I did not know much about Turkey before my trip. I knew it was nation rich with history, was a majority Muslim nation that was an important ally of the United States and that it was the home of the Roman Empire for a time.
The most exciting part of the trip was seeing first hand the incredible history of Turkey. Touring ancient churches and mosques along with historic relics of the Ottoman Empire is something I will remember for the rest of my life.
The part of the trip that affected me most was seeing how Turkey is a modern, secular nation tolerant of others and a vital ally of the U.S. The Turkish people were also incredibly moving to me, as they were extraordinarily generous and warm.
My greatest surprise on the trip was learning how modern Turkey is and what a strong, vibrant economy it has. I found Turks and Turkish culture to be extraordinarily generous and the culture very rich. Turks are a proud people who have good reason to be. The trip did influence how I view religion and proved that a nation such as Turkey can fully embrace Islam, yet be modern and tolerant of Christians and Jews.
My opinion of the Rumi Forum and the Fethullah Gulen movement was positive, it appears clear that the mission of the movement is to educate people of all religions and ethnicities about one another in order to prevent ignorance and breed greater understanding.