It was a cold winter afternoon in Washington, DC. Thousands of World Bank and IMF Staff members had gathered at the Atrium of the World Bank headquarters to see performances from around the world and to celebrate the cultural diversity of the staffs in these organizations.
Mavera Ensemble from Turkey took the stage to perform the opening act. As the sound of the ney and other classical Turkish instruments filled the Atrium and the dervishes began whirling, the audience watched with awe in their eyes. When the Mavera Ensemble’s performance was over, Paul Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank, came on stage and said “teşekkür ederim” (thank you) in Turkish in front of thousands of World Bank staff before he officially opened the event.
As the Turkish staff among the audience thought this was the highest point of pride for them, came a blood-warming horon performance from the Blacksea region…It was an honor and delight to be Turkish at the last Celebration of Cultures event of the World Bank Group…thanks to WITSA…
World Bank IMF Turkish Staff Association (WITSA) was formed in February 2006 with the overall objective of establishing a platform that could bring together IMF/World Bank Turkish staff as well as other World Bank and the IMF staff members who were interested in Turkey.
The Turkish community at the IMF and World Bank is very diverse and rich in its composition. With over 180 Turkish staff, the community has members in almost every department of the two institutions and at different levels, offering a great untapped potential for peer support and learning opportunities.
One of WITSA’s goals is to unleash this potential by creating new social and professional networking opportunities and information channels within the community.
The WITSA Executive Board has undertaken several initiatives, including presentations and workshops, among them a book presentation on Ottoman History by Caroline Finkel and Friends of Anatolia, a US based Turkish NGO providing support for education in Turkey. An internal website was launched in the first year and a newsletter series initiated. A mentoring program was also initiated to support career development of Turkish personnel in these institutions. On the cultural side, WITSA was no less active; a whirling dervish and horon performance was displayed at the World Bank’s annual celebration of cultures event, which was highly effective and resulted in compliments from even the WB president.
Last March, WITSA had a step further and sponsored a “Turkish Day at the World Bank”. For the whole day Turkish art, music, costumes, kilims and tourism potential displayed along with delicious Turkish food. In February 2007 a new Executive Board was elected. The new Board includes Serdar Yilmaz, Neslisah Aytug, Mahmut Aydogmus, Sibel Kulaksiz, and Elif Kiratli.
(March 2007, Issue 24th)