House of Turkey (HOT) Story and Why?

We often get asked what it means to be an immigrant and what it means to be a Turkish American… Each of us has a different answer. Some of us came here to study, some followed the call of love and some of us came here looking for a better life and better opportunities for our children. As an immigrant, our first goal was to adapt to our new country, learn the culture, speak the language as flawlessly as possible, and educate ourselves on the local traditions, holidays, do’s and don’ts.

First sizable Turkish immigrant groups started arriving in US between 1900 and 1920

As the time went by and we got more established, we had a yearning, a burning desire to teach, share, display the best of what we brought to this country like the many generations of immigrants before us from around the globe. After all we are all better off when we can express who we are, where we came from; our heritage. We are all better off when we can understand and accept one another with a little more insight into each other’s roots. We are richer when we learn a new dish or a new tradition from another culture. We wanted to make a bigger impact in the society we live in, specifically in the finest city in America, our home: San Diego.

In 2003, American Turkish Association Southern California (ATASC)San Diego Chapter asked the local Turkish-American community to express their priorities and expectations in order to serve them better. Launching a Turkish School and building the House of Turkey in Balboa Park were the top two requests. This was not entirely surprising! For Turkish Americans, accurate representation of our culture and educating the next generation so that they don’t forget their heritage are paramount principals along with becoming an essential part of the larger fabric of the American way of life!

House of Turkey Volunteers on the job!
House of Turkey Volunteers on the job!

With this in mind, the Turkish-American community of San Diego quickly set up a task force of volunteers in 2004 and established the organization called “House of Turkey” (HOT). After more than a year of hard work and much help from our active members, House of Turkey became an official member of the larger organization named “House of Pacific Relations (HPR) International Cottages”.  HPR is a consortium of ‘houses’ representing 33 countries in San Diego’s Balboa Park (21 out of these 33 countries have an actual structure in Balboa Park). The HPR promotes multicultural goodwill and understanding through educational and cultural programs, creating a small replica of the United Nations.int_cott

Here are some fascinating facts about our home base Balboa Park:

  • Balboa Park is the NUMBER ONE tourist attraction in San Diego. More than 12 MILLION tourists visit the park every year.
  • Balboa Park is the United States’ MOST HISTORICAL (100 years old) and THE LARGEST URBAN PARK with 15 major museums and renowned performing arts venues.
Volunteer Efforts at The December Nights Event
Volunteer Efforts at The December Nights Event

Over the past 10 years, House of Turkey grew into a well-functioning organization. More than 10,000 man-hours were volunteered to organize around 60 events to promote Turkish traditions and culture in San Diego. While we proudly and successfully represented our country by actively participating in all the annual special events we missed out on exposing the House of Turkey to all other park visitors for the rest of the year.

As our organization became more established, our needs increased and we came to a point where we needed to build our own permanent structure/cottage alongside the existing 21 cottages in Balboa Park. This was our goal from the very beginning. We have been collaborating with eight other countries that share the same desire to build new cottages (Project Milestones). Our physical presence in this multicultural environment and displaying our flag throughout the year is our mission.

This is truly an amazing and a unique opportunity to have a PERMANENT HOUSE to promote Turkish culture, traditions and its people. There is no other park in the United States that houses permanent international structures for cultural representation. The Turkish Cottage will be the base where we can display our unique culture and represent our country in an internationally well-recognized and multicultural arena.  We want this house to be not only our home away from home but also a gateway to expose many others to the Turkish way of life. We want everyone to enjoy the exquisite arts and crafts, drink our Turkish tea and feel the warmth of our people. We have received nothing but positive feedback and encouragement from many of the park visitors during the various events we participated in throughout the years. Volunteers and Board members of House of Turkey have been diligently working to execute against the many milestones to date, acquire the necessary permits and raise the required funds to build our cottage.


We need to raise an additional $200K before December 2015 to start the construction of our permanent house!

This is a “ONCE IN A LIFETIME’ opportunity considering the fact that only 21 houses were built within the last 80 years at Balboa Park.

NOW is the time for the final push and to take these efforts to the finish line and build the House of Turkey together!

Show your support TODAY and donate here to the Cottage Project for the House of Turkey!!!

Again, your support will make a tremendous difference in creating the permanent structure to represent our cultural diversity, richness and unity for future generations of Turkish-Americans living in the United States.