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Emre has taken his Masters to the world (and the White House)

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Education
Emre smiling in front of a view of the White House

As a Muslim Australian, Emre Celik has spent his career working to increase understanding, acceptance and celebration of his culture, not only in Australia but across the world. It all started with a Master of Teaching from CDU.

After completing his initial teaching studies in Sydney, Emre decided to further his knowledge by undertaking postgraduate study. He chose a Master of Teaching with CDU.

I saw CDU was a reputable institution that had flexible teaching arrangements and provided me with a flexible schedule off-campus.

Emre smiling in front of a view of the Washington Monument

The youth are our future

As Emre’s experience in the classroom increased, the enthusiasm of youth rubbed off on him.

"Many people say that the 'youth are our future.’ That is important but young people also have a great deal of passion, energy and drive," he says.

That [youthful energy] motivated me to do more for the communities that I was a part of.

Through the Masters of Teaching, Emre was exposed to extensive theory and innovative practical approaches to engaging and teaching children. This experience set him on a path he never expected to be on.

Teacher and change-maker

"I initially became a teacher, but fate works in mysterious ways and I was fortunate to have learnt many things both from my students and peers. I ended up teaching religious studies and then interfaith studies which I enjoyed very much," he says.

This helped me to springboard into the new area of interfaith dialogue activism which I am involved in now.

With his new-found knowledge and practical skills, Emre set about changing things in his community. Emre was the founding member of the Muslim Students Association and brought a number of cultural activities to parliaments and public service organisations across Australia. Emre was recognised for his contribution to bridging the gap between police and Melbourne’s faith communities.

Emre meeting Barak Obama

With those experiences under his belt and with his skills in engaging young people, Emre started two important projects to bring Jewish and Muslim communities together.

The first was 'Building Bridges' that brought together 15 Jewish and 15 Muslims families through a year of engagement and dialogue in each other’s homes. As a result of the success of this first project, the 'Embracing Youth' project was created to bring Jewish and Muslim university youth groups together.

Emre smiling with Bill Clinton

Since then, Emre has taken his influence to Washington DC and to New York. During his more than 10 years in the United States, Emre was the organiser of the first ever Eid ul Adha celebration in the White House, was a member of the FBI’s Arab Muslim Sikh Advisory Committee, and as President of the Rumi Forum, he has overseen diversity and inclusion projects in Washington DC and been interviewed by major media outlets across the world.

I am always looking for unique ways to bring people together and engage. I want to keep helping people overcome the concept of the ‘other’ and increase social cohesion and acceptance between distant communities.

In his new role at the Peace Islands Institute New York, and as an Interfaith Civic Leadership Academy Fellow, Emre’s early days at CDU engaging with young people to educate and inspire them are never far from his mind.

The youth played an important role for me in my career. Hopefully, through my work, I have been able to reciprocate.

Emre smiling inside a room of the White House

 

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