On September 4th, Chicago welcomed the Chicago Turkish Festival, one of the most prominent and lively showcases of Turkish culture in the Midwest, with the annual outdoor Gala, which took place at Pioneer Court in downtown Chicago. The gala, which boasted notable figures like Consul General Fatih Yildiz, the prominent head behind Chicago's Turkish Consulate, and several members of the diplomatic community. The event, which began at 7pm, reflected a diversity of culture from Turkey that consisted of ornate garments, savory Turkish-style coffee, orchid-flavored ice cream, delicious regional cuisine, and some of the most hospitable international figures all in one place.
This year's festival was a farewell to the sophisticated yet compassionate Consul General, who left Chicago soon after and has returned Ankara for a new position as head of human resources at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, taking with him his wife and 16-year-old daughter. However, before parting ways PdM asked him to describe his four years in Chicago.
“The Turkish community in Chicago is one of the most interesting in this country,” stated Consul General Yildiz. “My position allowed me to oversee several states in the Midwest, which positioned me to learn about the vibrant and unique manner Turks live in the United States. We have doctors, lawyers, actors, businessmen, even reporters.”
Yildiz, who joined the foreign service in 1994, held various diplomatic roles in other parts of the world, including Sarajevo, Vienna and Washington, D.C., before being appointed Chicago consul general in 2010.
When asked what he would miss most about Chicago, Consul General Yildiz had a few things to discuss. “I will miss Chicago, period. Chicago is a beautiful city to live and work: I will miss the people, the gastronomy, and the hard-working attitude that has built such a city. I have had the pleasure of meeting young Americans who are interested in Turkey for both travel and work, and this is very good because it means we can grow as an international community together. I am also pleased to say that I've met some young Turkish Americans in Chicago and beyond that have so much potential for international relations, and this is exciting. For Chicagoans who have not been to Turkey, I recommend going now as we have some of the best tourism opportunities in the world."
The Chicago Turkish Festival's opening gala was a wonderful intermixing of gastronomy, dance, style, international diplomacy, and business elegance wrapped in a blanket of Chicago Midwestern charm. While we will truly miss Consul General Yildiz, we are optimistic that the next generation of Turkish diplomats to Chicago will continue the tradition of bridging communities, both local and international, through such delightful gatherings. We look forward to next year's festivities,
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