“Emerald Hills Institute was founded by educators to create an inclusive space for all without any polarization,” said Dr. Mehmet Soyer, executive director of Emerald Hills and assistant professor at Utah State University. “Our goal is to create a common ground for different parties, religions and points of view to get together around the table and talk about current topics. We do this through three steps.”
The first step is creating opportunities for community awareness and collaboration through interfaith and intercultural dialogue.
“We facilitate round-table discussions to create safe environments for individuals to express themselves, even when there are opposing opinions,” said Soyer. “We don’t want just one group of like-minded people.”
The second step is focusing on education, specifically weekend and after-school programs for refugee children and teenagers. These programs, such as college and congressional mentoring, are designed to integrate them into society.
The third step is being involved in community service, such as leading COVID-19 relief fundraisers, planting trees and volunteering at women’s and homeless shelters and Habitat for Humanity.
“Giving back to the community is an essential part of our mission,” said Soyer. “The Emerald Hills community mostly consists of Turkish-American immigrants. But, our goal is to not only serve our community, but to serve other local communities, especially those who have accepted and supported us as immigrants.”
For example, Soyer works with the Student Union Services at Utah State University to support students who need meal or food help.
“These students skip meals because they don’t have resources,” said Soyer. “Emerald Hills sponsors these students and creates a bridge to provide them with what they need.”
Soyer encourages individuals who want to be involved with Emerald Hills, whether by volunteering or donating, to visit: emeraldhillsinstitute.org.
As a Salt Lake Chamber member, Emerald Hills aims to expand its network while recruiting Turkish-American immigrants from other states so they can invest in Utah and the benefits available in the business community.
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