I am an American of Turkish descent, having grown up in Ohio and Pennsylvania in a family where it was normal to hear two languages spoken. My unusual name, Tijen Aybar, regularly invites a plethora of questions (origin, pronunciation, gender, etc.), which caused utter embarrassment in my youth. Thankfully, through the wisdom and experience of age, I have learned to embrace its uniqueness, to cherish my roots and, most importantly, to appreciate the sacrifices my parents made in order to provide me with opportunities that they didn’t imagine at the time.
My parents and teachers taught me to be a lifelong learner and to engage in my community. Here at the State Department, my community is a vast and supportive network of public diplomacy colleagues in Washington and Central Africa. We work together to develop and sustain outreach programs on a range of issues - including good governance and citizens’ participation in democracy; women’s economic empowerment; leadership and youth engagement; global health, food security; and English as a second language. To successfully coordinate and shape these programs, I have learned to lead from where I am; to be aware of and ahead of the curve on the changing situations in my community and around the world; and to be creative and entrepreneurial, while recognizing established frameworks and traditions.
Whether on a temporary overseas assignment to support program and logistical aspects of the Secretary’s visit to Africa or reaching out to administrators and students through State’s Hometown Diplomat’s program, I am committed to evolving and learning as a person and a professional, giving back, and mentoring others -- and enjoying what I do.
My favorite quote is by Abraham Lincoln - "You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was." I would add “no matter how tall your grandmother was”. While I am proud of my ‘tall” ancestors, I try to take Abraham Lincoln’s advice every day and encourage others to do so as well.