Wow! What an awesome experience this project has been. Your thoughtful comments and questions made my trip so much more meaningful; I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to share my travels and a little bit of knowledge with you.
I had been anticipating this final celebration for months. My good friend and roommate Ray and I left at the terrible hour of 8:00 for ACCESS Academy. Traffic on 39th and a bunch of deceptive non-entrances to your school made us a few minutes late, so sorry about that! After a friendly escort from the main office, I was greeted with a shockingly exuberant welcome in your classroom. Applause and the Turkish music Ms. Kelly cleverly chose to put on dissolved all my nervousness and made me feel right at home.
It was so much fun to have you all introduce yourselves so I could put faces to all the names. In retrospect, I think I should’ve avoided having you say what your favorite breakfast was, since doing so brought up the contentious issue bacon yet again. But it also reinforced something that I’ve admired about you this whole time: your mature level of comfort with differences and disagreements – that attitude will take you very far!
After you all introduced yourselves, I asked a few trivia questions in exchange for lokum (Turkish delight). Although I’m a little bummed you forgot the founder of Turkey’s name, I’m impressed that – Liam, right? – knew what year the Republic of Turkey was founded. Aferin sana!
To go with the lokum, we prepared you some çay (Turkish tea). Did I tell you that Turks drink more tea than anyone else in the world? I can believe it. I drank anywhere from 5-15 cups of it a day. Drinking it with you all for the first time in months sent me on a trip down memory lane.
While we drank çay and hung out, you guys all offered some great questions and shared interesting stories from your own travels. But it all flew by so quickly – I was hoping to get a class photo, but before I knew it, class was over and I was hurrying to tell everyone goodbye. Then Ray and I picked up the çay mugs, which were all empty! Way to go, guys!
There’s been a whole lot of content in this blog – facts, anecdotes, opinions – from you guys and me, but if you forget everything else, please remember these final words of advice:
The US is only home to 4.44% of the world’s population, so there’s a lot to learn from from foreign places. Be curious, study a foreign language, and never stop asking questions.
Yollarınız açık olsun!
May your path be open!
Disclaimer about the photos: I asked Ray to do more than humanly possible: to make çay, bring it out to all of you, and take photos. Çay was the priority, of course, so we didn’t end up with many great photos.