Young Turkish Visionaries Master Public Service and Leadership Skills in North Carolina

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Turkish Student Leaders Volunteer at the Local Food Bank, Tour Triangle Universities and NGO's, and Attend A Leadership Conference in Wilmington through Young Guru Academy Program.

The Young Guru Academy (YGA), an Istanbul-based non-governmental organization (NGO) devoted to developing a unique brand of imaginative business leaders, held its third annual Young Guru Academy (YGA-3) program in North Carolina on March 16-21.

YGA-3 was hosted by the local Turkish-American communities of the Triangle and Wilmington areas, with financial sponsorship provided by major multinational companies of Turkey. Participants were a group of promising Turkish university students with the potential of becoming the future leaders and visionaries of Turkey.

Since the YGA program emphasizes social responsibility and public service, visiting participants extend helping hands to the Food Bank of North Carolina. In addition to their community-minded activity, the YGA-3 participants toured local Universities (DUKE, UNC and NCSU) and visited the International Visitors Council/World Affairs Council (IVC/WAC) for a panel discussion on local NGO's. The IVC/WAC is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization that promotes understanding of world affairs, citizen-to-citizen diplomacy, and the recognition of North Carolina as an international center of education, culture and business.

The members of the Academy also went to North Carolina's beautiful coastline for a four-day retreat and leadership conference at Wilmington's Figure Eight Island. Leadership speakers from Turkey were flown in for an intense crash course on such topics as Inspiring Leadership, Unleashing the Potential Within, Managing Diversity, Insightful Innovations for Social Development and Self Knowledge. In addition to these lecture topics, the YGA participants attended workshops on future trends and conceptualized social responsibility projects for the Istanbul Greater City Municipality. A collaborative marketing proposal for Pepsi/Turkey was also developed, encouraging the Turkish youth to embrace more social responsibilities. At the conclusion of the Academy, this proposal was reviewed by the managing director of Pepsi/Turkey and approved as a social development program to be jointly implemented with Istanbul Greater City Municipality.

At the conclusion of the Academy, Burcin Yalcinkaya, a junior at Koc University, said, "This was an exhausting program, but I am very fortunate to have been part of this 'once in a life time' opportunity. Meeting the colorful speakers and my peer participants in this very unique setting changed my perspective about what I would like to accomplish in life."

Annual YGA programs include cross-cultural outreach projects and leadership enrichment workshops. Participation in the all expenses paid Academy is highly competitive and involves a rigorous selection process.

Sinan Yaman (, the founder of the Young Guru Academy, is an executive consultant and the author of the best-selling book "Soulful Leader." As a citizen diplomat and a creativity advocate, Yaman's vision through the Academy is to seek and create both insightful business and responsible community leaders.

List of YGA-3 Speakers:
From Turkey:
Sinan Yaman, YGA Founder and Author
Esra Tarhan-Civelek, VP Marketing Pepsi Turkey
Selim Siper, CEO Ipragaz
Osman Sinav, Director/Producer/CEO Sinegraf
Leyla Sever, President Sever-Impeteks Consulting
Hasan Yilmaz, CEO Unilever Turkey
Ilber Ortayli, Author and Prof. Dr. History, University of Galatasaray Istanbul
Gurkan Dogan, Poet and Prof. Dr. Linguistics/Literature, EMU Cyprus

From US:
Todd Culpepper, Executive Director, IVC/WAC
Brian Bedsworth, Visitors Program Coordinator, IVC/WAC
Eric Guckian, Executive Director, Teach for America
Zulayka Santiago, Director Youth Programs, El Pueblo, Inc.
Cheri Coleman, Program Director, Loaves and Fishes Ministries
David Mills, Executive Director, Common Sense Foundation
Earline Middleton, Directror Agency Service, Food Bank of North Carolina
Rachel Crosby, Manager Volunteer Services, Food Bank of North Carolina

List of YGA-3 Participants:
1- Burak Ozgirgin, Bilkent University - Ankara/Turkey
2- Sercan Tokmak, Bilkent University - Ankara/Turkey
3- Ozlem Demirel, Bosphorus University - Istanbul/Turkey
4- Burcin Yalcinkaya, Koc University - Istanbul/Turkey
5- Mahmut Sami Aslan, Anadolu University - Eskisehir/Turkey
6- Ali Yuceulug, Bentley College
7- Halit Hakan Efe, NC State University
8- Can Kuterdem, NC State University
9- Sena Zorlu, Brown University
10- Can Uslay, Georgia Institute of Technology
11- Emre Sabuncuoglu, University of Southern California

About Young Guru Academy
Young Guru Academy (YGA) is an Istanbul-based NGO founded in 2002. The aim of the YGA is to provide the necessary strategic tools and encourage tomorrow's leaders to deepen, enrich and inspire their collective creativity by unleashing their innovative potential. The Academy also seeks to act as a critical catalyst for stimulating a high standard of excellence, comradery and volunteerism. For more information, please visit

Sinan Yaman, the Founder of Young Guru Academy

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