Danielle Murad Waiss, SIPA'22, writes about her extraordinary experiences in Istanbul

Waiss was one of the Kraft Global Fellows who took part in the program's visit to Turkey in January 2020.

April 02, 2020

This January, we had the opportunity to travel to Turkey. Upon arriving to Istanbul, we encountered a country with numerous layers of history, multiple cultures and many identities to uncover. In the ten days we spent in Istanbul, we met a variety of individuals with different perspectives, opinions, religions and cultural backgrounds; from visiting the religious leaders of the main faiths in the country, to journalists, NGO's, government officials, musicians and so on. Perhaps my main take away from this experience was the pride and fortitude of the Turkish people. They recognize their history, embrace their culture and care about their future.

This trip allowed us to experience first-hand the complex dynamics at play in this country and begin to understand the nuance involved in all aspects of its society. I am so thankful for this opportunity as it has opened for me a whole new set of questions to study. As a student of international security, with a background of complex and often conflicting identities, the Kraft Global Fellowship and Turkey allowed me to explore many levels of my identity including my upbringing, religion, academic focus and interests in a way that permitted me to grow as an individual and a scholar.

With populism, nationalism, racism and other such forces on the rise, I believe that it is important to foster understanding and empathy amongst people from different faiths, nationalities, ethnicities, and so on. Only by recognizing the “other” and the traits that characterize our collective humanity can we achieve this understanding. I believe that the Kraft Global Fellowship Program in Turkey  is an extraordinary opportunity to do this. By taking a step back from our preconceived perspectives and listening to one another, we were able to learn from ourselves and each other, as well as experience a multifaceted country with diverse experiences and cultures that intermingle to form such a rich society.