Monday, November 14, 2005

Six months later...

Can it really be? Jan pointed out in an email to our team last weekend that it's been six months since our trip.

Six months ago today, I was eating pistachio-covered ice cream with Firuz and Duthan Harbiyeli (left) in Antakya after the Rotary Kulubu meeting, and after receiving valuable tennis tutoring from Firuz!

The Harbiyelis' son, Ibrahim Inan, is one of the Turks with whom I've corresponded since the trip. Inan was away at Mersin University during our trip, but Firuz and Duthan showed him the blog, and he emailed me to say "hello from Antioch".

Ilhan Karaselcuk and I have chatted a few times on instant messenger. His web cam showed Mersin's summertime sunset visible through the Karaselcuklar office window. Ilhan said that his wife Nilufer had visited her sister in Tunisia, and that a few weeks later, Nilufer's sister visited Mersin. The Karaselcuks are at right.

Thanks to instant messenger, Merve Gokben and I have also kept in touch. She's a student in International Relations at Ankara's Middle East Technical University. Merve joined us for Sunday brunch in Konya. Today she told me about her midterm paper for METU.

The midterm topic was idealism and liberalism, and Merve wrote a play about post-Cold War politics called "God is confused". Baffled by events following the Cold War, God starts to question political actors. In the end, he decides not to interfere with worldly issues, and lets mortals determine their own fates. God instead opts to think about heavenly issues, which as Merve (at left) explained, are more entertaining. What a great concept for a paper!

Today I also learned that Konya is also the home to the inventor of, a social networking community from Google. The website's founder, Orkut Buyukkokten, is from Konya and is also a graduate of Bilkent University in Ankara (which we visited on our last day in Ankara).

Since our return to Denver, my teammates and I have remained close, meeting up once a month or so. In July, I hosted a Turkish themed party, and a month later we gathered for Bethany's birthday (mutlu yillar Betty!). Steve and Juliet hosted a party in September, and in October Lisa invited us to a night of salsa dancing to raise funds for
Intercambio de Comunidades, a non-profit whose goal is to increase opportunities and independence for Latino immigrants.

The evening of salsa dancing evoked memories of our last stop in Ankara, when we salsa danced at the Ankara Hilton (at right).

As we approach Thanksgiving next week and give thanks for what the year has brought (and yes, enjoy the other turkey, the poultry), I'm most thankful to the kind people of Turkey and to my teammates for an experience that has forever changed me. Tesekkurlar!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Antakya on History Channel

The History Channel's series "The Crusades: Crescent & the Cross" begins this week. The first episode features Antioch, and includes video of the church we saw in Antakya, overlooking the city.