Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Learning--Turkish Connections--Ramadan

We absolutely loved our journey to Turkey in the fall of 2003. All aspects of our time in Turkey were memorable--the art and culture, from ancient civilizations to the present; the beauty of the land, from the abundant harvest and fertile fields, to the mountains and the sparkling, aqua waters of the Mediterranean; and, most of all, the gracious, welcoming Turkish people.
Recently, I was privileged to enjoy two events presented by our local Amity Turkish Cultural Center. We, our son, and his wife joined with a church group in a Ramadan style evening meal, a treat given by the Cultural Center. Since Ramadan falls during our calendar's August this year, daylight is long. Observant Muslims eat something before sunrise and then do not eat or drink until after sunset each day of the month of Ramadan. So, rather than their usual practice of sharing an actual Ramadan meal with others in the community during their celebration, they took pity on us non-Muslims by bringing us a typical meal last week when we all could eat at 6 p.m.
After a brief introduction to the meaning and purpose of Ramadan, they invited us to a buffet with Turkish style macaroni and cheese, rice with vegetables, meatballs and potatoes in sauce, a huge salad, and Turkish baklava--all very delicious. But the best part of the evening was that some of the local Turkish Cultural Center members joined us at each of our round tables and freely answered any questions we had about Ramadan, their faith, or their lives in the U.S. It is hard to describe just how friendly, gentle, and gracious they all were and how open both to sharing and to listening. They truly embodied the mission of the Amity Turkish Cultural Center, which is "building bridges for peace."
In a future post, I'll tell you more about the second of their events that I enjoyed. Telling you about our experiences on that amazing journey to Turkey will also come later (otherwise this post would be verrrrry loooooong :>). This photo from our time in Turkey shows one of the minarets of the magnificent 16th century Sulaymaniyah Mosque in Istanbul, associated with the great Sultan Sulayman.
Question of the day: What cross-cultural experiences have been meaningful for you?


  1. Great post, Mary. I was just watching something on Turkey the other night and it looked beautiful.

  2. Turkey is beautiful, indeed, Manon--and fascinating. Thanks for stopping in.

  3. How cool, Mary! I actually lived in Ankara, Turkey from April of 1985 to July of 1988. My youngest daughter was born in a Turkish hospital, in fact, making her a dual citizen, I think. My oldest daughter was 15 mos. old when we moved there and the Turkish people were just awed by her hair. I cannot tell you how many times her little cheeks were pinched or were the recipient of strangers' kisses (which was rather nonplussing for me as I'm kind of inhibited and non-demonstrative at best). I loved the food, their driving was hair-raising, beautiful rugs and Meerschaum and brass...The seas were indeed beautiful to look at. I loved the pizza was used to get there (I believe it was made with goat cheese) and I suffered serious culture shock when coming back to the U. S. Ramadan in Turkey is definitely something to behold, especially the meat shops and the Ramadan meats butchered and hanging outside. Cats everywhere (my oldest daughter had to have rabies shots as she decided to explore a trash can that was making lots of noise and a feral cat flew out at her)! The country was militarized when we arrived, which was a bit startling to see, but that had ended by the time we left. I still miss it!

  4. That's amazing, Sherry! You have had many adventures in life, and are just the sort of person to make the most of them--curious, gutsy, and friendly. Thanks for sharing your memories of Turkey. Mark and I both had the thought that we could enjoy living there, which does not happen on every journey, even in charming places.

  5. This is a wonderful experience Mary and I have had so many cross-cultural experiences I would not begin to tell you which was the most memorable. I love the education one gets out of them as you learn so much about people across the globe. I think the one which sticks out most in my mind was my first Indian wedding I went to. I was treated as the guest of honor when a co-worker's daughter got married. Their culture is so different to our western one and fascinating.

    Love your other posts and painting too. You are such and excellent artist.

  6. What fun Mary. We often go to Winnepegs "Folkfest" where all the various ethnic groups have there food and cultural activities in church basements etc.

  7. Joan, your generous comments are lovely to hear--thank you so very much. Your joy in cross-cultural events testifies to your creative, adventurous spirit. I appreciate your mention of experiencing an Indian wedding, which sounds fascinating, indeed.

    Our Turkish evening was fun, T.B. I would love to experience the "Folkfest" you go to and wonder how far it might be from my husband's Wisconsin relatives (in Appleton & Waupun). Maybe we can make a day trip of it sometime when we are visiting them. I need to check it out on the Web.