April 20, 2017

Sami Gul: From Turkey to Kansas City

Sami Gul is a junior at UMKC [University of Missouri - Kansas City] and is originally from Turkey. He came to UMKC in partnership with the Dialogue Institute, which has an organization here at UMKC as well as in many other countries around the world. He is also involved on campus as a part of the UMKC Intercultural Dialogue Student Association. He is getting his bachelor’s degree in political science. U-News spoke with him about his involvement with the Dialogue Institute both on and off campus as well as his interests, passions and goals for the future.

What drew you to Kansas City and made you choose UMKC?

I am from Turkey and there is a nonprofit organization in Turkey which has different branches in other countries. One of the branches is here in Kansas City. I searched a little bit about UMKC on the website and decided to come here. I am very happy I made that decision.

Kansas City is a great city. Most of the people here are very friendly and, of course, their baseball team is fantastic! I became a Royals fan after I got here. I came here to get a better education and the Dialogue Institute was the incentive to come.

What are some of the foundations of the Dialogue Institute?

The Dialogue Institute is a part of the Hizmet Movement. Hizmet means service. It has schools, charitable organizations, and Dialogue Institutes in 167 countries around the world. The organization started in the early 1990s in Turkey and has spread out to Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and the US. I was born in Mongolia because of my father’s work there, and he was a part of this organization. The UMKC Intercultural Dialogue Student Association was established last year to support diversity at UMKC while improving relations between people of different cultural backgrounds. We emphasize similarities and common values such as love, mutual understanding, high morals, respect and cooperation among people of diverse cultures. Our student organization envisions a society where every person treats each other with dignity.

What does your personal involvement and leadership look like as a part of the Dialogue Institute both on and off campus?

For the Dialogue Institute, we have different kinds of events such as Saturday breakfast. We organize a breakfast every Saturday with speakers from different communities and institutions such as universities and nonprofit organizations. Every year we organize the annual friendship dinner, which brings people together from different institutions like presidents of universities and colleges, chiefs of police, FBI members, and elected and appointed officials as well. My role, in general, is organizing events on campus and promoting them.

What plans do you have for the future?

I am going to focus on the international politics emphasis of the political science program, since I have an international background. After graduation, I want to apply for grad school for PhD programs somewhere in the United States. After grad school I want to teach at universities as a faculty member.

What gave you such a passion for international politics and the goals of the Dialogue Institute?

Since I was a child, I’ve seen a lot of bad things in terms of politicians and politics, especially the current things happening in Turkey. I felt like, as a good person, you need to work hard, or work harder than before to make things change. That was the thing that inspired me to get into politics, but I don’t want to become a politician. I want to teach because it’s really hard to stay 100 percent honest when you are involved in politics, and I don’t like that at all. Seeing those kinds of bad people, it made me want to do something good for our country and the world.

That was my inspiration. Right now, there are lots of bad things going on in the world. I think that in this time, promoting peace and dialogue and getting people together around the same table is more important than ever before.

Published on University News, 20 April 2017, Thursday