Every year, the Birmingham International Center spotlights a country from September until May of the following year. The Spotlight features the culture and history of the country and includes the teaching about the country in all the schools of Alabama.


In July, 2008 at a breakfast meeting with Gunay Evinch, then President-Elect of ATAA, Iris Gross, Executive Director of Birmingham International Center, and Orrin Ford and Peggy Bonfield, an idea was hatched to explore whether The Republic of Turkey could be the Spotlight country for 2010 – 2011.

That meeting was followed by a meeting at the Turkish Embassy in Washington in October, 2008 among Embassy Staff, staff members and officers of several Turkish and Turkish American organizations and Orrin and Peggy representing Alabama. The result of the meeting was unanimous agreement to move forward with the idea.


Since that time, there have been several meetings and discussions from the Ambassador, to staff of BIC, to staff of ATAA, to staff of TCA, to staff of TOBB and to Orrin and Peggy designed to move the project forward.

When TAAA was formed, Aynur Vloon became a key member of the team. At the last meeting at the Embassy in June, Aynur's participation was most important in moving to the next stage, a meeting in Ankara.


The last meeting was in Ankara in July, between Iris and Gunay and several of the Turkish Government ministries. The result of those meetings was to identify several projects and the primary organization responsible for them and to identify tentative funding sources. The last step will be the formalization of an agreement between The Republic of Turkey and BIC which we anticipate will occur in October of this year.

There are still obstacles to be overcome, but we hope to have them overcome by October.


Once the agreement is reached, the work will begin. We will need the support of all of you to make the Spotlight on Turkey a success. Those of you who have been eager to work will have as much as you can handle.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that all the work so far will pay off. There is not a better opportunity to showcase Turkey, its culture and history, and the Turkish American Community in Alabama.