June 14, 2016

Alum Update: Turkish Participant Sevi Bayraktar

Sevi Bayraktar

In the words of CIPUSA Program Alum, Sevi Bayraktar:

Following an agreement for mutual collaboration between YORET (the Foundation for the Advancement of Counseling in Higher Education) and Cleveland Foundation, I first came to Cleveland in 2008 with a group of multi-talented artists, social workers, and therapists from Turkey. It was my first visit to Cleveland, and I had no idea what was waiting for me. I was genuinely surprised and thrilled when I met an amazing artistic and creative community in Cleveland.

CIPUSA, as the organization that created the grant funded by the Department of State to use Art as a tool to keep kids in school, warmly welcomed us in this inspirational journey and facilitated our fruitful communications with art communities both in Cleveland and other cities, such as Denver, San Francisco, and Chicago. CIPUSA allowed me to travel to Cleveland, as well as many arts organizers from Cleveland were able to travel to Istanbul.


From that program, I met various Cleveland arts organizations and many ideas started about how to bring artists to Cleveland from around the world. Kathleen Cerveny, who joined the CIPUSA program as one of the experts in arts education and who was also working at the Cleveland Foundation at the time, came up with the idea of creating an international arts education program in Cleveland called Creative Fusion.
These ideas brought me to Cleveland a second time as part of the Creative Fusion Project in 2010. This time, I was on my own and looking forward to sharing my dance practices while learning more from the people experiencing different cultural traditions and artistic environments. Through this program that was funded by the Cleveland Foundation, I came to join Marsha Dobrzynski and her organization "Young Audiences" and worked in various Cleveland schools for four months.

In these months, interacting and working with fabulous artists in Cleveland who joined me in crazy-sounding experimental projects, learning from kids at various schools who taught me “breaking” with Turkish Romani music, and observing professionals and art volunteers who expanded my vision have all changed my life. They all encouraged me to pursue my desires and abilities to produce unique forms of artistic and academic knowledge. I am indebted a lot to those who fed me with their insightful comments and feedback.

Eventually deciding to combine my passion for dance with my scholarly interests, I started a Ph.D. program in Culture and Performance at University of California, Los Angeles. My third year has just finished, and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such inspiring people who enriched my perspectives during the last three years. I do not think that I would have enough courage to do that if I would not have had a “Cleveland experience.”

Fortunately, keeping in contact with Lisa Purdy from CIPUSA, I was invited by CIPUSA to come back to Cleveland to present at the Chagrin Arts Chautauqua-in-Chagrin
TM lecture series. This event will be happening in a week! I feel honored with this invitation and very excited to come back my second home in Cleveland!



Sevi will be joining Julia Shearson, Executive Director of CAIR Cleveland (Council on American-Islamic Relations), on Tuesday, June 21 for a presentation exploring the impact of ethnic generalizations on public policy decision-making. For more information about this program and to purchase tickets, please click HERE.

Posted by Lindsey Walsh on June 14, 2016 at 4:01 PM in Participant Permalink
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