Raindrop Turkish House is on the Mayor's International Newsletter, Volume 7, Issue 12

Standing in sharp contrast to its surroundings on West Bellfort Avenue and proximal to Beltway 8, the Raindrop Turkish House (RTH) prides itself on representing a little piece of Turkey on 30,000 square feet of real estate in Southeast Houston. With shimmering white walls and a ubiquitous turquoise blue, RTH's administrative staff know that the building probably raises a good many questions on first impression, but they are more than ready to supply answers.

In Turkish culture, rain is a symbol of prosperity and the raindrop is the harbinger of great success to come. With this image in mind, the Raindrop Turkish House (RTH), which was founded in 2000 as a non-profit organization aimed at fostering greater appreciation and understanding of Turkish culture, has since expanded rapidly across 8 states. Guided by the vision of its President/CEO, Mr. Mehmet Okumus, the RTH aims to provide a forum for those with different social, cultural, and educational backgrounds to participate in dialogue with members of the Turkish community and enhance mutual understanding.

Mr. Okumus notes that "interface" is the watchword of his organization. To this end, RTH organizes and hosts the Turkic Cultures and Children's Festival and annual Turkish Language Olympiad, as well as provides music, art, and culinary workshops year round, organizes outbound delegations to Turkey, cosponsors events with various Houston organizations, such as the Institute of Interfaith Dialogue and Houston Police Department, performs charitable outreach, in addition to many other activities. Expanding knowledge of the Turkish language is a key initiative of RTH, which offers language courses ranging from conversational to academic levels. In partnership with the University of Houston and University of Texas, RTH offers courses for college credit, while working with school districts across Texas to bring Turkish classes to public schools. RTH also organizes an annual Turkish Language Olympiad, in which students compete in categories such as language, singing, poetry, and folk dance, to share their knowledge. These events are open to all, and the RTH is always looking for new participants.

Mr. Okumus believes that bringing differing communities together to share their experiences and knowledge will create a more understanding environment in which to promote mutual esteem and prosperity. "In Turkey, a cup of coffee starts 40 years of friendship" smiles Mr. Okumus. "And a cup of coffee is always available." For more information, please visit www.turkishhouse.org.