ATAA UN Related Announcement# 30

In Support of UN World Oceans Day (A/RES/63/111 (June 8)

Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA)
METU Institute of Marine Science, Türkiye
Ankara University, Türkiye

Present a Webinar on:

The Blue Planet: Conscious and Sustainable Steps for the Oceans

Sunday, June 9, 2024
12:00pm ET, 11:00am CT, 9:00am PT, 19:00 TR

– – – Online Registration – – –

 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Language: English



On June 9, 2024, The Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications (DGC), will hold a virtual event titled “⁠The Blue Planet: Conscious and Sustainable Steps for the Oceans” in support of (June 8) – World Oceans Day (A/RES/63/111. 

The oceans cover over 70% of the planet. It is our life source, supporting humanity’s sustenance and that of every other organism on earth. The ocean produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen. Even though all its benefits, the ocean is now in need of support.

With 90% of big fish populations depleted, and 50% of coral reefs destroyed, we are taking more from the ocean than can be replenished. We need to work together to create a new balance with the ocean that no longer depletes its bounty but instead restores its vibrancy and brings it new life.

World Ocean Day reminds the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our Planet and a major source of food and medicine and a critical part of the biosphere.


Program Introduction

(June 8) – World Oceans Day (A/RES/63/111.  Plastics, micro plastics and other forms of pollution contaminating oceans, threatening the health of the oceans, daggering life on earth and economy.  Algal blooms are an environmental epidemic that plagues coastal communities across the globe, it specifically impacted the coastal communities of the Marmara Sea in Turkey. 

In this program we will host world known environmental activist Erden Eruç, who not only holds 18 Guinness World Records and in the same time he is the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation of the world by human power, first to row the three major oceans: Atlantic, Pacific and Indian, and collected data about oceans and birds and marine life during his voyages; he raised awareness about plastics in our oceans.

Our youth participants are passionate about protecting the environment especially oceans and they will talk about their discoveries and actions they are doing at a local level.


Pınar Basgöze
Play for Oceans Music Video

 Opening Remarks and Introduction by

Alev Wieland
ATAA President Elect


Dr. Selim Erhan
ATAA Trustee and ATAA UN Committee Member

Youth Speakers

Alya Rana Video
Waves of Hope: The Value of Ocean Life 

Berk Özsoy
New innovations – Bacteria to dry out the plastics in the ocean

Arda Keskin
International agreements for the protection of the seas 

Erol Taylan Lisesivdin
Importance Of Unwanted Marine Vehicles in Preventing Marine Pollution

Yasemin Knott
The human impact on our oceans, and simple steps
we can all take to help to improve ocean sustainability

Ela Gӧkçiğdem
Avşa Project

Keynote Speaker

Erden Eruç
Bearing Witness

Burak Besir
Play for Oceans Music

Upcoming programs announcement by

Yücel Burdurlu
Co-Chair ATAA UN Committee & ATAA Midwest Region Past VP

Closing Remarks by

Alev Wieland
ATAA President Elect



Erden Eruç

Accomplished Ocean rower, Adventurer, USCG Master 50GRT and Sailing Instructor

Erden Eruç is one of the leading ocean rowers in the world today; he is an accomplished outdoor athlete, adventurer, delivery captain and sailing instructor. An inductee into the Guinness Hall of Fame, he holds 18 Guinness World Records, is the recipient of the 2013 Citation of Merit from the prestigious Explorers Club and one of the 2013 Adventurers of the Year – “Nine individuals changing the face of global adventure” by the Outside Magazine. He is listed in the 2009, 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2024 Guinness Books of World Records.

Eruç is now an Entrant in the 2026 Golden Globe Race. This prestigious sailing race requires sailors to compete in standard 32-36 ft standard full keel yachts built before 1988, nonstop without the use of GPS or chart plotter sailing in keeping with the spirit of the original 1968 GGR.

Eruç is best known for his first solo circumnavigation by human power which he completed between 2007 and 2012. He is the first person to have rowed the three major oceans – the Pacific, the Indian and the Atlantic.

In 2021-2022, Eruç rowed across the Pacific Ocean from Crescent City in California to Legazpi in the Philippines. Departing in June 2021, with stops in Hawaii and in Guam, he completed this crossing in March 2022 which was registered as the first crossing of the Pacific Ocean by rowboat from North America to Asia.

As an Ocean Ambassador for Ocean Recovery Alliance, Eruç raised awareness about plastics in our oceans, inspiring change with audiences and classrooms around the world. He carried a hydrophone until Guam to gather ambient sound data to help a scientific survey of Beaked Whales and Sperm Whales. This scientific mission earned his endeavor a Flag Expedition status by the Explorers Club. An article about this was published in the Journal of Aquatic Mammals by the title: “Acoustic Detections of Cetaceans from a Towed Recording System on a Trans-Pacific Rowing Expedition.”

With two Masters of Science degrees in engineering and an MBA, Eruç is the founder of the Seattle based 501(c)(3) nonprofit Around-n-Over with a mission to educate and inspire children. Human powered journeys are the source of their dispatches from the field. To date, Around-n-Over has raised and applied over $100k toward its educational projects.



Pınar Başgöze

Faculty Member, MacPhail Center for Music

Pınar Başgöze has served on the Turkish American Association of Minnesota (TAAM) Board as Vice President-President Elect in the 2018-2020 term, and as President in the 2020-2022 term. Prior to that position at TAAM, she had been involved in co-coordinating two major events, Passage to Turkey I and Passage to Turkey II, organized by TAAM, to introduce Turkish musical and folklore traditions to Minnesotans.

A native of Ankara, Turkiye, Pınar Başgöze received her B. A. and M. A. degrees in piano performance under the tutelage of Professor Banu Perk at Hacettepe University Ankara State Conservatory in Turkiye, studied Piano Pedagogy and Performance with Professor Maria Curcio in London and piano performance with Dr. Paul Shaw at the University of Minnesota School of Music. She is a member of Duo Harmonia, formerly known as Başgöze-Pinto Piano Duo, founded in 2008 with pianist and MacPhail Faculty Susana Pinto. Their duo received the 2018 MacPhail Artist Development Grant, funded by The McKnight Foundation, to record their first CD, Harmonia. Pianist Pınar Başgöze recently received the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant FY 2020 for commissioning pieces for piano duet and narrator composed by three different composers from three different countries, based on Minnesotan, Portuguese, and Turkish folk tales. Pınar is a full-time piano faculty member at MacPhail Center for Music, married to Jon Iverson, also a member of MacPhail Piano Faculty, and skillfully managing a life filled with teaching piano, performing, and raising her family.

Pınar Başgöze is a strong advocate of introducing Turkish culture and traditions to other cultures and connecting different cultures together through music, dance and arts. She is a true believer that cultural differences should neither segregate nor discriminate, but only draw people together.



Burak Beşir

Internationally Acclaimed, Award Winning Flutist, Multi- Instrumentalist and Composer

Internationally acclaimed and award winning Flutist, Composer and Multi-instrumentalist Burak Besir has a diverse career in music that includes main stage performances with professional orchestras, live bands and recording top film and television soundtracks, video games and albums.

Born in Cyprus, Burak received his early classical music education in Cyprus. With his teacher’s encouragement, at the age of fourteen, he moved to Turkey to attend the Ankara State Conservatory of Music (one of the finest music school in Turkey) as a boarding student. Here he completed senior high and post graduate degrees and graduated with distinction in flute performance. Following that, he attended Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and received a masters degree as a solo performer. Here he studied with David Nicholson.

He took the legendary Flutist Sir James Galway’s attention at a flute workshop that he attended. This gave him the opportunity to study with Sir James over the years. Later on, Burak has appeared as a guest artist at the Galway International Flute Festival in Italy and Switzerland many times and his flute choir arrangements of Mouquet’s “La Flute de Pan Op15″and Smetana’s “Moldau” and Dvorak “American Suite” are performed by the Galway Flute Choir in Switzerland. Other masterclasses he attended include William Bennett,  Jeanne Baxtresser, Robert Dick and William Boustany.

Burak received the UK Young Concert Artist Award in 2003. The award gave him the opportunity to give a number of concerts and recitals in Europe at the distinguished concert halls including Wigmore Hall.

From 2003 to 2008 he was the Second and Principal flute at the Istanbul Opera & Ballet and Istanbul Borusan Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gurel Aykal.

In 2008, Burak received Berklee College of Music’s “World Scholarship” and moved to America. His interest in composing and production led him to come to Berklee College of Music to study Contemporary Writing and Production and switched his focus on composing in addition to his performance career.

As the founder member of the World Flute Ensemble, he performed at the National Flute Association Conventions in Las Vegas, North Caroline and Chicago. His original compositions and flute arrangements are performed with the ensemble in many other conventions and concerts.

Burak is regularly featured and performed with the Boston based Video Game Orchestra, “VGO”. He toured and featured on live concerts with the orchestra at the East and West PAX game conventions , “The Legends of Zelda” live concert in Las Vegas and performed “Lord Of The RIngs” Suite at the Boston Symphony Hall. He performed at the 86th Oscar, the  very first live concert. Here he had the opportunity to share the stage under the conducting of the legendary Composers John Williams, Alexandra Desplat, Thomas Newman.

He has also performed alongside the most distinguished Flutists and Musicians such as Jim Walker, Andrea Griminelli, Cladio Barile and Nicola Mazzanti and taught at masterclasses  and workshops.

As a recording artist, his music can be heard on various movies, tv shows, video game soundtracks and albums. He has a collection of over 65 pieces of ethnic woodwind instruments that he uses in his soundtracks and recordings. His first classical album “Passion” for flute and piano was released by Albany Records and received Global Music Awards in 2017. His Flute Choir Arrangement for Smetana’s Moldau was published in Italy by Vigor Music in 2017.

Burak’s flute playing and compositions incorporate both rich and diverse styles, from orchestral to contemporary music and crosses many musical genres. He has composed music for many movies, documentaries and commercials appearing on Telemundo, Netflix, Amazon Prime and many others. He is collaborating with various artists and releasing albums in Celtic, Medieval, Meditation and many other genres that are streamed on major outlets like Spotify, Pandora and Youtube. Since 2021, Burak has been touring with the legendary Persian Singer Googoosh and her band as part of the 21WorldTour and Final Chapter World Tour giving concerts to immense crowds at the most distinguished concert halls in Europe, Middle East, America and Canada. (



Ela Gӧkçiğdem

Social Entrepreneur and Climate Activist

Ela Gokcigdem is a recent graduate from Babson College. After witnessing the environmental and economic collapse of her hometown in Turkey, she found a way to use business as a platform to advocate for sustainability. She is the founder of ePearl Technologies and won runner up at the NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2019, selling over 1,000 pairs. At ePearl Technologies, Ela coded and designed an innovative noise-cancellation technology of which the licensing was sold to one the world’s industry-leading sound-system corporation. From there she channeled her profits into her non-profit MyEcoEdu which provides high schoolers with a baseline environmental curriculum. These ventures have allowed her to be featured on NBC, ABC, The Washington Post, and internationally through the Voices of America Network.

She is an advocate for ocean-based climate solutions and has represented numerous organizations at various United Nations Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and conferences. Her latest venture, Bloom, is a clean-tech startup which specializes in small-scale algal mitigation systems for the coastal villages of Turkey. Bloom currently has a functional prototype is and spearheading research on a global scale regarding algal mucilage conversion and the connection with global biodiversity credits and blue (ocean) credits. Bloom has won first place at the Monaco Ocean Protection Challenge and awarded Ela as the “European Entrepreneur of the Year” at the 2023 Youth Start Entrepreneurship Competition. She serves as a member of Earth Echo International’s Youth Council and as the Director of Finance for the youth-led climate organization Zero Hour. Representing Turkey on the Sustainable Ocean Alliance’s Youth Policy Advisory Council, Ela seeks to elevate the voices of marginalized coastal communities on a large scale through business, economics, and advocacy.

Outside of school, Ela is a member of the Friends of Ocean Action and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science through her innovative work at Bloom. Ela also served as the vice-curator of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community Boston Hub from 2022-2023. Ela is seeking to further her education in Ocean Governance and has dedicated her career to environmental conservation.



Arda Keskin

Ankara University History Department Student

Arda Keskin was born in Ankara, Türkiye. After completing high school, he started his education in the History Department at Ankara University Faculty of Language, History, and Geography. His areas of interest include the differences in governance between the East and the West, Westernization, and evaluating events within the framework of constructivist theory in international relations.

During his student life, he served as a leader in student organizations for over a year and is a co-founder of The Intellectual, an academic platform that has since ceased publication.

Arda worked as an intern/assistant at the Foreign Policy Institute for one year, where he gained experience and skills in making presentations, following international developments using scientific methods, and teaching small groups. He is proficient in English and Ottoman Turkish and is also capable of using Office programs.



Yasemin Knott

Siena College Student

Yasemin Knott is a Junior Social Work major at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. She has been on the Dean’s List and the President’s List since attending Siena College. She is a Student Representative on the College  Work Advisory Board and Community Assistant.  Yasemin is a 2020 National Honor Society and a Spanish Honor Society Inductee.

Yasemin has been a Turkish Women’s League of America youth representative for the United Nations since January of 2023.

Past couple of years, Yasemin has been part of Assembly of Turkish American Associations’ United Nations Youth Forum and has been active participant in the ATAA UN programs and enjoys attending Annual ATAA Conferences. 

She was previously an officer of the Saratoga Springs High School Spanish Culture Club as well as the 2022 Siena College Muslim Student Association Events Coordinator.  She performed as the Saratoga Springs High School Varsity Competitive Cheerleader for 15 years and served as the Team Captain for multiple years. She achieved American Red Cross Certification in Childcare. Yasemin is learning Turkish, Spanish, and American Sign Language. She attended the Turkish Women’s League of America’s New York Ataturk School and earned a New York Seal of biliteracy in Spanish and English. While in high school, she earned college credits from Rochester Institute of Technology, Adirondack Community College, and Schenectady City Community College. Yasemin enjoyed volunteering at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School for 6 years.



Erol Taylan Lisesivdin

Middle East Technical University Student

Erol Taylan Lisesivdin was born in Ankara, Türkiye. He is an Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering student at Middle East Technical University (METU).

He works on aerodynamic designs and fluid dynamics calculations in projects carried out in collaboration between METU and Turkish Aerospace Industries Inc. (TAI).

In addition to this, he is currently engaged in interdisciplinary work on project engineering and systems engineering, collaborating with experts in various fields to develop his engineering perspective.



Berk Özsoy

Lebanon Trail High School Student

Berk Özsoy is a high-achieving student and dedicated athlete based in Frisco, Texas. He excelled academically at Bilkent Laboratory and International School, achieving top scores in national exams, and continues to maintain a perfect GPA at Lebanon Trail High School while taking advanced courses. In 2023, Berk completed an internship with White & Case Cakmak Group, where he gained hands-on experience in legal processes and earned strong references for his exceptional performance.

Beyond academics, Berk is an active member of his school’s basketball, football, and track teams and is pursuing a professional boxing license. Fluent in Turkish and English, with additional proficiency in Spanish, he also volunteers for various charitable activities, including earthquake relief and environmental conservation. Berk’s diverse skills and dedication make him a well-rounded and promising individual.



Alya Rana

Leesville Road High School Student

Alya was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 2006 and migrated to the US around 2013. She is an 11th grader in Leesville Road High School located in Raleigh NC, and is pursuing her education in filmmaking after graduation.

She is a member of National Honor Society, International Thespian Society, and is assistant technical director in the theater department of her high school.

She has also won student of the year for Adobe Visual and Video Design for the last two years, volunteering as a graphic designer for her school and ATA-NC.
From playing piano to opening an art gallery, she’s been focusing on releasing a graphic novel and having it published before 2025.

Her dream is to become a producer and a film director by using her stories and cross-cultural experiences.



Alev Wieland

ATAA UN Committee Co-Chair, ATAA President-Elect

Alev Wieland has Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Cincinnati, OH. Worked for Belcan Engineering at Proctor of Gamble as Project engineer for 7 years. Since she retired from PepsiCo, Inc-AMEA Capability Director in 2012, she formed Manufacturing Excellence Technical Services and Alev Cosmetics companies.

Alev has extensive experience in Lean Manufacturing, Lean Product Life Cycle Management, and Processes Development. Project Management, Construction Management in Food Manufacturing, Paper Converting and Laundry Soap Industry. She has solid understanding of Engineering, Manufacturing and Operations Processes. She is an expert in ISO 9001 and GMP Certifications and Standards.

She has been responsible for organizational communication, meetings management, documentation, web site management for Contemporary Education Foundation (COEDFO) since 2013. She served as President of Cincinnati Turkish American Association (CTAA) from 1994 to 1996.

An active member of the Turkish American Association of Northern Texas (TURANT), she has been providing organizational operations support to its elected board members and helping with executions of projects since 2000.  Alev serves as the First VP, Southwest Region Vice President, Chairs the Community Newsletter Committee and Co-Chair of UN Relations Committee of Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA).  Alev is very active at her local city and Main Street Organizations, provides support in an advisory capacity.



Dr. Selim Erhan

ATAA Trustee and ATAA UN Committee Member

Dr. Selim Erhan was born in Istanbul Turkey. After graduating with a chemical engineering degree from the University of Istanbul, he continued his studies at Western Michigan University with a Ph.D. in Polymer-Organic Chemistry. After teaching at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College and Lake Michigan College, he started a research career first at the USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL.  He continued his career in the private industry, working on application of bio-based products to industrial applications.

Dr. Erhan started actively working on introducing Turkey and the Turkish Culture in USA while studying at Western Michigan University in 1980. He joined the Turkish American Cultural Alliance in 2000 and became active in educational activities and in 2009. He was the co-founder of the highly successful TACA – Public Outreach Program, aiming at educating middle school, high school and university students on important issues.  The Public Outreach Organization brought speakers like Prof. Justin McCarthy, Prof. Turkkaya Ataov, Emre Kongar and Lincoln McCurdy. 

In 2013 he joined TACA’s Board of Directors and became the Director of the Ataturk School and the Adult Turkish School. Continued as the TACA Public Outreach Chair preparing seminars and conferences to reach out and enlighten the public in the Midwest region.

Dr. Erhan was elected as ATAA’s Midwest Region VP  2015 to 2019.  He has continued working at ATAA, helped to form the UN Committee and was instrumental to form the highly successful Turkish American Presidents Group under ATAA, improving communications with the Component Associations in USA and pulling in similar Turkish organizations from Canada. In 2022, he was elected to ATAA’s Board of Trustees.



Yücel Burdurlu–Tavolara

ATAA UN Committee Co-Chair and ATAA Midwest Region  Past VP

Yücel Burdurlu–Tavolara was born and raised in Istanbul Türkiye. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Hacettepe University Ankara Turkey, she continued her graduate studies at California State University Long Beach.

After graduating, she started a career in private industry working on applied and theoretical research on coatings and coating raw materials. Yucel worked for Imperial Chemical Industries formerly known as ICI Paints North America in their Strongsville Research Center most of her career in the international innovation team where she was involved variety of interesting projects in collaboration with their Slough Laboratory in Slough, England, ICI France in Rouge, France and ICI South America Research Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Next, Yucel worked for BUNGE Oils North America where, she worked with inorganic synthesis of anticorrosive pigments and tested them in collaboration with Batelle Laboratories in Columbus Ohio, University of Southern Mississippi and Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. 

Presently, Yucel is with True Value Manufacturing in Cary Illinois as a Research Chemist. Yucel lives in the suburbs of Chicago.  She joined TACA’s Board of Directors in 2013-2015 and she was the Director of the Ataturk School and the Adult Turkish School 2014-2015.

Yucel also has been a member of the Chicago Turkish Festival Planning Committee and a volunteer in the festival since 2013 and has served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Chicago Turkish festivals in 2016 and 2018. Yucel is planning to continue working on bringing Turkish and American groups together using her organization skills, people skills, education skills and her passion for harmony and peace.


For further inquiries, please e-mail, (Alev Wieland, Co-Chair & ATAA President-Elect)

Websites: | |