An Arizona legislator's trip abroad next month is designed to strengthen cultural bonds that may help the lawmaker better represent the diverse base of residents living in the Yuma area.
District 24 Rep. Theresa Ulmer, D-Yuma, will leave for Istanbul, Turkey, on Aug. 4 for a 10-day tour to broaden her understanding of the Islamic world and also to better represent the Muslims who live in her district, she explained.
The tour will include stops in eastern and southern Turkish cities of Izmir, Antalya and Konya. Pacifica Institute and the Foundation for Inter-Cultural Dialogue, the two Tempe nonprofit organizations that are sponsoring the journey, invited Ulmer.
Accompanying Ulmer will be a dozen of others, including several from Phoenix, a TV news reporter from Tucson and Christian clergymen from California.
"I've always said it's a good idea to bridge different cultures to create better understanding," Ulmer said.
Ulmer noted there is a fairly large constituency of Islamic residents in Yuma. On June 28, she was invited by the Council on American Islamic Relations Arizona office along with the Islamic Cultural Center to their new mosque on 24th Street.
According to a previous article in The Sun, one of the center's missions was to exchange ideas with people of different faiths.
"It was a group of 50, just a meet-and-greet get together," Ulmer said. "They asked about education items in the state budget and about tort reforms. But the primary concern was how to bridge the gap between different nationalities and religion."
She went on that it was important for Muslim Americans to engage in the political process and encouraged her hosts to participate in community service, civic boards or in whatever capacity they are capable. (MORE)