About the Author: Tom Leary is the Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
NTV just taped a special edition of the popular show “Come Along with Me” (“Haydi Gel Bizimle Ol”) with Secretary Clinton. The show’s usual format was modified so that the Secretary could meet with young people over coffee. That's the way you traditionally welcome a guest here. But that wasn't the only change. The show was moved from its studio in Istanbul to the Rahmi Koc Museum's cafe in Ankara, which is housed in a 16th century merchant hotel.
When Secretary Clinton walked though the audience of seventy-five young public diplomacy program alumni at the start of the show, she stopped to greet guests. Our audience of twenty-somethings came from as far away as Istanbul to the west and Van on Turkey's border with Iran to the east. Life stories were equally diverse, running the gamut from young entrepreneurs (bee keepers) from rural Van to recently returned Fulbright graduate students. The “Come Along with Me” hosts brought a similar diversity of perspective. Ciğdem Anad is a journalist, Pınar Kür a novelist, Müjde Ar an actress, and Aysun Kayacı a model.
Not surprisingly, the questions covered a lot of ground. For example, a guest from the audience asked the Secretary about similarities and differences between Turkish and American culture. The Secretary responded that one way in which our two countries are similar is that America and Turkey rank first and second in the world in the number of Facebook users. People in both countries network. The Secretary admitted that there are many misconceptions, and that’s why she just announced a new program to send more Turks to the United States and bring Americans here. The Secretary also fielded a question about how violence in the Middle East and in Gaza specifically affected her as a woman and mother.
“Come Along with Me” gave the Secretary a great forum for connecting with Turks on a personal level, underlining in a very human way that we’re listening to Turks’ concerns and how enduring our friendship is. Secretary Clinton connected with her Turkish audience big time.