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Deborah Reichmann

“My name is Debbie Reichmann and I am from, I currently live in Potomac, Maryland and I am from Georgetown University. As everyone has been speaking, I have become more and more nervous as to how I can add to this with any relevance not because just of ego or not because we all managed to speak a fair amount of such wonderful things and truly moving things. When you started this, saying that we were gonna speak and we will get the DVD and we will listen to it again, you know I said yeah sure, whatever, sounds nice; but no! Ali, you are absolutely right: I will take this and I will listen to every single one of these statements again probably more than once because the kernels of truth I mean the golden nuggets that have been put forward to this table already this evening have been tremendous. So is now my contribution, as best as I can:

This trip has been, I am seeing it three ways: through joy, through epiphany, and through excitement. The joy was for me; it hasn’t stopped; it is a joy of learning. I have started learning the second my foot got off the plane at the airport and it has not stopped. I have been learning with the formal tours. I have been learning with the sessions we have at the schools and the University and the Authors and Journalists Foundation and the Hospital. I have been learning perhaps most of all in the conversations I have had with each and every person on this trip. I have been learning with myself when I have seen and when I have walked around and taking the time to stop, not just look at the historical sites, and not just listen to the words coming at me but the meaning behind them, and the people walking in the street. For me learning is joy; there is nothing greater in the world. I am a book worm, I always tease that I know lots of random things and that you don’t learn random things and have them stick into your head if you don’t love learning, because otherwise you wouldn’t remember them. Now sometimes I have difficulty in remembering things that I am supposed to remember but that’s not for here and now. So it has been a trip of joy!

The epiphany happened today: We have been going to the schools, the different elements you have shown us actually such a broad array of places and people and institutions of the Gulen movement I kept asking you the same question, because very much like Marie, I couldn’t believe there wasn’t a centralized force, that there wasn’t a quantitative measurement, that there wasn’t someone somewhere counting; keeping track statistics. I kept asking how do you know if this is working; how do you know if this is what you are doing? And then today it finally hit me that the answer that should have given to me: That’s not the point! Earlier this week I remember, I don’t remember the context, but I remember telling the story: it is a famous story in Judaism. One of our scholars, Hillel, he was asked to summarize the Bible, the Torah, the teachings of Judaism in one sentence. He said not a problem. Not only one sentence but standing only on one foot. He recited what is now known as the golden rule, which is, do onto other as you would have done onto yourselves. The rest is all commentary, now go study! I realized that is you! That is what you do! You behave you have truly internalized the meaning of that which to achieve peace and to achieve your goals, you must act on them, you must be them. You make these institutions and invite these groups to further that a bigger action so it’s not just you the individual who does that which it is but you can stretch it as far as you possibly can and as the group gets bigger, the impact too will grow. And so measuring it is not the point. The point is to do it! And it took me until today to really get that. And it is very moving. That was my epiphany.

The excitement comes in that: I am said to be leaving, but I am thrilled to be back to going to work, because I and I don’t know how many others of you here have the opportunity but I do in what I do. I can take this, and I can do! I can literally start Wednesday when I am in the office I will start talking to people in what ways to implement what you do where I work. I have got, I am thinking, the wheels are turning in my brain for the different programs. Programs we already have and how I can modify them and bring in some of the thoughts. Programs that I can institute but most importantly and I am already rehearsing the speech in my head: we have a staff meeting at campus ministry next week, and what I would hope to present to them, and I hope it is to be well accepted, is that as a group we too must; we are pretty good at about being good people and into social justice but the true integration and dialog: we need to raise it to another level. The students, the university, need to see that the campus ministry is not five separate chaplaincies but one group of people whose aim is to show, not teach, teach in the true sense of the meaning, not not book teaching but teach peace and faith and morality in our actions. And not make programs which are fine and students can come and have a twenty minute presentation and eat, because that’s what college students do, but they can have a continuing sense of that I walk around campus with the program coordinator, the Muslim chaplaincy and that I am planning things with the leader of the Catholic chaplaincy and that we work together and we do things together that have perhaps less to do with religious liturgy and sort of the trappings of the religion and more to do with the true, what I consider, the true objective religion which is to make us better people to make the world a better place; and that we can do that by example, better than any other way.

This is what I have taken from this trip. It has been an amazing experience. I could not have learned more. I am happy and emotional as well. I expected a lot from this trip. Many of my coworkers have been on this trip before and I heard great things. They all said you would be exhausted. They don’t like you rest. I knew that. May be I should have warned everyone else. No listen that is what, ok, ok, I will just do! But they didn’t tell me, maybe there is no way of knowing how everyone is gonna react. I had no way of knowing how deep the change: because you have changed me. I hope I can continue to change on my own. I hope the change is good and will go further. Since I work in DC you will be hearing from me a lot because I have a feeling I will be leaning on you for help on what I have on my big plans. Just on a later note, I want to remind everyone that the traffic in Istanbul is terrific… (laughs)”

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