Each donation’s return for future generations will be in the form of ‘a community with contemporary values’

Esra Yazıcı Tözge, ACI'84

Donation Type: Light a Torch!

I studied at ACI from 1977 to 1984. I was among the ones celebrating the centennial of our school. At the time, we were a school for girls only. I was a successful student. But my prominent side was participating in social activities. I was always a part of the Student Association during my school years. I served as the Student Association President in middle school and in my senior year in high school and I was elected May Queen.

I believe that ACI taught me values such as taking responsibility, fighting relentlessly, trusting in yourself, helping others, speaking your mind and standing up against injustice for all and gave me hundreds of siblings.

In addition to the school curriculum, having several social responsibility clubs and committees enabled each one of us to evolve in our own way. ACI is a real educational institution. From the moment we set foot in the school, every step and every experience was conceived for us to become the individuals we are today. Looking back, I can see that the school calendars they gave us on the first day we started school were in fact very useful tools for all ACI students to make their long-term plans, manage their agenda, take notes and fulfill their responsibilities as individuals. The Auditorium exits, designed to prepare us for emergencies like fire, earthquake, etc., simple habits turning into reflexes like staying at our desks in certain situations, all helped us become responsible, sensitive and exemplary citizens of the community. We were the ones to organize weekly assemblies where each one of us would go on stage to show our talents without feeling shy. We held rallies to be elected to the Student Association and we gave propaganda speeches in front of 300 people and our closest friends, saying, 'Vote for me!' We experienced victory and defeat. Through debate classes and clubs, we learned how to defend even the ideas we did not believe in and to think long and hard beyond stereotypes. We learned cooking, dishwashing, knitting, sewing and embroidery in Home EC classes. We learned how to use the typewriter and write in beautiful handwriting. Every weekend we went to classical music concerts and researched musical works, orchestras, instruments and composers. We also learned how to comprehend what we listened to, differentiate and love music. We had classes that made us love sports and the arts. I do not think there was any other time in my life that was so full when every minute added value.

After ACI, I studied economics at Boğaziçi University. I was the first and only female member to be elected to the Sports Committee at Boğaziçi University. After me, other female ACI graduates continued to be elected to the Sports Committee. When I graduated in 1988, I went to Denmark through AIESEC for a five-month internship in Copenhagen. Then I worked at Henkel Turyağ for eight years and Saint Gobain Weber for five. During this period when I lived in İzmir, I was the president of the Izmir Branch of the Boğaziçi Alumni Association. Then I moved to Istanbul and I have been working for the Kale Group for the last 15 years.

While at ACI, we would hold joint meetings with Üsküdar and Tarsus American College Student Associations. My friend Mehmet Nane, who I met during these meetings and later studied together at Boğaziçi University, called me last year and told me that he would become the Chairman of SEV and that he wanted me to be on the Board as well. Having been raised with the 'Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve' motto, I gladly accepted his offer. When I joined the SEV Resource Development Committee, we saw that the SEV umbrella lacked an institutional structure in terms of alumni relations and resource development. So we decided to design a project to build this structure and also to support our alumni associations. The first thing we dis was to establish a mechanism where we could receive regular, even if small, contributions from our alumni. But first we had to find a name for our campaign. I reached out to our ACI'84 WhatsApp group and 'Light a Torch' stood out as campaign name. This was the idea of by my classmate Rana Tonguç. Another classmate, Müge Ceyhan, who is the President of CBA Branding Agency, arranged for their Paris office to design the logo and corporate identity of our campaign as a gift for us. Then we made the announcement through our Alumni Association. The most donations made to date came from my classmates, ACI '84...

Whenever I meet an alumnus, I see a sister or a brother. We have such similar values that we are more than siblings. I believe that the more we increase the number of people educated with these values, the better we can do for our country, our nation and the world. This is why I think donating to SEV is a great thing. We use all of these donations for successful children with limited financial means. As a matter of fact, the amount accumulated in the Torch fund is matched equally by the Foundation every year.

By a Board resolution, both the donations made to 'Light a Torch' and in name, are matched. I believe that every donation made to SEV finds its place and its return to our and future generations will be in the form of a community with contemporary values. Instead of worrying about our country, taking responsibility and using a small amount of my money for the right purpose makes me feel like I am taking the right step.

Interview Date: November 2017

Röportaj Tarihi: Kasım 2017