Saturday, April 21, 2012

Turkish People

There's no doubt about it. Turkey has a LOT of people, pulling from a diverse section of cultures, ethnicity, and religions. It's an amazing blend of Asia and Europe. We are incredibly lucky to have friends living there and to have made the trip. We encountered so many different people, all who were welcoming and kind. Usually they wanted to touch our kids' hair, chat with us, and often requested photos together with the kids.

Many of the school kids we met wanted to ask questions about living in America and about our kids.
Emory was offered a future job in the bazaar selling rugs....

The school kids wanted to know if we knew Justin Bieber personally. If we had signed posters we could give them. If we knew about other "American rock stars", a few of who, sadly, I'd never heard of, despite the kids best effort to make me understand by singing 'covers' in English (with Turkish accents). As they called up photos on their ipohones of people with guitars- most of whom I didn't recognize, I felt really old and un-American when I couldn't answer their questions. Apparently I need to watch more TV.
They wanted to know our favorite foods. Where we lived. What we did for work and how we liked it.  Where our favorite city was in the US, and then they'd chatter amongst themselves to try to recall what state the city was located within. They wanted to know if we liked Turkey (the country), and if we liked "history".
They appreciated the fact that our kids attended a local Belgian school, and had learned another language. They'd often say in parting that our kids "are beautiful", but I couldn't help but to think that the Turkish kids were really beautiful- in the way they were fun, inquisitive, approachable, curious, well mannered, and interested.  That's just the kind of thing that make a kid beautiful.
Really, we met so many friendly people that week that it was almost overwhelming. Statistically speaking, in such a vast sea of people, you'd think we'd have come across at least one jerk. Nope. Not a one. That kinda thing makes a journey really impressive. But you know what? Of all those people who we encountered, the one that I will remember most, was the first Turkish lady I met.
I don't even know her name, but I know that I will remember her most for a long time to come. We met accidentally in a park when she was looking for her grandson. I will treasure her joyful, toothless smile. The way she joked that my Turkish was "good" (but I know no Turkish). I will no doubt, ponder about her status in the future, wondering how she's doing and where she is at times. Despite the obvious miles of wear and tear life has put upon her. She was welcoming, funny, hospitable and so kind. She hugged me. Offered food. Chatted. And took photos with us. She's a complete stranger really, and is probably an everyday kinda person like the rest of us.
But what she represents to me, is the very heart of every Turk I met.

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