“Our future is not in the stars but in our own minds and hearts. Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind.” These famous words were delivered by Senator J. William Fulbright, the architect of one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world. At the beginning of the Cold War, Senator Fulbright proposed a bill intended to prevent global armed conflict. The Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States and Turkey was established through a binational agreement signed between Turkey and the United States in 1949, and commenced its activities in 1950.  The enduring aim of the Commission has always been to foster empathy between Turkey and the United States through the exchange and contributions of scholars and students in science, art and culture.

Senator Fulbright’s “modest program with an immodest aim” has contributed significantly to positive developments in both Turkey and the United States. Grantees from both countries have guided themselves with the principles of “leadership, learning and empathy” between cultures. Focusing on the first period of “Mutual Memory,” this exhibition presents the founding years of the Commission and highlights Turkish and American grantee experiences. This valuable exchange program ensures that the Commission remains one of the strongest elements in Turkish-American relations.

Dear Turkish Fulbright Friends,

This virtual exhibition was conceived and created in honor of our Commission’s 75th anniversary. We are extremely proud that the Turkish Fulbright experience has continued its journey since 1949-50 without a single interruption and, indeed, has been expanding. Now, with almost 6,000 alumni, Turkish Fulbright is the largest and clearest manifestation of the strength of people-to-people relations between Turkey and the United States.

I would like to emphasize that this exhibition is not a completed, final product. Rather, we’ve created a virtual exhibition because what you see here represents the beginning of a collaborative and dynamic venture. The items included here are a starting point, and with the on-going contributions of our alumni, we envisage an evolving and expanding exhibition.

I would like to thank the Commission staff for all their efforts in bringing this project to life, and a special thanks to Dr. Bahar Gürsel of Middle East Technical University for all her help and guidance.

As I often say, it takes a village to keep Turkish Fulbright thriving. We are grateful to our alumni, friends, and cooperating partners, as well as both governments’ unwavering support, for helping guarantee that it will continue to prosper and grow.

Prof. Ersel Aydınlı
Executive Director

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J. William Fulbright

"It is a modest program with an immodest aim—the achievement in international affairs of a regime more civilized, rational and humane than the empty system of power of the past. I believed in that possibility when I began. I still do."

— Senator J. William Fulbright

Institutional Memory

"There can be no better mechanism for fostering peace and friendship than the establishment of cultural ties."

— Faik Zihni Akdur
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1949-1952)

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The Pioneers

"Upon completing their studies, many Fulbright grantees return to their home countries and assume important leadership positions, take part in leading science and arts developments, and serve as voluntary cultural ambassadors."

This digital exhibition was prepared within the scope of the Turkish Fulbright Commission, by the Commission staff.

© 2020 – The Turkish Fulbright Commission