Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"How I have made connections through the IVLP and GlobalPittsburgh"

Gulin Bulbuloglu and Monika Wilcox, 2016
By Gulin Bulbuloglu, GlobalPittsburgh volunteer from Turkey

I met Monika Wilcox, a Program Officer for the national program agency FHI 360 in 2009 when I was a participant from Turkey in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in Washington, D.C. She accompanied us as our Program Officer throughout a 2 week long exchange for young leaders. The main theme of our project was the importance of giving back to the community in which we lived.

One year after the completion of our program, Monika had the opportunity to visit me in Istanbul, Turkey, where I was attending university. We had a chance to catch up, and talk about how the IVLP impacted our lives.

Nearly 7 years after my IVLP experience, I moved to Pittsburgh, and started to look for an opportunity to give back to the new community in which I was living. While looking for an organization at which I could volunteer, I discovered GlobalPittsburgh. Its mission was something I strongly believed in: creating international connections within the community and beyond to other parts of the world.

Shortly after I started volunteering at GlobalPittsburgh in January 2016, I found out that Monika Wilcox, now Program Manager, International Cultural and Youth Programs, Global Connections, FHI 360, was going to visit Pittsburgh to attend the March 3, 2016, closing session of a project for an IVLP group of Peruvian environmentalists. The world was small after all! Gail Shrott, GlobalPittsburgh’s Director of the International Leaders Program, told Monika that she had a surprise for her at breakfast before her closing session. I was the surprise! Monika was astonished when she saw me at the lobby of her hotel. We sat down and started to catch up from where we left off 6 years ago. We have remained in contact and I expect that our paths will cross again.

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