Endangered“(2008) by J.U.C. and Frank Ali was screened.
“Definition of the Awards: each category, $500 will be awarded for the winner of the 1st Place. 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive a trophy, plaque or certificate as well as recognition as a contributing author to a book which will be the culmination of all submissions in that given year to be printed within 2 years following the date of the Award Ceremony.”
In a nutshell, the J.U.C. M-R-W-A will be offered in 3 main categories:
1. Media 2. Research 3. Writings
By Dr. Aslihan CAKMAK, Representative of The Light Millennium to the
United Nations Department of Global Communications

[Lightmillennium.Org & TurkishLibrary.Us] On January 29, 2020, The Light Millennium family, guests, and friends came together to honor the very short-lived life of John Unver Culkin (J.U.C.), beloved son of Bircan Ünver, Founder-President of The Light Millennium, Inc J.U.C. left Earth suddenly on December 22, 2019. Following a touching ceremony among close friends and family, JUC was rest in peace on his birthday, January 7th, 2020.

While going through this unimaginable pain, Bircan Ünver was determined to find a way to immortalize J.U.C.  The idea came to her while she was on a plane near 15 hours to see her son one last time: the best way to keep J.U.C.’s legacy is to have him live through other people’s lives who will be awarded an accolade and a potential scholarship dedicated to his name! Bircan Ünver stated “I must transform this devastating pain and sadness so that I can hold on to life.”

After a short period of preparation, the “J.U.C. Media, Research, and Writing Awards and Scholarship” was introduced to public on January 29, 2020. Organized by The Light Millennium, Inc. – A Charitable Global Human Advancement Organization (LM), co-sponsored by Namik Ünver, beloved uncle of J.U.C and Fatos Erol, this special gathering “In Loving Memory of J.U.C.” took place at Sunlight Studio in the heart of Manhattan. Barış Ünver, Figen Bingül, Julie Mardin, Ashraf Ali, Ali Sarıkaya, Mine Takıl volunteered their services to make this event memorable in multiple capacities. Close to 50 people attended and celebrated the life of J.U.C as we launched the “J.U.C. Media, Research, and Writing Awards and Scholarship”

Program started with an opening performance by renowned Turkish pianist Dr. Ayşegül Durakoğlu who played “Funeral March” by Chopin along with “Für Elise” by Beethoven in honor of J.U.C. Dr. Durakoğlu’s performance once again reminded us that music might help us find solace while we experience emotional pain.

Following Dr. Durakoğlu’s performance, Bircan Ünver welcomed guests in attendance and thanked them for supporting her and her family for this tragic loss. Her strength and demeanor during the entire event left all of us admiring her.

Prior to the listening the presenters in the program, J.U.C. and Frank Ali’s jointly produced video titled, “Endangered” (2.5 min.) during their 5th Grade at P.S. 56, was screened. Following, Bircan explained that this short-video was entered in 2008 to the NBC Universal Digital Media Competition, which brought in to the both “First Place” Media Awards in Science, which was presented by the NBC’s “ThinkQuest” Media Awards in 2008.

Program continued with presentations of short pieces from J.U.C.’s creations and anecdotes about him. Efehan Berk Hüyük, 12 year-old young student from NY Ataturk School (weekend/Turkish School) read the poem “Mr. Virus” which J.U.C. had written when he was 4 years-old. Considering what most 4 year-olds can or cannot do, we were all convinced that J.U.C. was a gifted child, thinking beyond his years!

In the second section of the program, Bircan Ünver and LM’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, İrem Ünal jointly introduced the J.U.C. MEDIA, RESEARCH and WRITING AWARDS with potential SCHOLARSHIP project. Bircan introduced her concept, in which, she has referred to a hand-out called, “J.U.C. M-R-W-A Story” < http://www.turkishlibrary.us/j-u-c-m-r-w-a-story/>.

Following the Concept Note, our presenters introduced the Definition, Timeline, Guideline, and the potential SCHOLARSHIP component of this Award with a special Book Project. In a nutshell, the J.U.C. M-R-W-A will be offered in 3 main categories:

1. Media 2. Research 3. Writings
 Timeline is as follows:
1. Submission Deadline: June 30, 2020 via email to JUC-Awards@lightmillennium.org .
2. Submissions will be publicly posted by September 7, 2020.
3. Announcing finalists in October 2020.
4. Awards ceremony during the fourth week of January 2021.
Definition of the Awards:

In each category, $500 will be awarded for the winner of the 1st Place. 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive a trophy, plaque or certificate as well as recognition as a contributing author to a book which will be the culmination of all submissions in that given year to be printed within 2 years following the date of the Award Ceremony. For the full text of the Introduction of the project please visit: http://www.turkishlibrary.us/j-u-c-media-research-and-writing-and-potential-scholarship/

Further, Bircan Ünver revealed our intention to offer scholarships in addition to the awards.
To initiate the awards and the scholarship, the Organization will form a “Committee for the J.U.C. Awards & Scholarship” based on the amended, broadened, and approved 2019 Purposes by the State Department of New York. This Committee will be working under the Board of Directors of the Organization.

In its current proposed state, this scholarship will be offered in developing countries, starting with Turkey, preferably but not limited to female students who completed their 4th year at their elementary schools. This scholarship aims to retain targeted student group and encourage them to further their education.

At the end of the evening, the project was well-received. Positive support was reflected in the donations the Organizationreceived since J.U.C.’s “Farewell” on December 30, 2019 as well as following the launch event on January 29th, 2020. 

In addition to the people on the program, there were a few surprises which would have made J.U.C. very happy if he were to attend this special gathering. His academic advisors from LaGuardia Community College were among the guests. One advisor, Ms. Nebiyat Woldemichael talked about her work with J.U.C. while Mr. Luis Ortiz, Representative from the Student Government Association shared his memories with his fellow schoolmate, J.U.C. It sure was emotional to witness a part of his life that we were not familiar with.

He was loved and he will be missed by his academic peers and advisors. Another surprise was Miss Anna Evseev, who was a childhood friend of J.U.C. and talked about J.U.C.’s natural talent to lead people without even asking them. She shared a few memories, in particular, from the Forest Park, as she put it, “J.U.C. used the park as his Kingdom, and never seen anyone creative play-game design as he was,” which was a fitting description of J.U.C.

Final and the third part of the event was “The connection between the above two items with The Light Millennium’s Mission & Latest News.” In this section, Bircan reflected back on both the evolving idea of The Light Millennium along with J.U.C. as inspiration even he was only a baby, sitting on her mom’s lap, watching her work for hours. Even at the early ages of 3 or 4, J.U.C. served as an advisor to his mom on how to improve the website of the Organization. Bircan remembered how 7 year-old J.U.C. offered emotional support when she had difficulty with her computer; he would say “Hope Never Fades” which became a motto for his mother and has been on the banner of the 14th issue of the Lightmillennium.Org since 2004. She stated that J.U.C. has been the cement of the Organization. His work can be viewed on the Organization’s website.

Before the closing remarks, Bircan also shared that as of December 17, 2019, the Organization’s PURPOSES were amended and broadened, which now enables The Light Millennium to develop and implement service based and educational programs such as the J.U.C. M-R-W-A and its potential SCHOLARSHIP, which will require collaboration and partnerships with our supporters, businesses, schools, and families. As a summary, the latest legal changes in the Organization’s PURPOSES also, as if it is destiny, connected what became Bircan’s new mission as a mother who lost her son: J.U.C. Since its inception in 1999, she has considered her Organization as her 3rd child. With strong determination and emotion, now Bircan aims to merge Light Millennium’s concept and vision with J.U.C.’s ideas and vision with the intention of providing others a platform and opportunities to flourish in years to come.

In closing, Bircan thanked to all the presenters, volunteers and the contributors of this unique and touching program, along with the following names for their attendance and support in her most difficult times:
Deputy Consul General of New York Ms. Gizem Emel, LaGuardia Community College, A.S.A.P. Program members Nebyat Woldemichael (Advisor), Ramon De Los Santos (Dean), Matthew Eckhoff (Director), Alexa Duque (Assoiate Director), Aura Paulino (Associate Director), Charis Victory (Interim Associate Director), Luis Ortiz (Representative, The Student Government Association), New York Ataturk School principal Tülay Tashkent, and teachers  Ayşeli Turgut, Nuran Küçür, board members of the Turkish Women League of America Berna Gürdal, Ilknur Hüyük, and her elder son Barış Ünver  for their contributions and making this event and her vision for her son possible. In addition to the presenters and volunteers, she also acknowledged Sevgin Oktay, LM’s UN-NGO Rep.,  and his wife Betty Oktay, board member Müjgan Hedges and along with others.

Please follow us on Social Media and on our Website for the recent developments and upcoming events for this award and scholarship initiative (#JUCAwards #JUCMRWA #lightmillennium #turkishlibrarymuseum). We need your support and guidance as we venture through this unpaved road.

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Photo by: Bircan Ünver, 2008.

Below photos by

List of received donations is in the page# 15 of the Booklet.

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"The U.S. Turkish Library & Museum For Friendship and Peace" project joined, and has been produced under the umbrealla of The Light Millennium Organization effective on October 15, 2015.