Dear Berkeley Turkish School Parents and Community,
As you know, we started our journey with the casual community potlucks in local parks 6 years ago, which later became the foundation and inspiration of the Berkeley Turkish School (BTS), nurturing and supporting our growing and diverse community. This past Sunday, we completed our 7th Semester, and thank all of you for being an integral part of this meaningful endeavour.
While organizing casual community potlucks were fun, running a school, that’s a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit and Public Charity, required a lot more professional rigor and dedication. When we founded BTS, we elected to start it as a nonprofit, because we believed strongly that our growing community needed to own and govern their school instead of an individual private entity. We also intentionally set our organization’s bylaws in a way that this nonprofit organization would live beyond its founders. Being a nonprofit in California also means that the organizations’ books are fully transparent, all expenditures are accounted for and audited diligently by an independent certified CPA to comply with the strict CA regulations.
Managing and leading any organization requires diligence, sacrifice and a stomach to handle the stress of being a public figure, at times making the not-so-popular hard decisions and having difficult conversations, all with professionalism and goodwill. Volunteering to manage and run a community school which leverages volunteer support is even more challenging and requires dedication to the cause like no other. As the founders and board members of BTS, we want to remind you that we’ve been living up to this challenge of donating our own time, expertise and professional and personal resources, because we strongly believe in the mission of the Berkeley Turkish School and the positive impact our school has made on our diverse Turkish- American community.
The Berkeley Turkish School’s mission is to:
Inspire the children of the Turkish-American community to learn about their rich and diverse Turkish heritage and language, to engage confidently with and within a changing diverse world, lead positive, peaceful and purposeful lives in their communities, and become strong world citizens with solid foundations and values.
The Guiding Principles of the Berkeley Turkish School:
- We Believe in standing as a community united against hate.
- We Welcome anyone who wants to join our community where peace, diversity, inclusivity are valued, respected and encouraged.
- We Collaborate as a tight volunteer team to teach the children of the Turkish-American community in their ability to understand, speak, read, and write Turkish.
- We Foster a safe and secular environment through our school program, curriculum and community events which enhance our community members' understanding of the rich and diverse Turkish Culture and heritage while welcoming different backgrounds.
- We Facilitate innovative solutions to challenging problems relevant to their lives in our evolving curriculum.
- We Encourage a global perspective and learning that’s inspired by different traditions and encourages different ways of thinking.
- We Learn together as a community so we are better stewards of a peaceful and sustainable world.
Together and with your help, feedback and our community’s endless energy and support we:
- Celebrated four International Children’s Day Festivals, three Republic Day Ceremonies, three Holiday Parties, three Mothers’ Day Events, four Graduations, six Parent Registration Events, three teacher appreciation dinners, and many birthdays
- Hosted Parent seminars and workshops where we explored relevant topics to our community including: Kidpower; how to save for college; how to care for ourselves as parents; how to parent by connection; how to pursue excellence; the nuances and intricacies of multicultural parenting; how mindfulness can help our resolve and many more
- Shared our favorite family recipes and dishes at our countless garden potlucks where important and meaningful conversations began over coffee, while most of us pondered over how delicious Yildiray Bey’s Suboregi is and how he achieves excellence consistently every time
- Made some mistakes which we quickly learned from and took cautious steps to not repeat the same ones again
- Built East Bay’s first Children’s Turkish Library
- Rejoiced with a sense of pride and a feeling that we are connecting our past with our future when our children performed and sang our childhood songs in Turkish under Fatosh Hanim’s leadership
- Learned how to folk dance ourselves and danced with our children with Mehmet Bey’s leadership
- Established our Adult Folk Dance Team and had so much fun learning together
- Collaborated as families on collective art workshops including ebru painting
- Hosted meaningful conversations between other Turkish organizations and their leaders such as American Turkish Society, TCA, TAAC and many others
- Lead the Engage innovation studio where the CCA industrial design Students designed Turkish Cultural educational products with the help of our students and teachers under Basak Altan’s leadership
- Played informal Sunday soccer games
- Laughed, Cried and danced hand in hand to many halays together
We accomplished all this together as a community through our collective efforts and dedication to our mission, and by not tolerating divisive and disruptive behaviour.
However busy and sometimes overwhelmed we may be, we wanted to take this moment to say thank you and to congratulate our community for supporting our school by being here, bringing your children, attending our events, by being ambassadors of our school’s mission and by volunteering your valuable time and resources so we can continue to serve our community through meaningful programs that are aligned with our mission.
BTS is evolving, and adapting as our community’s needs change. We have more plans that we will be sharing in the coming months. One plan, for example, is to establish our Advisory Board, with carefully vetted leaders in our community to help sustain alignment of our mission and our programs. We will share more on this and other developments at a future date.
Please also check out our events page during the summer. Our community expands beyond the walls of our schoolyard. It is about getting together to have meaningful conversations that spark a sense of belonging in a loving, supportive and true community. So join us for our picnics that will be coming up soon as well.
Should you have any questions about our organization, please feel free contact our board.
Başak Altan, Founder & President
Başak Çakıcı, Co-Founder, Vice President
Alpay Soyoğuz, Board Member & Treasurer