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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior travels to Turkey to improve rural access to education

MAST Academy senior Utku Günay spends part of summer in Kuşçu Mahallesi.
MAST Academy senior Utku Günay poses with students in a school in rural Turkey. Photo courtesy Utku Günay.
MAST Academy senior Utku Günay poses with students in a school in rural Turkey. Photo courtesy Utku Günay.

The Turkish Youth Awareness Association works to erase inequality in education opportunities in rural Turkey. The unlikely philanthropist behind it is founder and MAST Academy senior, Utku Günay. 

“I started it because I saw the disparity, the difference in education, the materials they lacked,” Günay said. “I compared it to here and I thought I should do something about it.”

Günay felt a sense of responsibility and the motivation to take action to do what he could to help. In June 2022, Günay went to visit rural schools in Turkey to refurbish and modernize them. The Turkish Youth Awareness Association has raised more than $5,000 since March 2022. 

With these donations, Günay was able to purchase books, computers, WiFi connection, and other personal educational items for the students in schools in rural areas of Turkey. He was even able to build and supply a library for the school.

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“We reached our goal of building a library,” Günay said. “We bought them projections for every class and computers for every class.”

MAST Academy senior Utku Günay paints a wall inside a school in Kuşçu Mahallesi, Turkey. Photo courtesy Utku Günay.

He explained that not having access to computers not only limited the children’s ability to be educated but also their access to the world. He added that these improvements have given them hope. The students now have dreams and have realized that they can dream big and become someone they never thought they could be.

“I wanted to open their perspectives, prepare them for the future and modernize their perspectives a little.” Günay shared. 

The Turkish Youth Awareness Association worked with two schools over the summer of 2022 and left quite the impact on them.

“Thanks to Mr. Günay and his charity, we have everything we ever dreamed of and beyond now.” Zeynep Hanim said in an e-mail to The Beacon. Hanim is a Turkish teacher that works for one of the schools aided by the Turkish Youth Awareness Association. She explained there is a big difference in the quality of the education that the children receive. 

“They are very happy and they accept Utku as their honorary brother and their idol and role model,” Hanim added. “We would like to thank [Utku] once again on our entire village’s behalf.”

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About the Contributor
Kamilah Gurdián
Kamilah Gurdián, Editor in Chief
Kamilah Gurdián is a senior at MAST Academy. As of 2023, she is starting her third year as a student at MAST at the age of 17. She used to attend iPrep Academy North during her freshmen year, but wanted to attend MAST since she was in Grade 5. Along with her, her younger brother who’s in Grade 7 attends MAST as well. She a first-generation immigrant in America and her mom is from Colombia and her dad is from Nicaragua. She is interested in math as a future career and takes multiple math classes.
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