April 20, Harrisburg, PA – Turkish Cultural Center Pennsylvania organized the 9th Annual Dialogue & Friendship Dinner. Mayor Eric Papenfuse of Harrisburg received the 2015 Friendship & Dialogue Award at the dinner.
In his acceptance speech, Mayor Papenfuse noted that this was the most meaningful award for him. He also underscored the value that Turkish Americans add to Harrisburg, saying that TCC has aided many families in need in Harrisburg, since the organization was established, as well as supporting the city and its projects. The mayor shared how much he enjoyed visiting Turkey when he was there with his family, and expressed his hope to travel to the country in the near future, as well as to strengthen the bond between Harrisburg and Turkey with a sister city initiative.
U.S. Representative Scott Perry also gave a speech, in which he highlighted how much he has accomplished working with Turkish American community leaders. Congressman Perry told the story of his acquaintance with Turkish soldiers Bosnia Herzegovina, when he was an officer in the U.S. military before he was elected to Congress. He noted that Turkish soldiers were the best and the most disciplined in the world, and said how he witnessed Turkish hospitality and generosity from them. Noting that he was honored to be the voice of Pennsylvanian Turkish Americans in Congress, he added that he wished to visit Turkey in the future as well. Congressman Perry concluded by expressing his concerns regarding recent tensions in Turkish political sphere, as well as pressures on the media and human rights abuses, and said that he hoped Turkey would return to the path of democracy as soon as possible.
TCC Pennsylvania’s President, Sait Önal, who also spoke at the event, gave information regarding his organization’s mission and vision. He noted that they intended to hear the concerns of Turkish Americans, as well as holding events such as coffee nights, panels, conferences, friendship dinners, language courses, Ramadan Tents and trips to Turkey in order to promote Turkish culture in the U.S.
After the speeches, the dinner continued with violin and baglama (traditional string instrument) performances, and was concluded with guests enjoying Turkish cuisine.