“As I return from a marvelous week in Tuscany, it is impossible not to reflect on what made this trip so special. And it was not only the beautiful sites we visited, the delicious food that we tasted or the great wine that we drank. Those were amazing, of course, but what made it even more unique and special was the composition of friends, the gift of a trip abroad and the history that we had in common.”Dominique Kliger, adjunct faculty, Fox School of Business, Fall 2019
According to Dr. Kliger, when you sign up for a college experience, it’s impossible to conceive of all the benefits you’ll receive in addition to what you’ll learn in the classroom. It isn’t until graduation—or sometimes years later—that you look back and appreciate your time at the Fox School. For Dominique Kliger, adjunct faculty member at the Fox School and director of Online Graduate Programs at the College of Science and Technology, it took a Tuscan reunion in the summer of 2019 with her peers to remind her of how important it is to build connections in every stage of your life.
Originally from Brazil, Kliger came to Temple University to pursue a graduate degree in communications. Like many international students who earn an education abroad, Kliger needed to cultivate a support system—and she looked to her college experience for help.
“(Your program) offers you so many opportunities to connect with others, learn from their cultural backgrounds and create wonderful memories,” says Kliger about making the friends whom she would travel to Tuscany 30 years later.
So how did a decades-long friendship get its start? When Kliger first arrived in Philadelphia, she took to building connections from the start—first befriending her roommate Selcan Kaynak, who connected her with another student Nese Gundogan, who then connected her with Jayant Goyle, who was pursuing his MBA from the Fox School, and so on.
As the web of friends grew, so did their appreciation for the little things that friendships generate. Gundogan, an alumna of the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, who currently serves as the Secretary General of the Turkish Olympic Committee, says about their group, “As the Turkish proverb goes, ‘For love-united hearts, a hayloft is a promenade.’”
While the group of friends met throughout the years for their fair share of celebrations and held late-night phone calls across different time zones, the ultimate “promenade” came about in Tuscany when Goyle and his partner offered to sponsor a trip for the group to a scenic Tuscan village for the summer of 2019. They planned the trip 365 days in advance, and as the days grew nearer, so did Kliger’s excitement and gratitude. “Regardless of how my days would go, at any moment I could visualize the trip in my mind and spontaneously bring a smile to my face,” she reveals.
Once in Tuscany, the friends explored the breathtaking scenery, ate decadent Italian dishes and watched the sunset at the end of every day. During one of Kliger’s favorite moments, she spoke of gathering together in the kitchen over a traditional Turkish breakfast dish. The friends shared memories from the past three decades at a large table with fresh-cut flowers from the villa as the centerpiece.
“When faced with all the options in Tuscany, just being together is the option I’d choose time after time,” says Kliger. The appreciation of having a shared history and network, thanks in part to the strong Temple community, is something Kliger reflects on and promotes to her students.
Both Kliger and Gundogan also echoed the sentiment of thankfulness, not only because their good friend Goyle’s donation, but also because their friendship has withstood the test of time.
The concept of friendship is relatively simple, but that does not mean that the bond itself is always easy to sustain. Kliger credits her lasting friendships with being open to differences and embracing those differences—whether they’re in perspectives, views, or nationalities. Kliger’s unique composition of friends has enhanced her journey, both personally and professionally.
While there is no way to imagine all the possibilities that a Fox School education will afford you, Kliger’s experience shows that being open to building connections is never a bad thing—and maybe one day can be your ticket to a once-in-a-lifetime trip.