Summary: Turkey Performs a Cultural Shift by Allowing Women in the Military to Wear Hijabs











Photo by ozgurmulazimoglu (CC By 3.0) via Wikipedia Commons

Women in the Turkish armed forces have been given permission to wear hijabs, a decision made by the Defense Ministry on Tuesday, February 22.

The Turkish military was actually one of the last institutions to forbid the wearing of hijabs a few years ago in trying to keep their stance as the guardian of Turkey’s secular identity. However, this new decision highlights the transformation of society on the perspective of hijabs, which are now seen as a symbol of the struggle between Turkey’s religious and secular factions rather than just a religious headscarf.

More recently, relatives of soldiers were allowed to enter military groups while wearing hijabs, but this resolution affecting Turkish female soldiers is a landmark decision that deepens the concerns that the government wishes to sever the country’s secular chains.

This speculation may hold true, for the Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been more religiously conscious than past administrations, with this recent decision being only one out of many religious-driven resolutions made under Ergodan’s governance. Many critics also add that the decision may have been too bold for the military due to the controversial nature of hijabs.

Others however welcome the resolution, believing that it finally gives Turkey’s pious majority a chance for the dignity they have been deprived of for many decades.

Summery by Claire Lurie, WACC Intern – Spring 2017 (Queens University of Charlotte – Sophomore)



Global Five Issue Round-Up: January 13, 2017

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2017

The world is entering its most dangerous chapter in decades. The sharp uptick in war over recent years is outstripping our ability to cope with the consequences. From the global refugee crisis to the spread of terrorism, our collective failure to resolve conflict is giving birth to new threats and emergencies. Even in peaceful societies, the politics of fear is leading to dangerous polarization and demagoguery. READ MORE

Amazon Culture Clash Over Dam

A battle is under way in the Amazon region of Brazil between indigenous groups and river dwellers on the one hand and big corporations on the other as the latter go ahead with their plans to build huge dams to meet Brazil’s energy needs. The BBC’s South America correspondent Wyre Davies has been to see what is set to become the world’s fourth largest dam, already under construction, and the indigenous area next in line for developmentREAD MORE

Transition 2017

Amid the cacophony of campaign riffs and post-election tweets, two central themes have emerged as apparent pillars of Donald Trump’s foreign policy vision: ending Islamist terrorism, and constraining China. In some ways, Trump is not so different from modern presidential predecessors whose early ambitions were focused on a few big ideas in response to the world as they saw it. READ MORE

Foresight Africa: Top Priorities for the Continent in 2017

In this year’s Foresight Africa, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative scholars and outside experts explore six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles to spur fruitful and inclusive growth. These six interconnected, crossing-cutting themes demonstrate the prospects for Africa’s success for its policymakers, businessmen and women, and all its citizens. By examining such closely intertwined issues, we hope to bring a holistic view of the continent, emphasizing that with each challenge there is a solution, though it might be found where we least expect it. READ MORE

Reinvigorating U.S. Economic Strategy in the Asia Pacific

The Asia Pacific is home to over half of humanity and many of the world’s largest and most dynamic economies. Over the coming decades, no region of the world will do more to shape U.S. economic fortunes. More than ever before, American jobs and growth are tied to the Asia Pacific, and these opportunities are likely to grow. DOWNLOAD REPORT
Disclaimer: The news articles, blog posts and reports included in “Global Five” are a compilation of global issues coverage from around the world and do not represent in any way or form the views of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte.

Thank You from All of Us at the WACC

Thank you for giving in support of our 2016 Year-End Fundraising campaign.

It’s through generous contributions from our members and friends that the World Affairs Council of Charlotte can continue to be an exceptional resource for international education and global citizenry in our community.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.― Margaret Mead


2015-2016 Council Scholar: Mariana De Luca (ELL Resource Teacher – CMS)

I am extremely grateful to Wells Fargo, Carolinas Health Care system, Bank of America and UNC Charlotte for funding the World Affairs Council Scholar Award Program which has afforded me the opportunity to attend one of the four residential requirements for the PhD in Applied Linguistics Program I am part of at Lancaster University in England.

Without the financial burden, I was able to focus my time and energy entirely in the program and make the best out of my stay abroad. The residential was filled with experiences that foster growth at so many levels, intellectually and socially. As a result of participating in these diverse interactions, I am able to bring latest trends in the language teaching field to share with educators at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Furthermore, and probably most importantly, I was able to be part of a multicultural and successful learning community which has enhanced my perception of the world.

I participated in conferences, talks and classes which gave me access to knew knowledge and shared experiences. Through such interactions, I was able to identify similarities between school systems in the US and abroad. Interestingly, many of the issues faced abroad are also challenges in the US schools. For example, the world refugee situation as well as globalized economies have forced schools to look at new ways of teaching, one that takes into account the diversity in culture and language and focuses on successful communication and integration. It was valuable to hear that “translanguaging” the dynamic use of two or more languages in the classroom is a spreading practice in Europe and an expanding area of interest for linguists around the world. I found this information significant and worth of further research since a practice such as translanguaging can have a positive impact in the education of CMS students and in the community.

Besides learning about new trends in education and especially in language teaching, I have gained tremendous inspiration from my classmates. I particularly enjoyed getting together not only for the benefit of the intellectual exchanges but also to cheer each other up when the gray and rainy UK weather lowered our spirits. The social aspect of the residential will also translate into my work in the school. Interacting with diverse populations promotes respect for each other’s cultures and awareness of our personal assumptions that unintentionally may affect communication. Effective cross-cultural communication is essential to build a dynamic and innovative community of educators, especially in bilingual settings. Exposure to diversity has enhanced my appreciation for cultural differences and at the same time has showed me how to tap into each other’s strengths to increase our repertoire of useful resources. Engaging with so many people from around the world was an extraordinary enriching experience which has impacted my personal and professional life and that now I am able to share with other educators in my school.

The award was definitely worthwhile. It provided an experience that cannot be replicated and which will leave an impact beyond myself reaching those I interact with at the workplace and in the community.

Mariana De Luca was one of the recipients of our 2015-2016 Council Scholar grants





Happy Holidays from the WACC

To friends and supporters of the World Affairs Council of Charlotte,

We are grateful for your ongoing support for the Council’s international education initiatives that promote a broader understanding of world affairs and current events among our students, teachers, business leaders and community members. It’s because of your commitment to our mission that our outreach has reached thousands in the greater Charlotte area.

As we head into the last few weeks of a busy holiday season, we wanted to say “Thank You” for being amazing supporters and friends. We appreciate each of you and look forward to seeing you in the upcoming New Year.


2015-2016 Council Scholar: Brandt Boidy (Charlotte Preparatory School)

I had the privilege of attending the Bridges Conference in Jyvaskyla, FinlandJyvaskyla, Finland this year thanks to the World Affairs Council of Charlotte’s generous council scholar program.

The Bridges conference is an annual conference that brings academic leaders together to discuss ideas, philosophy, and practice with art, mathematics, and design.  The conference included two days of lectures and presentations, an art exhibit, and a cultural day.  Each year the conference is held in a different city around the globe, past locations include Amsterdam, Rio, and Baltimore.  This year the conference was held from August 9-13 in Jyvaskyla, Finland at the University of Jyvaskyla.  Jyvaskyla is home to the Alvar Aalto museum and various buildings designed by the architect, the perfect location for an inspiring design conference.

I am a 5-8 mathematics teacher at Charlotte Preparatory School.  My curriculum focuses heavily on algebra and geometry.  Outside of the classroom I am an aspiring artist who frequently looks to incorporate design and art into the general math curriculum.  While I find geometry easier to integrate art and design into, my goal for this conference was to gain new ideas and perspective on incorporating art into mathematics, as well as incorporating mathematics into my art.

At the Bridges conference I attended a number of fantastic presentations, such as “Constructing meaning through making and creating,” a workshop designed to demonstrate the importance of makerspace and engineering technology in the mathematics classroom.  “The Golden Ratio and the diagonal square” presentation was especially helpful as I teach a number of lessons on the golden ratio in geometry.   My understanding of Persian patterns was limited, but the presentation titled, “another look at pentagonal Persian patterns” was eye opening and inspiring.  I frequently teach and work with tessellations in my classes and hope to incorporate Persian patterns in the future.  Lastly, “the math and art of folded books” inspired me to purchase a supply of folded books to use in my own classroom and lessons.  I attended a number of other presentations and found all of them to be informative and inspiring.  I left Bridges excited to get back in the classroom to start integrating all that I came away with.

In addition to my time at the conference I made great efforts to explore the beautiful lake town of Jyvaskyla.  It was the northern most city in my trip and the climate was exceptional compared to the extended heat of North Carolina’s summer.  The air was a cool 70 degrees most days and perfectly sunny from sun up to sun down, which in Finland is 5:00am – 11:00pm.  I worked hard to utilize all of my time there, exploring the local museums and biking heavily throughout town and the beautiful lake trails in Jyvaskyla.

Jyvaskyla was a quaint college town in Finland, but I wanted to experience as much as possible during my time in Finland so I also included travel to a number of other cities in the region.  Before visiting Jyvaskyla I visited Tallinn, Estonia, an incredible glimpse into Europe’s medieval past and Turku, Finland a beautiful river town on the mouth of the Aura river.  After the conference and my time in the lakes region I travelled to Helsinki and Paris before coming back to steamy North Carolina.  I can’t say enough about how remarkable and seamless my travels were through all of these cities.

After this extensive travel and my experience attending Bridges I returned from my trip with a number of takeaways, some mathematical and some personal.  My time in Finland revealed what’s possible with an extensive network of mass transit and bike trails. Instead of packed parking lots, Finnish businesses were piled with bikes.  The majority of citizens in every town I visited commuted by bicycle, a feat I admired greatly and thoroughly enjoyed taking part in.  Additionally, my ability to commute throughout each country was greatly enhanced by the consistent and efficient train system.

Another takeaway was insight into the gentle and friendly nature of the people of Finland and Estonia (and France!).  Despite not speaking the native language in each country, I worked hard to know some Estonian, Finnish, and French, but I quickly learned that everyone was willing to also help me in English.  I encountered nothing but warm, polite sentiments from everyone I encountered both at the conference and in my day to day travels.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to engage and converse with a number of Finnish educators and visit two Finnish schools.  I came away with great respect for the Finnish education model.  With great focus on mathematics and the arts, Finnish schools stand as some of the best in the world.  Additionally, Finnish schools hold their students to rigorous standards, while also holding them accountable to meet those standards independently.  The extreme independence, autonomy, and freedom that Finnish schools provide their students is something unique and empowering.  I hope to foster a similar independence in my own classes.

 The 2015-2016 Council Scholar Award Program is supported by Wells Fargo, UNC Charlotte, Bank of America and Carolinas HealthCare System.

Introducing: Thomas Cushman (Fall 2016 Intern)

Thomas Cushman is a native of Aiken, South Carolina, who has recently relocated to Charlotte. He graduated summa cum laude this past May from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. While at the University of South Carolina, he earned his BA in International Studies with minors in German and Russian language.

His passion for international affairs coupled with his affinity for sharing his passions with others drove his decision to serve as Public Relations Intern at the World Affairs Council of Charlotte.

Possessing a keen interest in international affairs, Thomas is an active participant in today’s global society. While at the University of South Carolina, he completed a study abroad year at the Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg in Bamberg, Germany, and also taught English as a teaching fellow at the Uni Bamberg. Thomas was an active member of the German and Russian clubs at USC.

Thomas’s interests within the realm of international affairs are largely Europe-focused. Having been to 21 European countries, he finds European culture and affairs fascinating. His research in his BA program was concentrated on the economic and developmental effects of democracy and democratic transition on individual countries around the European continent, as well as the dynamic of the economic relationships between former Eastern Bloc states and the rest of the EU today.

In his free time, you can find Thomas often outdoors hiking, gardening, or working on whatever DIY project the week brings. When not outdoors, he particularly enjoys cooking with friends or watching a good German movie, favorites including Im Juli and Goodbye, Lenin!