20 Champions: Linda Chang and Emin Maltepe

Linda Chang and Emin Maltepe are longtime champions of youth and family programming at Golden Thread. Emin has served on the Board of Trustees for two terms and both, along with their daughter Tulin continue to be among our staunchest supporters. We are excited to recognize them as one of our 20 champions.

What was your first experience with Golden Thread and when? Tulin’s first experience with Golden Thread was at a Fairytale Players performance of The Girl Who Lost Her Smile at a library. She and her friend Leila were only three years old. They loved how interactive and dynamic the performance was. The Global Passport making activity and spontaneous inclusion into the performance were fantastic features of the entire experience. Very resonant for our children, who are genuine global citizens with their hybrid cultural backgrounds.

Why do you need Golden Thread? At 10 years of age, our daughter is waking up to Hate. In particular, she is waking up to the senseless hatred toward Arabs and Muslims, and any others associated with something called “The Middle East.” An irresponsible public bus placard and another school lockdown drill after a terrorist bombing in Paris later, and she has cried twice this year, her 10th year of life, in the face of blatantly expressed hatred toward someone who is Arab or Muslim. And while she is neither Arab nor Muslim, she remains proud of her Turkish, secular Muslim heritage, while completely baffled by this new discovery of Hate.

Why? In reality, we have had the privilege of raising her with Golden Thread. She has had the good fortune of a reality that is filled with first-hand authentic knowledge, love, wonder and respect for this myriad of cultures and subcultures that can be found in the Middle East. Through humor, colorful, playful costumes and props, and dynamic storytelling, our child has traveled to wondrous, far off lands for a childishly sweet, innocent mission to restore a smile to a princess who lost hers. She has laughed at the silliness of an old but wise fool on a donkey whose adventures reveal common human foibles. She has heard the utterances of the multiple languages of the region integrated into public performances, engendering a sense of pride — “Hey, I know what that means!” — when she hears Turkish or she sees the beaming pride of her best friend hearing Persian in a public setting that is shared amongst so many strangers.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of this work and how deeply needed it is. We can only hope more people can engage. We know the world will be a better, more peaceful and more joyful place for it.

What was your strangest, oddest, funniest Golden Thread experience? There have been so many funny moments in the Golden Thread plays…and so many captivatingly “strange” but wondrous ones… One that comes to mind is the fashion show scene in The Fifth String. We laughed so hard, we were all crying. The use of modern-day fashion show pomposity and rap to convey the range of cultural production happening in 9th Century Muslim Spain was fantastic.

Describe Golden Thread in 20 words (no cheating) Eclectic. Musical. Imaginative. Fun. Hilarious. Social. Political. Thoughtful. Provocative. Antidote. Stimulating. Educational. Creative. Mysterious. Original. Awesome. Poetic. Visionary. Ingenious. Fantastic.

Read the rest of our “20 Champions for 20 Years” blog series!

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