“I am curious about people, how cultures differ and ways we all unite. That’s why I love travelling.  Everytime I travel I see the world with new lenses, from different perspectives. Once I leave my comfort zone, I realize that there are so many different ways of doing the right thing. 

Meltem is an experienced social entrepreneur living in Montreal, Canada. Originally she is from Turkey, born and raised in Istanbul. She started her studies at Marmara University and continued her studies as an exchange student at Fachhochschule Bielefeld University in Germany. She graduated from the University of Manitoba – Asper School of Business in Canada. She is experienced in international business and entrepreneurship. Since June 2020 Meltem has also been an active member of MBBI, recently taking a position of Membership Engagement Team Leader. 

“I love new ideas and perspectives. I am excited to be in environments where creative ideas are explored, and changes are welcomed. I believe this is where I help impact organizations and social entrepreneurs to utilize their gifts and bring their visions to life.  ”

An exchange that started it all

I came to Canada as an exchange student, ended up getting married, and stayed in Canada.” By taking part in exchange programs and finally coming to Canada, Meltem discovered the richness of multiculturalism. Through traveling, studying, and experiencing other cultures she experienced the world from completely new perspectives, by getting out of her comfort zone,  she became more open-minded and discovered new opportunities. Meltem tells I did not abandon, nor lose my culture. By opening my heart, I welcomed all others in. I appreciate the diversity and richness of human experiences. 

I learned to be very resilient through welcoming cultural differences instead of resisting them.” It is a worthy area to explore for everyone interested in conflict resolution. 

Unexpected inspiration

As Meltem says, her call for peace came very suddenly during a trip to Israel. “I respect all religions, for me the teachers are different but the essence is the same. While walking around Jerusalem, I realized regardless which religion people belong to, praying in their own language, all they wanted was to be heard. I think it’s our human nature that we want to be heard. We want to be acknowledged.” She further says that this experience allowed her to understand that compassion can help all of us to hear each other out. When people are heard, we can start building peace. 

Through practicing meditation, Meltem asked herself a lot of questions about the meaning of life and how she can enrich the collective experience. Her approach to conflict also changed through conflict resolution and mediation studies. As she says “I did not realize that my relationship with conflict was not very positive either. I wanted to avoid conflict. Today I see conflict as an opportunity to make things better” She believes our attitude towards conflict makes a big difference. The same goes with the idea of peace, what it means can be completely different for people, organizations, societies, and cultures. What does peace mean to you? What is your relationship with conflict? She is curious about these questions. “My overarching commitment to myself and others is to expand our humanity and civility through ideas and dialogues. ” 

Discovering MBBI

When it comes to her journey to become part of MBBI, it started right after the meaningful trip to Israel. “I wanted to be a member of MBBI because of their vision, the way that they equip local communities with skillsets spoke to me.”

For a year now, Meltem is an active member of MBBI, MBB Canada, and the Membership Engagement Team, which provided her with growth both on a professional and personal level. She is still looking for alternative approaches to peace and combining her entrepreneurial background with conflict resolution. “At MBBI, I am a team player, strategist bringing lots of new ideas. I love networking, building relationships, and moving MBBI’s mission forward”.

There are two final pieces of advice that Meltem wants to share with everyone. The first is that everything that is not pleasant will pass. Second, everything that is amazing and nice will also pass. “Two sides of a coin: This too shall pass and It won’t last forever. It is a gift to enjoy life and be in the moment.”

Article by Maciej Witek, MBBI Writer