March 07, 2003
It is Sunday evening and I am sitting in my (new) bedroom listening to the Imam calling the people to prayer. This is what I missed the most after I left Turkey last year, and hearing it makes me nostalgic for my group of friends from last year. I remember one specific moment from my time with CRC (the Comparative Religion and Culture Program) when we all stood at the top of a tall hill in Cappadocia (eastern Turkey) which was located in the middle of four different mosques. As we stood against the incredible winds that flew amidst us, we were motionless, awestruck, by the voices resonating from the mosques. It was as if Allah was speaking directly to us, through the wind, in surround sound. And all of us-- Jews, Christian Scientists, Baptists, Catholics-stopped and listened. OH, what a feeling... memories...[sigh]...!
So, yes, I am now in Turkey, even though the last time I wrote I was in London. CRAZY! I sadly left London, having made some incredible friends and only seeing the tip of the iceberg, as they say, of London. I got the chance to see Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and Big Ben only briefly one evening during my last few days, and only in seeing these spectacular architectural feats did I realize how much more I have to explore next time I return to London. (I say with high hopes!)
During my last week in London I completed my interviews with the faculty and had the opportunity to talk with many of the students at the European Center. I spent Monday afternoon with one faculty member, Rajini, and as we talked about multiple and evolving interpretations the Friends World Program, she served me the most amazing homemade Indian food I have had in forever! Not a bad way to conduct an interview, if you ask me... I was not surprised with the students, who I spoke with during formal interviews as well as informally at the dormitory and at the Center, and their engaging discussion and opinions about the direction and goals of our school. On one hand, Friends World asks of its students to be responsibly engaged in their schoolwork and their community, so my asking them for their opinions about the mission of our school and the idea of experiential education is no extraordinary question. On the other hand, when I step away from my work and look at the students I am talking with, I am taken aback by the level of awareness and dedication students have to Friends World. I should say that not every comment was positive, but even these negative comments were said with an underlying understanding that it is within the nature of Friends World for students to vocally critique, constructively criticize, and play a role in any changes made to the program. The fact that Friends World students care enough about their school to be vocal about its direction, says a lot about the level of respect that sits between the program and the students. I am an education student, so I feel naturally involved with what my school is doing-hence my thesis. But that so many other students engage themselves as well in school politics, theory, and methodology is important to me.
So I said goodbye on Friday morning, which was still Thursday evening to me, and sat for a few moments in the quietness of my on-the-way-to-the-airport cab ride that I have become accustomed to. I noticed that I was still not accustomed to driving on the left side of the street, and laughed to myself (at myself) when I realized that the words "look left" and "look right" painted on the sidewalks of most main streets in London were put there for people like me-- who might not have survived my two weeks there without them. :-)
And now I am in Turkey, where I sit comfortably in taxis that drive on the right side of the road (pun intended!). I met the new CRC group at the airport with my stupendous friend, Margie, who I am living with during my time here. I nearly attacked the two "leaders" of the group who were also on my trip last year when I saw them; yet again, a trip down memory lane. It was so great to see them again!!! Who thought we would be back in Turkey together a year later? Not me! I am excited to spend these next two weeks getting to know the new CRC "crew" and continuing my research...
Guess that is all for now. I miss you and I hope things are going well for you back in California! Send my love to everyone back home,