initial goals, Turan offers an in-depth explanation on how and why their motivation in starting Turkuaz was threefold:

"There is an unspoken, invisible need for Turks to connect, as they are incredibly disconnected around the US. The settings that bring Turks together, and encourage them to support one another are not adequate compared to the immense need and potential of the community members. In addition Turks are quite clumsy around expressing their needs, that even at events that do get organized, they either talk about everything but their burning questions, or exhaust their connections to the point of discouraging others from wanting to ever interact again.


To respond to this need, Turkuaz staff has made it a goal to study the Turkish experience in the US and to create a platform for remote interaction. Past articles that featured recommendations on legal issues, health questions and recently about raising a family in the US have all received a very positive response from the community. It is our understanding that in Turkish culture, where interpersonal relationships are dictated around a strong sense of humility, it is easier through a third party, such as a publication, for the community members to anonymously voice their needs and to turn to that resource for solutions to their common issues. On a bigger scale Turkuaz is a project aimed to create a sense of presence for the Turkish-American community. This way individuals can better establish their identity in the US. Turkuaz is also designed to encourage all to be involved and informed of the community with no intimidating dues, fees or expectations, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds, beliefs and political views.


Our second motivation stems from our observation that Turks are not equipped to share their culture with their fellow Americans. Though underestimated by most Turks who are within their first couple of years in the US, this need is easily as important as connecting. First of all every ex-patriot Turk needs to acknowledge that if they don't introduce their culture to their fellow Americans, they limit their daily access to their own culture, severing their ties with their homeland in the long run. Given that most Americans are delighted to learn about Turkey and the cultural riches it offers, the issue seems like a matter of education.


Turkuaz magazine is designed to address this need by dedicating ample space to cover contemporary news and general information on music, literature, reading, film, performing arts and cultural events. These articles address not only the newcomer Turks, but also the Turkophile American and most importantly the new generation of Turkish-Americans. Growing up between two cultures either with Turkish or mixed couple parents, the new generation of Turkish-Americans are in dire need for contemporary information on Turkey and its culture to balance out the overwhelming daily influence of the American culture. Most of the letters we receive are from happy parents or thankful Americans pleased to find that Turkuaz is offering insight into the complex world of cross-cultural relations.


Our third mission is to inspire anyone and everyone in the community. It is our observation that despite so many great news and successful individuals to be cherish in the Turkish-American community, we are spending very little time and energy to appreciate these great success stories. It almost seems like most Turks are deep in critical thought and focus mostly on problem solving to the point of forgetting to celebrate one another's success. We believe that this lack of appreciation creates a harmful cycle of demotivating one another, where individuals have a very deflated sense of confidence, which undoubtedly is detrimental to the overall success and progress within any community.


Turkuaz staff works to inspire its readership by researching success stories, interviewing role models and featuring articles on sources of inspiration for Turkish-Americans. We place extra care in our interviews and the writing of our articles to create a set of guidelines for our readers toward success. The response we get is very satisfying, as most Turkish-Americans explain how the interviews helped them boost their level of confidence and feel proud of their cross-cultural identity and heritage."

It seems that Turkuaz is covering some critical ground to support the Turkish-American commuity. But then who is the volunteer staff and how do they maintain running a magazine with volunteer help only? Turan explains,

the Turkuaz staff is made up of a group of professionals living in US, volunteering their spare time to research and write about their fields of expertise and/or special interest. As the magazine is geared towards fulfilling a need for the community, Turkuaz writers and contributors are encouraged to ground their articles on their first-hand experience and observations of life in the US. (Those interested in more information on the staff can check out the staff page on the Turkuaz website: www.turkuaz.us/staff.asp)


However there are great advantages as well as certain disadvantages in working with a group of volunteers. First of all inspiration and motivation is the bread and butter of such volunteer work. It is the volunteers passion for the cause and dedication to the project that enables them to be as productive for such a grassroots project with a very limited budget. Living in the US, where time is money, each volunteer is undoubtedly making a big sacrifice from their personal time and energy, especially at a time when economic stability is at its worst in decades. When the case is such the consistency of commitment from the volunteers change from day to day and tying the loose ends falls on the shoulders of myself as the editor in chief, my husband Kenneth Holder as the art director, Suzan Revah as the English editor, Ilker Turan as the Turkish editor and Saygin Kahraman as the marketing manager.


Cover of the Turkuaz Spring, and Summer 2003 issues.

The magazine is printed in Turkey and the same volunteer crew collaborates to arrange the shipping, mailing and distribution tasks. We ask the Turkuaz director this time about ways that one can help the Turkuaz project. "Send me an email at director@turkuaz.us" she says at first. "That way I can get in touch with the interested individual, to figure out what kind of a collaboration we can have. The contribution spectrum runs from sending news, submitting articles and setting up network opportunities to finding subscriptions, ads and/or making donations.

Makes one wonder what kind of long term goals Turkuaz Productions is looking at. Interesting that they are a production company and not a publication firm. What is in store for Turkuaz subscribers? Turan prompltly anwers "Turkuaz is not a name for a magazine, it is a concept, a tool, aiming to address the need for Turkish-Americans to connect, share and inspire. Frankly, any project that would answer any one of these three needs is of interest to Turkuaz, and any savings we can have, we would immediately channel it to those projects. We actually have quite a list of projects under the Turkuaz umbrella, and quite a number of volunteers waiting for tasks, but for the time being it seems like we need to wait until we establish the magazine to our satisfaction.

Lastly we ask the reason for the name Turkuaz. The answer comes with a smile, "Not many know that the French word "turquoise", currently in use in the English language is named after the famous blue "Turkish Stone" that is found in the precious land of Anatolia. Just like the stone, there are many other Turkish values that get used in the western world without much credit to their true origins. Through this project we hope to bring the other Turkish gems to light.

For those interested in checking out the current issue of Turkuaz or find out more, please visit the Turkuaz website: www.turkuaz.us

The Turkish-American community can prosper with your continuing support for projects like Light Millennium and Turkuaz. Please keep us posted about your ideas and suggestions at contact@lightmillennium.org

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