Feedback from Stakeholders
Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism
“We encourage and support relationships and joint programs globally as these activities are in line with our international, regional and national policies, goals and strategies… We strongly believe that this project is also potential to support the current International efforts to normalize the relationship between Turkey and Armenia.”
Association of Turkish Travel Agencies
from the Official Support Letter for the Project, May 14th, 2010:
“We value the role of education for healthy tourism development and truly support such efforts to take Turkey and other countries to the level of sustainable and responsible tourism practices with well-educated and informed tourism practitioners and researchers.”
Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey
from the Official Support Letter for the Project, May 26th, 2010:
“The project team has the skills, knowledge, expertise, experience, energy and most of all enthusiasm to put all to facilitate and sustain the partnership proposed in this project.”
Ege Turistik Isletmeciler Dernegi (ETIK) (Aegean Hoteliers Association)
from the Official Support Letter for the Project, May 17th, 2010:
“This project will benefit involved countries in raising awareness about and increasing practices of sustainable tourism development.”
E-mail message, August 30th, 2011:
“Thank you, for your hard work and dedication to promote understanding between Turks and Armenians. Through efforts like these, the future looks a little brighter. It is up to us and future generations to prepare our people for peace and I thank you and all the fellows for working towards this important goal.”
E-mail message, September 8th, 2011:
“What a wonderful idea. It is never too late to start and nourish new relationships."
Student Feedback on the Education and Capacity Building Activities: The following are participating students’ comments regarding their experience and impressions throughout the Cultural Tourism Course and Kars Trip.
Feedback about Ani Trip:
Armenian State University of Economics (ASUE)
This year I had the privilege of participating in online courses about Cultural Tourism. To complete the study we were given an opportunity to travel to Kars, Turkey. I had never been in Turkey before. Through our visits to different places we were given an opportunity to meet with local people and talk a bit about their view on differences in views and cultures. The trip was very organized and full of events and meetings. We talked about our lifestyles and daily challenges in our lives as teenagers and tolerance of different views and cultures. I also learnt to understand and appreciate different views that people can have about my culture and country.
In conclusion this program has helped me to obtain many things such as the ideas for tourism development in Armenia, a better understanding of Turkey and USA and the people who live there. Lastly, the most crucial part of the trip, I have made lot of friends with whom I communicate via Internet and hope that we meet again in Florida. This trip also helped me to think big and set more challenging goals for me to explore more countries and learn how to invest the ideas for my country as well.
And I want to add that “It isn’t enough to talk about peace, One most believe in it, and it isn’t enough to believe in it, one must work at it"
I think, we, ATA Fellows, already started to work at it. :)
The project aims at developing and enhancing cultural tourism in Kars, to contribute to social cohesion and reduce income disparities between the inhabitants of Kars and the rest of Turkey. We think of collaborating on a project to encourage regional tourism development initiatives at the Ani Ruins, also known as the City of 1001 Churches. The ruins are a major cultural and heritage site - significant in both Armenian and Turkish cultures. This project is promoting peace through tourism and cultural understanding between Turkey and Armenia. Our trip to Kars was wonderful, filled with unforgettable impressions. The view of Armenia across the river Arpaçay and the remains of churches right at the border are astounding. This project helped me to improve my professional skills, to use my theoretical knowledge in practice. I made a lot of friends both from Florida and Turkey. I learnt a lot about their cultures, customs and traditions. And now Kars and Ani ruins are the first on my Top 10 list of favorite places.
We look forward to expanding our increasingly beneficial relations with American and Turkish friends and hope that the future will bring us closer collaboration.
I want to share with my impressions from the things, which refer to ATAF project. Of course it is impossible to express everything in several sentences, but I will try to be neat. Starting from Cultural Tourism Class I want to say that I got rather useful knowledge. It is important to me because my town Gyumri needs promotion from point of view of tourism, so maybe I will be one of those who will make Gyumri attractive for tourists. From the other hand the knowledge I got, give me advantage in our University. About Kars trip I can say, that it was wonderful and also expected, because every Armenian dreams to be in Kars and Ani. So my dream came true. The most interesting and important for me was the visit to Ani, because I have seen it many times, but from the Armenian border, and now when we were in Turkey, the feelings were unexplainable and also unreal.. When we sang a song about Ani just there it was a miracle for me. The trip also gave us information about cultures of Turkey and USA, it gave us new friends, and of course memories, which we will keep in our hearts during our whole life. I am thankful to all of you, for giving us this opportunity.
I have participated in too much training in different countries, and I want to say that our classes in Kars were wonderful and very different from the others. The reason that Cultural Tourism classes were so special is because, that trip was way not only for enhancing knowledge in Tourism field, but also that was opportunity to develop communication between other nations, and now I am keeping in touch with my friends from Turkey and USA. At the end I want to add that during these classes I also have learned many Turkish words. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
ATA Fellows are the best.
There comes a time when you realize that miracles can come to life only if you’ll believe in them. So, one of my dreams was to be in Ani. I realize that I’m really someone very successful because I was there and for all this I’m beholden to ATAF project. So I would like to mention that before this class I thought I will take my master degree at the same university (ASUE), but in another specialization, but due to this project I choose the best for me, again, tourism management (like in my bachelor degree). I’m also pleased this project because of my new friends. They are so nice, crazy, intelligent, positive, smart, etc. I like them and hope our friendship will be continued and we will see each other again.
And finally ATAF project is a very bright, colorful page in my memory book so I will keep close to my heart and will remember all the minutes, all the seconds which I spend with ATAF rising stars unbelievable nice project.
The days we had spent in Kars, were the most wonderful days in my life-filled with emotions, and unforgettable memories! I have got many friends, and I hope, I will meet my Turkish and American friends soon!
Being a participant in this project and due to our trip I found a motivation to learn more about other countries, other nations, their histories and cultures. I'm grateful to everybody supporting this project!!!! I hope that such projects will be continuous!!
Our trip to Kars was wonderful. It lasted only 8 days but we spent our time very interesting and saturated. So we turned back with lots of positive emotions and wonderful memories. The places that we saw there were very interesting and full of memories about our predecessors, besides the Turkish and American groups were very friendly and nice. So I miss my friends and I hope I will meet them again. I also want to thank our leaders for supporting us in this project .I can say that those 8 days were the best days in my life!
Our trip to Kars will always be unforgettable for me. In those 7 days I could learn a lot not only about American and Turkish culture, their customs, but also about people and their behavior. Besides, this trip helped me to make many cute friends from America and Turkey. To my mind the main aim of these projects is to make people from different countries gather together, create some platform, where they all could utter their ideas, thoughts and come to an equal conclusion. And now I can surely say that our mission is well done. Thanks a lot to all of them, who has their own investment in this project organization!
People travel for various reasons – adventure, time for thought, change, curiosity, historical research, freedom, fun, new people, new impressions ………. This travel was a creative act for me. I acquired some skills such as how to socialize with people, I went back to the history of our ancestors, admired the ruins of Ani. My travelling broadened my mind; it was both fun and very interesting, and related to my profession, too.
I had frequently hearkened about Kars at school but arriving there seemed to be very dream-like. I'm closing my eyes and I'm virtually passing through the enclosures of Ani. Everything is more marvelous than I could presume. Ani uncloses the pages of the history in front of my eyes. I enjoy the nature of Kars, the breezy air of Sarikhamish and the friendship of other fellows. It's already evening. Some restless students hotfoot to the conference hall. It's about 10 o'clock they come out with such an expression on their face that you could think they have just discovered a new planet. There's a commotion in the hotel: anxious faces, tears, embraces, fellows with new-fallen knowledge. It seems like the hotel is dolorous itself (: 7 days have passed and I have to fold this all carefully and put it as one of the pages of my life. The trip was really a peachJ an opportunity for us to deal with fellows of other nations and broaden our way of thinking… so I understand that we are all human beings, we can love and we need to be loved. We parted from each other as good friends and I'd like to meet them again. It's always grateful to deal with educated and good natured people and they were just like that. I learnt from them good human qualities. The Turkish side was very hospitable and generous. I'd like to visit the country again with great pleasure. Americans were very light-natured and cheerful. They could take a small thing and make a great party with it. So I hope that the boarders will be opened one day and more people will be able to take a nice trip to Kars.
Dokuz Eylul University (DEU)
Safa Berkay Yigit:
It was the most perfect project that I've ever joined. I'm really happy that I’ve met with lots of good people and have become friends with all of them. Improving my language skills, feeling the different cultural characteristics, having really good relationships… I'm really sure that this project will be the beginning of some political activities about the border & culture tourism between Armenia and Turkey. It was a perfect experience for me; trips, activities, games and everything else was awesome and I can clearly say that it was the best week of my life.
I feel lucky myself to have met all of you. I think that, this project is very beneficial to see different cultures and their insights. And Eastside of my country was very amazing. You can see two different countries at the same time and it is very surprising...After this trip, you think about the opposite sides of different opinions and cultures. And, then you can be sensible for people who are from different cultures. For this reason, I believe that Turkish-Armenian relationships will improve. The project is first step of this way. I thank all the people who participate in the project. We are very lucky. :) See you again in the next trip :)
Learning is the only word that I can summarize the whole trip with. I’ve learned languages, cultures, nations or religions cannot be a barrier to become good friends. I’ve learned to be surprised and happy to share the common sides of our cultures and also be excited for both teaching and learning about the differences. Most of all I’ve learned that prejudice is just ignorance at all points. Thanks to all who works for this project at the backstage and also thank you my dear fellows for making Kars trip this fun and making me feel that friendship won’t be limited with 8 days.
I have made friends from different cultures and countries through this trip. We have had a great chance to better learn about each other’s cultures via presentations during the trip. Also we found the opportunity to know each other on both sides. Thus we had the opportunity to establish a stronger connection and bond. Besides I am very happy to see the historical and natural beauties of Kars.
I can say that everything was perfect about the project. No, no not everything :) except for Safa and my sickness the last night J We already knew about Armenian Culture before the trip, because our culture and their culture are so similar. Also, we knew about American Culture, but this trip was an opportunity to get to know better about each other. We have a lot of foreign friends (kankas!) with this project and trip. We learned about different traditions. I believe that this experience was so beneficial for all of us. We developed our language and communication skills. We discovered new places together. The most important thing of all, we formed a strong friendship, a strong fellowship there. We will improve our friendship in the US definitely. Finally, i know that on the right side I can see a panoramic view if I want, every time.
It was an amazing week. We had a lot of cultural activities. We learned not only differences or similarities between cultures, but also we had different cultural experiences apart from the trips and presentations, which are, for instance, "batak" (a Turkish card game) or fortunetelling through a cup of Turkish coffeeJ And now we also have long term friendships from both countries: USA and Armenia. Thank you all for each moment of Kars. I hope we can see each other soon.
I'm not sure how to describe our trip; words are not enough to express my feelings. I'm very happy for getting involved in such a magnificent project. Via this project, I learned lots of new things. Especially the online class was super effective and enjoyable; it helped us know each other before the trip so we could manage to build very good relationships in a short time. I can't wait for meeting in USA again.
It was legen..... wait for it....... dery, legendary :) I think that it was not a trip, it was the spirit of the fellowship. I have learned many things during the trip like team work, differences and similarities between cultures, new places, different perspectives, and so many other things. Also I have improved my foreign language skills and created a bond of friendship with two nations. I am really happy to know all of you. I wish this trip could be longer than a week. I miss you all Kankas. I hope I can see each of you again except Oguzhan Isçi :) Because... he is YARAMAZ :P And here is my song :) Bye Bye happiness, Hello loneliness, I think I'm gonna cry :)))
This trip had some firsts of my life: I attended a school project for the first time, I got on a plane for the first time, I had friends from America and Armenia for the first time, I performed a Zeybek show in front of an international group for the first time... It was amazing. Everything was amazing. I had a chance to learn about the cultures of Armenia and America, and I enjoyed learning about the similarities and differences. I also improved my foreign language skills. It was also a great chance for me to have nice conversations with such a great professor, Asli Tasci. Thank you everything to everyone. I can't wait for the other meeting :)
Everything that can be said has already been said by all of you. The most important thing in my mind about this project was to see how everyone was willing and excited about improving relations. I understand problems can be solved with humanistic approach in the absence of politicians. In the future, also public participation should be provided in this project. Thank you to the project team for these opportunities...
In July 2007 our trip to Kars was very exciting with my friends and my teachers. It was the first school trip for me and it impressed me very much. It was a memorable trip for many reasons. I had a chance to see different cultures. Everyone liked each other and had beautiful photos. I couldn't forget 'take a photo' :) I remember every day of the trip thanks to these beautiful pictures. I had new friends from Armenia and America. They liked Turkey and it was the most beautiful thing to see. It was the best trip for me, more than what I'd expected. I believe that this project was the chance of my life. Thanks, thanks, thanks... ?
From the academic lessons we were all aware that tourism contributes to the formation of a global culture. But I'm sure with this trip everyone understood that participating in the life of "others" can really make a change in "understanding", and this cannot really be achieved by staying at home!
From the academic lessons we were all aware that tourism contributes to the formation of a global culture. But I'm sure with this trip everyone understood that participating in the life of "others" can really make a change in "understanding", and this cannot really be achieved by staying at home! Just like Yasamin Sabeti, I also feel lucky to be a part of the ATA Fellows and the memories of our trip to Kars make me smile :-) I would like to thank the organizers of the project, but a much bigger one is for you all. Without anyone of you it wouldn't have been the same... Hope to see you all again ;-)
First of all I want to say, I learnt a lot of things in our Kars trip. All the way through, I had never been with a lot of foreign friends. We were like a family during our trip. We established strong relationships with each other. Each of us had different cultures, but It was the best side our trip; because we had a chance to learn different things from our cultures. Especially Turkish and Armenian dance shows were wonderful. This was the first time I participated a project like this and it was very satisfying in every sense. I think this trip brought all of us more than peace. Thanks ATA Fellows :)
University of Florida (UF)
As students and faculty from America, Turkey and Armenia, our trip to Kars was an exceptional gathering of peers. This trip was organized in hopes of fostering good relations and lasting friendships between participants, as a testament to positive contribution of cultural tourism to intercultural understanding and peace. I believe these hopes very much became true; the groups connected from the very first day and all the mutual experiences we had during our site visits, indoor and outdoor activities enhanced this connection. I was personally thrilled to discover countless similarities between Armenian and Turkish cultures, from food to music and dance. I was also particularly pleased that the trip allowed us to spend tons of social time together, where I had to chance to engage in thorough conversations with many newly-made-friends. I think this trip gave me the valuable opportunity of ‘contact’ with another culture – in my case, with Armenian culture and I loved it. Of course we had only 8 days together and this indelible experience only left me wanting more: I can’t wait to go to Armenia now and visit my friends there!
Being a part of ATA Fellows has been a particularly remarkable experience in my life. It is amazing how the simple prospect of peace can drive such a project into fruition. Participating in ATA Fellows has not only yielded positive impacts as a whole, it has touched each and every one of us on an individual level. From the academic lessons learned in the cultural tourism class to the intangible lessons we learned from being on the trip with all the fellows; every detail, every moment has been a chance to rediscover the possibilities of peace and prosperity between cultures. I know I speak for all of us when I say that this has been a truly unforgettable experience and are so fortunate to have had this opportunity. ATA Fellows in its entirety has been a great contribution to the recognition that the human family is one.Being a part of ATA Fellows has been a particularly remarkable experience in my life. It is amazing how the simple prospect of peace can drive such a project into fruition. Participating in ATA Fellows has not only yielded positive impacts as a whole, it has touched each and every one of us on an individual level. From the academic lessons learned in the cultural tourism class to the intangible lessons we learned from being on the trip with all the fellows; every detail, every moment has been a chance to rediscover the possibilities of peace and prosperity between cultures. I know I speak for all of us when I say that this has been a truly unforgettable experience and are so fortunate to have had this opportunity. ATA Fellows in its entirety has been a great contribution to the recognition that the human family is one.
People often ask if my expectations resembled my experiences in Turkey. When I initially answer that I did my best to not have expectations for the outcome never usually matches those expectations. In the case for our trip, my experience would have exceeded any expectations I could have conjured. The exchange between the students and faculty, as well as the cultural and educational aspects has become a significant part of my life as I reflect on the trip as a whole. I cannot extend my thanks enough to those who provided for our experience individually and financially. It's amazing to think of how something so simply beautiful can touch all who were involved so strongly. I am certain that all of my Turkish and Armenian friends would agree with me. Thanks to ATA Fellows, I can now share my story and my journey with many others while we all continue to promote peaceful humanity through tourism and friendship.
My experiences in Turkey and being a part of the ATA Fellows have left me smiling all the time. I’m lucky to have made such great friends and learned so much in just a short time span. I have caught myself changing my actions to resemble what I learned from Turkish and Armenian culture. This experience inspired me to learn more about other cultures and showed me that there’s no limit to where you can meet some of the most important or influential people in your life. Thanks again! ?
Our recent trip to Kars was an experience that will not soon be forgotten. It was amazing to be able to meet our group members with whom we had been working on our class projects face-to-face. What was even more amazing was seeing the transition from group and class members to friends. I still keep in contact with my new Armenian and Turkish friends and am happy to have been able to learn from and share with them.
The trip to Kars was a great opportunity to expand my horizons. It was great to meet so many likeminded people from different parts of the world.
The ATA Fellow trip to Kars was a life changing experience. I will never forget the friendships I made and the experiences we were able to share. I feel so lucky to be a part of such a great group! Kankas for life!
The ATA fellows trip to Kars was an amazing- once in a lifetime experience. We learned that friendship is not bound by language, time zone or culture but is a bond so strong that being an ocean away cannot stop the deep feelings we developed in such a short time. I hope to keep the friendships I have made forever and that others can take from our experience that it doesn't matter where you come from but instead we are shaped by the company we keep and drive that we have to be connected.
Feedback about Gainesville Trip:
Armenian State University of Economics (ASUE)
Sometimes words cannot describe the emotions and impressions that one can have deep in the heart. This is one of these cases. All these days I spent with ATAF were pretty nice, unforgettable, completely magical and amazing. It was a great experience for me to be in such a state that can be a dream for many people and for all this I'm grateful to ATAF project. Also this experience will help me to achieve goals in the profession I have chosen for my whole life...
I would like to write about hotels that were pretty nice and gorgeous. In Jacksonville we stayed at Courtyard by Marriott, in Orlando Hyatt Convention Center, In St. Augustine it was Casa Monica and it gave me an opportunity to get in touch with the hospitality and service of Florida's hotels. I really like all of above mentioned hotels. It was a great experience for me. Also we were in many sites and engaged in a lot of activities, so I can mention a few of them` Universal, World Disney, Daytona International Speedway and so on.
But as for me the best day was the day when we went to the University of Florida campus...it was fantastic, and finally I saw it. Campus tour was awesome. I did like it very much.
I'm also pleased about this project because of my American and Turkish friends. I'm especially very happy for the friendship I made with them. They are intelligent, positive, smart, etc. I like them and hope our friendship will be continued. And finally ATAF project is a very bright, colorful page in my memory book so I will keep it close to my heart and will remember all the minutes, all the seconds I spent with ATAF rising stars unbelievable nice project.
In short, I'm thankful to all the people who are working in this project, and wish the project to be continued.
GO ATAF Rising Stars!!!
I had a wonderful and incredible trip to the USA, Florida. Florida represents one of the best known and most popular US holiday destinations. The most popular attractions in Florida are unquestionably in Orlando, including the world famous Disney World. While in Orlando, we also visited Universal Studios.
The project's aims are to develop and enhance destination marketing and management, to contribute to social cohesion and reduce income disparities. We will collaborate on a project to encourage tourism development initiatives. This project is promoting peace through tourism and destination marketing and management, cultural understanding between the USA, Turkey and Armenia. Our trip to the USA, Florida was wonderful, filled with unforgettable impressions. This project helped me to improve my professional skills, to use my theoretical knowledge in practice. I made a lot of friends both from Florida and Turkey. I learnt a lot about their culture, customs and traditions. Energy and flexibility are key to designing an Orlando vacation that anyone can enjoy. Each unique cottage at Steinhatchee Landing Resort is designed and situated to showcase the resort's surrounding natural beauty. Watching the sunset from your screened private cottage porch, falling asleep to the breeze blowing through the pines... We visited the University of Florida in Gainesville. The University of Florida (UF) is a major, public, comprehensive, land-grant, research university. The state's oldest and most comprehensive university, UF is among the nation's most academically diverse public universities. This is a large campus with a large student population. Florida is one of the three largest universities and one of the top research universities in the country with 17 colleges and 150 research centers. University of Florida is definitely a great university. I am very happy, that I had an opportunity to be there. And now Florida, Orlando, Gainesville, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Steinhatchee landing resort and of course Disney and Universal are the first on my Top 10 list of favorite places. This trip was a good practice and experience for me and I will use this knowledge to develop tourism in my country. We look forward to expanding our increasingly beneficial relations with American and Turkish friends and hope that the future will bring us closer collaboration.
Our trip to the USA Florida was just a miracle for me. I could never imagine about a present like that. We have been in 6 cities in the state of Florida so I want to share my experience with you day by day. We arrived in Jacksonville on December 26 and had a rest at Marriott Convention hotel. We met our American friends there, which was really awesome for us. Then the second day we spent in Daytona city where we had such an interesting tour by bus in Daytona International Speedway. Our tour guide told us the whole story about the speedway. We learnt a lot about it. On our third day Turkish team arrived to Orlando which was the city of miracles and adventures. I have never had such fun and excitement before those days. At first we went to Universal studio where we could see lots of attractions each of which was unique with their beauty and solves. All of us enjoyed that day. Especially majority of us liked The Harry Potter's world where everything was depicted and presented the same way as it is in movie. We just couldn't believe that all that was real and that we were actually participants of it. Then we had the second fantastic two days in Disney world, where we spent our New Year. I was so happy to have an opportunity to be there because in Disney each part of attractions or parks seemed to be a part of history or movie or just a fairy tale. I've learnt a lot about American culture such as standing in a queue. The culture of that was so developed in states that I wished it to be the same in my country. Besides, I was impressed by the employees' work which was so quick without any rest. In a word, I was just glad to be there and enjoy the New Year party with American and Turkish students.
The next day we went to the city of St. Augustine. There we had a tour by bus during which we learnt a lot about the city. I saw the ancient places of it; especially I liked the churches and the way in which they were built. Also hotels and other buildings had something from ancient times and in my estimate that was interesting and adorable.
Then we went to Gainesville city where the University of Florida was. The city was the center of studying where the majority of population was the students. I liked the campus and everything around it. There was a huge football stadium for Gators, which was so beautiful built. Then after our tour in Gainesville we went to Steinhatchee resort where I could finally find calmness and something peaceful. It was just a place where lots of American houses were built and all that was surrounded with trees and clean air. In Steinhatchee we had a tour in a forest and finally had a meeting and such an interesting discussion with the resort's manager who told us a lot about it, how he created the whole resort, what he was going to do and so on. During that conversation, I could identify many important facts and tools for destination marketing. And on January 4th our adventures were unfortunately ended and we departed from Jacksonville to Armenia. So that is all about our trip to the USA. I really appreciate the role of it in my life, because I could never even think a bit about it, but as you see my dreams finally came true and I'm happy to be a part of such a grandiose trip.
1. Arriving at Jacksonville and coming to the hotel at night and meeting with American friends.
2. Going with American friends to the Daytona Speedway, enjoying our interesting tour by train and after that arriving at the hotel and waiting for Turkish friends.
3. Going to Universal, having a great time and being impressed with everything we saw there. It was also great to see how they implement management of everything for doing their bests. The fact that people can make money from everything in USA was great too; for example, raincoats or people drier. We know that getting a ticket each attraction is free for you, but it is not the same for my example. So going to some water attraction you become wet, and it doesn't matter you want or not, if the weather is cold you need to pay money for people drier to dry.
4, 5. Our unforgettable days to Disney land started. Disney was really huge, and at the same time really wonderful. Unfortunately during the first day in Disney we couldn't manage to be in many attractions but we saw small countries and were very impressed. The second day in Disney I think was the best during these 10 days. We managed to be nearly in every attraction of Magic world, we also met 2013 there, and the fireworks were fantastic. I also was impressed by how Disney's staff managed the crowd. There were more than 90000 people in Disney at New Year Eve and the streets were rather narrow, but I can say that there was no mess.
6. We went to the oldest city of Florida. Being at this city, I was impressed by the brightness of the old city at night.
7. We were in UF campus. I liked it very much. Unfortunately we couldn't see much because it was New Year holiday in Gainesville. 8, 9. Our last two days we spend in Steinhatchee resort. It was so quiet and pleasant. The nature was very beautiful; I also liked our boat trip there. Then we returned to Armenia bringing with us great memories, useful experiences.
I had a wonderful trip to the USA, Florida. During my trip I visited Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona, St. Augustine, Steinhatchee landing resort, Disney and Universal, Gainesville. I felt the rush of adrenaline as I experienced the innovative thrills and unexpected adventures of Universal's Islands of Adventure. At Islands of Adventure, I took a journey through remarkably themed islands where the world's most cutting edge rides and attractions challenge all my senses. Here timeless myths, legends, children's stories, cartoons and comic books come to life right before my eyes. I explored The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where I experienced pulse-pounding rides and attractions that transport me into a world of magical thrills including the exciting new Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. We also visited the University of Florida, which was very big and we saw only some parts of the university. I had an opportunity for being there. I had new friends both from the USA and Turkey. This project was great for me; I had a lot of new emotions and feelings, learned new things, which I can use in my future career. My dreams came true and I learnt a lot about their culture and customs. Those days are unforgettable.
Day 1. 26/12 after a tiring flight we arrived to the hotel, when we met Asli, Semih, Jessica, Taylor and Yasamin. We had a lot of fun together.
Day 2. 27/12 Shopping day.
Day 3. 28/12 We went to Daytona- International Speedway. We saw a lot of things, and especially I liked cars, which were really amazing for me, we saw drivers who were driving their cars and motors too fast. I learned about the history of Daytona.
Day 4. 29/12 Turkish team had already arrived the previous night, and after greeting everyone we went Universal studio where we spent fantastic time, enjoyed different attractions. From this day I especially liked behavior of people. It was an opportunity for as to get in touch with others and I was pleased seeing their friendly greetings and behavior.
Day 5. 30.12 We went to the Disney world, and again have fun. During this day I met people from different nations, have an opportunity to talk to some of them. This gave as chance to find the best way of interaction with people. It was also kind of practice, because seeing behavior of the staff to tourists, we learned a lot from them.
Day 6. 31.12 Again a day in the Disney World, a day of miracles and new emotions. After visiting attractions, we went to see fireworks. In the midnight we celebrated New Year-a year apart from our families. The output of this day is again knowledge about how to make competitive destination for tourists.
Day 7. 01. 01 We went to St. Augustine. From this day I learned that for making an attractive tourism destination, there is a need to create an image for it. As for me St. Augustine is a perfect example of it.
Day 8. 02.01 After going to Gainesville, visiting the University of Florida, we went to Steinhatchee were we spent 2 days. Steinhatchee was another good example of an attractive destination with good created image.
Day 9. 03.01 Last day together, we spent visiting different places of interest in Steinhatchee.
Day 10. 04.01 Last day. This trip was really great, each of us learned something interesting I think, and that knowledge can be useful in the future for us. So, great-great thanks to everyone who supported this project, and I hope such projects will continue.
During the trip to Florida, I was taking notes every day, which I am sure I will be able to use in my future life. Here are the outputs of the whole trip
1. Working and concentrating in a time-conscious manner
2. Ability to analyze and make decisions in unexpected situations
3. To be more tolerant towards to each other
4. To be more polite, careful, friendly and patient
5. Smile even in unlike situations
6. To work in team
7. Other type of food
Now we are living in the world of communication, so we need to be all together, to have many friends from different countries, to exchange our experience, so we can develop tourism in our countries.
In our trip it was very good, that we had fun and many different tours, stayed in different hotels, because in that way we could practically see and learn how to manage tours effectively. In our trip I think it would be good if we could get together at the end of each day and talk about the day we had, discuss our experience and also discuss our plans for future. During our days in Universal and Disney I liked very much the way they organize the lines and everything. I also liked workers there, because they were very kind and helpful.
I liked Steinhatchee. That place is really good for families, because the accommodations are very comfortable and this place is good if you want to be alone with your friends and family and relax, to live in another world for a while.
The city tour of St. Augustine, I liked how they introduce their city, because that is very important. If you can introduce your city with love and interest, then you can attract others and maybe they will like and love it too.
This project was really great for me; I had a lot of new emotions and feelings, learned new things that I can use in my future career.
As this program is really very useful and interesting, we mustn't let it disappear, we need to continue it.
In order to continue this project I suggest create web site where we can gather information about our countries, about Armenia, the USA and Turkey. In this way we can spread information about our countries among tourists, which will help us to attract them and invite to our countries. Then we can gather again and organize meetings, conferences, exhibitions, where we will be able to attract tourists and spread all information about our countries that we gathered in the web site. After that we can create interesting new tours for tourists and organize them. I think this will be great opportunity for us to work for our countries.
Actually I want to speak about the most impressive things that I have seen during the trip. I want to compare everything that I see abroad to our home country. The trip helped to broaden knowledge on different cultures and understand the differences between them. So, I decided to highlight some bullet points, which will present my thoughts in structured way.
Cultural shock. The difference between our 3 countries was big. Everything was different-food, people, smile, approach.....)
The quality of services. I guess in our country we should pay attention on the quality of services, employees should participate in trainings, which will increase the level of service.
Huge theme parks, managing and organizing the queues. In our country we haven't such kind of parks, like Disneyland, Universal, but we have different type of destinations-historical, cultural, ethnographic and we should find our distinguishing characteristics to attract potential tourists.
The prospect of promoting cultural understanding, mutual respect and peace via travel and tourism is an opportunity for Armenia to strengthen cross-border relations. I think this program was the best experience of my life. The program allowed for a continuous exchange of ideas as well as interaction among colleagues enabling me to contribute to the tourism in Armenia with new ideas.
I had a wonderful time in Florida during those few days. I had the opportunity to experience a lot and learn a bit of American culture. Definitely would have been great if we could stay there for a little longer so we could see and learn more. Anyway, I have bright and amazing impressions. Those days I had the opportunity to interact with Americans. I was able to notice several differences that are between American and Armenian people. First thing that comes up to my mind when I think about Americans is how smiley they are. I love that fact of them being positive and smiling most of the times. Another thing is that people living on this side of the planet are not as formal as we are. They try to be simple and practice. But out of all these I really like the fact that Americans show what they really feel. If they feel sad, tired or if they are angry they will simply tell you that. If somebody offers them something and they want it, they'll just take it. On the other side in this case Armenians will say "no" at first and after hearing the same "well, take it" they will take the thing. On the first day of our trip we visited the Atlantic Ocean which was in front of the hotel we stayed in. From that time all the bright impressions came to me. It was a little windy and not the way we expected it to be but, anyway, we enjoyed ourselves, took some pictures and wrote "ATAF" on the sand. The other day we went to a place called International Speedway which is a race track in Daytona Beach. We had a guide that told us about this place. The next day we went to the Universal Studio in Orlando. We got on many different rides. All of them were interesting themselves but personally I liked the Harry Potter ride the most. I also enjoyed watching 3Ds a lot. On the fourth day of our trip we went to Disney World Resort. We spent the whole day in Disney World Resort. It was amazing! I loved the fact that Disney brings joy to everyone and makes people feel young and cheerful no matter how old they are. It's fun to walk in the Disney parks and feel like you're in a fantasy. We had the chance to see some interesting symbols of different countries. Among them was my beloved country Germany. Besides, we went to Hollywood Studios and again experienced 3D. On the fifth day we spent the New Year's Eve in Disney World Resort. It's definitely the place where dreams come true and everybody lets his/her memories begin. On the sixth day we took a tour in St. Augustine city. We learnt a lot about the city. I admired by the beauty and the historical value of this city especially at night. On the seventh day we went to Gainesville. It's the home to the University of Florida. The university campus is the seventh largest university campus by enrollment in the U.S. On the last day we stayed in Steinhatchee landing resort. It was significant for us as well according to the fact that we got our certificates, which was the most expected part of our trip to the US. Overall, this trip was a good experience. We got acquainted with the American lifestyle, gained knowledge about the culture and definitely brought the American spirit to the Armenian culture and mentality.
Dokuz Eylul University (DEU)
Safa Yigit Berkay:
That picture explains everything about us ATA Fellows!! I'm really glad to meet with all of you... As Yasamin mentioned we will be not only friends, we will be lifelong friends!! I will keep in touch 1 by 1 with all of you. Maybe we will work together in some business; maybe we will meet in Izmir, Yerevan, Florida or somewhere else. I'm really happy that Asli gave us opportunity to meet with you!! Those 2 trips were perfect experience for me I can say they were my "best" in my whole life... getting to know people from different cultures, different countries, perfect travels and trips with ATAFELLOWS, everything was perfect... I couldn't tell you my feelings with this keyboard. I just want to thank all of you guys to become a part of my life! Love You ALL!! If you visit anywhere in Turkey, "Call us Certainly" =)
Gokce Doner: Dear my friends and lecturers,
Everything began with being chosen for this project. Before we came to Kars, we didn't know that today we would have such a good friends from the different parts of the world. Everything began with saying "LET THE MEMORIES BEGIN". The last trip to Florida gave chance to gather again in the same place. At the same time, we saw different attractions and destinations. We had the chance to compare them with each other and those at home. On the other side, I began my new year with all of you. I think that it is important for me to celebrate the New Year which is the first time without my family. And, I am so happy about it. While we were hugging at midnight, I understood we will have to come together in another place!!! Thanks all of you for these amazing memories... Especially our lecturers Ebru Gunlu, Hasmik Hambardzumyan, Asli Tasci, Artak Manukyan , Mustafa Tanyeri and Gürhan Aktas for being patient with us during this trip :)
Our memories are unforgettable...
Hi my dear friends and lecturers. After an amazing trip I can say that you made me live the experience of my life. I'm renaming this trip as "TRIP OF MY FIRSTS'" :) Thank you all of you for choosing me as a member of this trip. Be assured that this project won't be a failure and will continue with other effective projects.
Now, time to study for us :) I hope we will meet again. Thanks, hugs and kisses to all of you :)
Ozlem Ozkan: I'm very happy to have attended the Cross-cultural peace trip in Florida. I had several instances of culture shock. The most important one was food. As opposed to our country, people like to eat a lot of sweet-tasting things for breakfast. The other one was that there were many elderly people working at fast food restaurants in Orlando. In Turkey one doesn't usually see elderly workers in such jobs. Also, being patient is very important in the US. For instance, in a line for a movie-themed ride, you might need to wait more than 155 minutes. In Turkey, one doesn't come across such lines, perhaps because Turkish people are not that patient. When I told my friends and family how long I waited in a line for a ride, they couldn't believe me. This trip was good for us and we learned a lot of things. We were together as friends from different cultural backgrounds. We spent enjoyable time together and learnt about our differences. Most importantly, we learned about our cultures and lifestyles. Thanks to everyone for sharing our excitement.
My dreams came true thanks to ATA Fellows. Kars and US trips were unforgettable experiences for me. In Kars we were a more crowded group than we were in the US and we became friends with Armenian and American students. We learned about different cultures through tourism. It was an effective project. After we met in Florida, I could not forget this amazing trip. Universal and Walt Disney are incredible resorts. Of course Harry Potter was the best experience in Universal and the Tower was the biggest craze of my life. Walt Disney was my wish when I was a child. With the fireworks at midnight, it was the most glamorous New Year celebration I've ever had in my life. I am sure that I will tell my children in the future. In Universal and Disney, everyone waited in long lines but they were very patient; in Turkey, this is impossible. Every worker greets you with a smiling face. I learned that the essence of tourism is to be positive. In my country if people get retired, they do not work but in the US, old people were still working, especially in fast food restaurants. Other differences were eating habits, much of the food was sweet; not many restaurants use salt. People can leave their strollers unattended and go with their small children to scary rides; in this sense, I felt that Turkish people are more careful about their children than those in the US. In the following, we went to different destinations to see different types of touristic activities and facilities. Last day we had a discussion together. As a result, we understood the culture of Armenian & Turkey is closer to each other in various aspects such as eating habits, life styles, etc. I believe that experiences are more important than courses. I take pride in being an ATA Fellow. Thanks so much ?
Hi guys, I can't tell how much I miss you and how much sad I am since I cannot see you again :( But I hope that we will keep in touch. Don't forget that you have a place to stay in Turkey; I would love to host you anytime. Thanks to this project, I learned so much about Tourism and experienced lots of new things which I couldn't even imagine. Words are not enough to describe our Florida trip. It was incredible, amazing, wonderful, fantastic, magnificent ... Steinhatchee was my favorite. It was so peaceful and despite rainy weather, canoeing was so much fun. Thanks you all for your wonderful fellowship. Hope to see you again!
Hi everyone, both Kars and Florida trips were very valuable experience for me. I gained a lot of good friendships through this trip and had very good time during this trip. This program enabled me to learn that cultural differences between societies are not obstacle for having good relations and friendships with people from other countries. These days will be as wonderful memories in my mind forever. Hope to see you again.
Hi everyone! Firstly, it was an awesome trip for all of us, I am so happy to meet all of you. It was my first abroad trip; we had experienced a lot of things in United States. Now, we have wonderful memories with each other. We learned cultural similarities and differences of each other. It was an adventure for all of us! We developed our friendships in US and we had chance to talk with each other about our countries. We went to Disneyland, Universal, St. Augustine and saw a lot of different things there as my friends said. I believe that the US trip strengthened our friendship and relations between each other. I would like to thank to all of our lecturers for this trip. Hope to see you again!!!
Hello Guys! I am very glad to meet all of you and miss you guys... It was a great trip for us. Also, Disneyland, Universal and St. Augustine were amazing! We had beautiful memories together with ATA Fellows. Thanks for everything! I will never forget you guys... Take care yourself... I hope we can come together again! :)
Hello everyone, this trip is unforgettable memory for my life I lived my first and amazing times in this trip also I lived a lot of cultural experiences. It provided to me friendship, cultural-context and destination marketing. Also I have learnt a lot of differences between the cultures. Especially eating habits, life style are different from Turkish people. Seeing these differences was really experience for me. Besides, Disneyland, Universal and attractions are really unforgettable experiences for me. I can say that I have discovered my adventurous side and also learnt waiting and being patient. These factors were needed for these attractions in Disneyland and Universal and really I was very happy every moment on this trip. Also I have been to different destinations and learnt different atmospheres, weathers and life styles. And finally I had a lot of friends and I lived with them a lot of experiences along this trip, thank you to everyone for these opportunities and these exciting trips.
University of Florida (UF)
Most of my best memories from 2012 are memories of spending time with the ATA Fellows. I'm so happy I was able to attend the Florida trip with everyone and make such great friends from this program. I've learned so much from my experiences in both Turkey and Florida and from my new friends. New Year's Eve was perfect because I got to spend it with people I really care about from three different countries. This experience minimized the distance between us and showed me that it's easy to keep in contact with friends who are far away. From a tourism point of view, it was interesting to visit different destinations in Florida with a different outlook. I noticed things that international tourists focus on and realized that there are many things we excel in and that there are also things we can improve on. Ten days was not enough time to spend with you all but I look forward to keeping you all as life-long friends.
This program has been one of the greatest experiences in my life. Being exposed to so many different cultures and lifestyles has really opened my eyes to how diverse this World really is. I have made friends that I intend on keeping for life and have memories with them that I will never forget. I hope this program stays alive for future students and that those students continue to take an active role in completing the project goal. Best wishes to all of my friends that I made along the way. I can't wait to meet up again in the future.
As we all can agree, the friendships and experiences made during this trip are unforgettable. While we spent noteworthy time together, the appreciation and understanding is something we could not learn from the Internet or a book. It is the quality time that really stands out as a significant building block to understanding those of different cultures. I could not trade this time we spent for anything in the world. Lifelong kankas, timeless memories.
I can't believe it has been a month exactly since you left. I miss you all and wanted to share some of my thoughts: I am very happy we had the Florida trip together. As I said to you earlier, biggest reward for our collective effort was actualized the moment we met in the hotel lobby. We have known each other since last July, and I believe this trip strengthened our bond even further. Experiencing a major tourism destination like Florida with all of you, allowed for valuable instances of knowledge sharing, cultural exchange and learning. The diversity of the spots we visited, Daytona Beach, Orlando, St. Augustine and Steinhatchee enriched our experience immensely. The unique difference of each product and service offered to visitors at places like Orlando vs. St. Augustine, puts what we learn in classes into clear perspective. This trip, in this sense, was also a nice reminder of the richness and diversity of our field of study, tourism, not only as a complex amalgam of various sectors and businesses, but as the creator of venues for cultural encounters, learning, and transformative experiences. I sincerely consider myself a better person now that I have friends in Yerevan and Izmir, with whom I have climbed to the highest plains in Kars and got soaking wet kayaking through the Steinhatchee River in Florida. This is a friendship that extends across continents and becomes the very goal of our project; lasting peace.
Can't wait to see you again!