GMT Leadership Initiative is Launched in Cologne

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy is delighted to announce the launch of a new successful Leadership Initiative. Benjamin Didzuweit is a member of “Germany Meets Turkey: A Forum for Young Leaders” (GMT), an ICD program organized in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Istanbul Policy Center.

After attending a weeklong GMT Study Tour in 2007, Benjamin realized that there was a significant need for enhanced civil society dialogue and exchange within the German-Turkish relationship. Inspired by the individuals he met, Benjamin decided to initiate a project that would help to strengthen and support this relationship at the grass roots level: in high schools.

Now working in the Global Banking Division of Deutsche Bank’s Corporate and Investment Bank in Frankfurt am Main, Benjamin is originally from Cologne. After the GMT Study Tour in 2007, he returned to his hometown and met with the Director of his former high school, the Paul-Klee-Gymnasium, which had no previous record of exchange programs with Turkey. With help from the teachers of the school, his fellow Young Leaders in the GMT Forum, and the ICD, Benjamin successfully established the first high school exchange program between Cologne and Istanbul.

The program began in 2008, when the first group of eleven students from the Paul-Klee-Gymnasium travelled to Turkey to visit their new partner school, the Kadiköy Anadolu Lisesi in Istanbul, and continued when ten students from Kadiköy visited Cologne in May 2009. Thanks to the efforts of Benjamin an initiative has emerged from civil society that provides citizens of both countries the opportunity to take part in a unique intercultural exchange experience.

The creation and development of such a program takes a considerable amount of hard work, dedication, and the support of partners. In addition to the support of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy and the IPC Policy Center at Sabanci Univeristy in Istanbul, the exchange had the support of Deutsche Bank and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

On May 7th, 2009, Deutsche Bank hosted a high-level media event in their Cologne office, where they publicly announced their support of this program and the significant contribution it is making to sustaining and strengthening the German-Turkish relationship. Present at the event were the Director of the Paul Klee Gymnasium, students and teachers involved from both high schools, representatives from Deutsche Bank, the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy, and the Robert-Bosch Stiftung, and numerous journalists and media representatives.