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Although this blog is addressed to my daughter, anyone who is interested is cordially invited to skim, scan, or intensively read the content herein. Peace and blessings to all.
Iyi Aksamlar, (Good Evening)
I was going to call this post “The Kindness of Strangers” but, really, it’s hard to meet a stranger in Turkey. During my first full week in Ankara, I made several new friends and met a couple of angels. I will post some of their pictures and stories here.
Ali and Family
A few days after I arrived, my landlord, Ali, invited to to go with him to the Ataturk Mausoleum and Museum. Ali and his lovely daughter, Jada, came to pick me up after Jada’s piano lesson. Then we drove to their home so I could meet the rest of the family. Ali’s wife, Mahi, greeted me with the tradition kiss on each cheek and I immediately felt welcome.
Jada (eleven), Me, Mahi, and Melda (four)
The museum was impressive. I especially liked the life-size dioramas of World War I Battle scenes with a realistic sound track and many authentic items that were used by Turkish soldiers. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum but I’ll include a few from the courtyard and mausoleum.
In front of the Ataturk Mausoleum. Kemal Ataturk was a general turned statesman who led the fight to keep Turkey united following World War I. He instituted many reforms after he was elected president and is viewed as the father of modern Turkey.
A ceremonial honor guard made up of all branches of the military keeps watch over the mausoleum.
Ali is standing in front of the above-ground portion of Ataturk’s tomb.
Can I count him as a new friend? Mmmm . . . maybe not. Although I certainly admired his ability to stay focused.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures of my new friends at Ankara University, Faculty of Communication, School of Journalism. As I get more, I’ll post them here.
This is Arezou, my office mate and the teacher who graciously took over my classes during the two months that I was waiting for my work visa. Arezou is from Iran and before starting at Ankara University, she was an interpreter for the United Nations.
John, on the left, is a former ELF who decided to stay on in Ankara for a while. George (right) is originally from England. He is the librarian at the Turkish American Association’s English library. We had a lovely chat and George helped me figure out the bus routes. I hope to return to the TAA to take Turkish classes.
I fell in love with this little dog because she reminded me of Juno. She was not impressed with the tall, blond lady who talked funny. Check out the expression.
No surprise to you, Lili, or anyone who knows me, finding my way around has been one of my biggest challenges since I arrived in Ankara. I have to take two buses to get to the university and since I don’t speak Turkish, I can’t really ask for directions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank two gentlemen who assisted me.
On the day I was scheduled to observe my Academic English class, I decided take a taxi to make sure I got there on time. I got out my city map and showed the taxi driver the Ankara University campus, which I’d highlighted in blue. When we reached our destination, I noticed the buildings didn’t look familiar but I thought maybe the driver had just let me off at a different entrance. It wasn’t until I saw the life-size statue of a cow that I realized something had gone horribly wrong.
I went to the administration building in search of someone who spoke English. The security guard escorted me to the office of Prof. Dr. Ergun Akcay, the vice dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. After I explained my dilemma, Ergun asked his secretary to call me a taxi. While we waited for the cab, we had a glass of tea and I learned some interesting facts about College of Veterinary Medicine. For example, did you know that there are approximately 1,000 students enrolled there and half of those hope to specialize in small animal care? When the taxi arrived Ergun escorted me outside and gave the driver instructions to take me to the correct campus.
If you read this, Ergun: Cok tesekur ederim!
First week in town, again. I walked through construction dust and noise to a bus stop on Ataturk Avenue, where I knew I could catch a bus to KIzIlay. I had my fare ready but every bus that stopped was a city bus, for which you need a bus pass. Finally, I boarded a bus and held up my two lira. “Okay?” I asked.
A kind gentleman sitting two seats back jumped up and handed me his bus pass. I took the empty seat next to him and found out that he spoke English. He told me he had been a colonel in the Turkish army and had served as a military attache at several embassies. He made sure I got off at the right stop and showed me a snack kiosk which also sold bus passes. Then he walked me to the corner where I could catch the second bus to the university. Thanks so much, Kenan Unal, for taking the time to help a newcomer to your city. May Allah bless you.
Andrea Schindler, left, is fairly new to Ankara, too. She was assigned as the Regional English Language Officer at the American embassy in Ankara this summer. Aycan, right, is the Regional English Language Programs Director. It looks like they had a festive Halloween!
Okay, honey, I’m late posting this week so will hit the publish button pronto. It’s getting cold here and I’m sure it will be even colder when you visit in January.
Dress warm and make good choices!