Twenty-nine young Turkish Americans traveled to Washington, DC from across the country to participate in the first Annual TCA Turkish American Youth Leadership Congress on October 9-12, 2014. The delegates, who were college students, recent graduates, and young professionals spent four days in the nation's capital, where they learned about the U.S-Turkey relationship and the political systems of both countries. Through meetings and briefings with experts and government officials who spoke to their own experiences in civic and political life, the Youth Congress delegates came away inspired to take a more active role in local and national politics and become effective representatives of the Turkish American community.
Delegates had the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol, including an exclusive trip to the Speaker's Balcony. Later, the group met with Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL/4th) and Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA/8th), representatives from Washington think-tanks, the State Department, and congressional staffers. These sessions allowed delegates to engage in an active dialogue on the state of U.S.-Turkey relations and specific issues important to Turkish Americans. Participants also learned about the role of citizens and advocacy in policy-making and practiced how to effectively present a case to elected officials and others.
On the occasion of the Youth Congress, TCA received video messages from Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC/5th) and Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN/9th) - two co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkey Relations and Turkish Americans - and two prominent Turkish Americans, Cenk Uygur, co-founder of the Young Turks Network and a leading Turkish American political commentator, and Judge Jay Karahan, Harris County/Texas Criminal Court and the highest elected Turkish American.
The delegates also had the chance to visit the Turkish Embassy, where they received a briefing and toured the Turkish Ambassador's historical residence. Their visit to the nation's capital was topped off with a jazz concert at the Kennedy Center, a tour of the monuments on the National Mall, and of the Howard Theatre.