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International evening "Meet the world": Turkey 18.11.2013

On Monday 18th of November, our Meet the World evening tried to take the listeners away from the damp and cold autumn nights to somewhat warmer Turkey. Turkey was represented by Mustafa Soysal who is currently doing his PhD in Cultural Studies at Tallinn University. Estonian guest speaker was a student of Journalism and Communication Inkeri Parman who has visited Turkey several times – she has participated in a youth festival, worked as an English teacher and did her Erasmus exchange semester there.

Mustafa talked about Turkey’s historical geography and geography nowadays. He also shed some light on the origin of Turkish people – people have a misconception that Turkish are Arabs or from the Middle-East, but actually they come from Altai Mountains. From the geographical point of view he explained how vast Turkey is and, therefore, climate, vegetation and fauna are all quite different in the different parts of Turkey.

He explained the diversity of sounds in Turkish alphabet (their „ı” is our „õ”) and introduced some lesser-known Turkish thinkers (e.g. Yunus Emre) and well-known ones (e.g. Rumi). In the end, he showed a video by Katharine Branning where she explains Turkish society through tea (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ7XDdhZEsg). He also turned the usual presentation form around and asked listeners questions and rewarded right answers with books about Turkey.

Inkeri started her presentation with her first visit to Turkey, when she participated in a youth festival that took place in Gaziantep. She shared her story, how she and a couple of friends decided to hitch-hike to Kilis – a city near Syrian border -, how they were picked up by a family of 5 in a small car (so alltogether 8 people) and who invited them along to a Turkish wedding. And it was just a coincidence that when they arrived to Kilis, current Turkish prime minister Erdoğan was doing his campaign there and not only has Inkeri shaken hands with Erdoğan, she was also brought back to Gaziantep by police, who had been part of Erdoğan’s escort.

She spoke about her time as a volunteer, when she worked as an English teacher in two schools in Kocaeli, where she also did her exchange semester in Kocaeli University. She remembered Turkish hospitality – how as a volunteer she felt like part of the teacher’s community and how she got really close to one of her Turkish flatmate’s family, who taught her to cook Turkish cuisine.

She pointed out some cultural differences, e.g. how young men and women do not generally share a flat and physical affection between young couples are not tolerated everywhere, It was told that as far as turism goes, there are many beautiful places to be discovered in Turkey and at least when you see a monument, you do not have to wonder who could it be, because generally monuments depict Atatürk.