Turkish Sleepover and Small Classes

My Turkish sleepover involved two very nice Kurdish girls who speak as much English as I do Turkish. That meant it quickly spiraled into three word sentences, lots of dictionaries, smiles and confusion. However, it was highlighted by about 10 glasses of tea, great food, pomegranates, dancing, and them doing my hair. There was also a midnight trip to get sunflower seeds, getting lost and the singing of love songs. I was also quite confused by whether a phone call one of the girls got was a wrong number, a stalker, or a potential suitor. Perhaps all three? All I know was that there were at least six calls from him, and several long conversations some with him, some about him. The next morning, after waking me nicely in Turkish they gave me all the food in the house of 5 girls since they were leaving for Bayram — which equaled about 20 servings of food and 8 loaves of bread. And I feel like this food could have fed five thousand. I was also invited to come milk cows, bake bread and bring my boyfriend to her house.

Each of my Monday and Tuesday classes were attended by 3 to 5 students. What could have been strange, but was actually quite a bit of fun. It’s only in those small groups that the quietest students open up, talk and are willing to make mistakes. In each class I could feel their fear and tension at the beginning of class (always punctuated by “Fine thank you, and you”), but through each two hour class we broke through that — playing bananagrams, me over-acting in ways they thought hilarious, or simply drinking tea together. I also played some pretty awesome ping pong with my students.

Turks are amazingly gracious even as students. Each class I told I would buy them tea, and, while they’d let me feed them chocolate, none of them would let me buy a round of tea. In some classes, one student would take it upon themselves to order everyone else to sit down, other classes would each get money out and compete for who could catch the çay guy’s eye to pay first. One class told me to stay in the classroom and that they’d get it (and chocolate) and bring it back up. Another class all wanted to take a smoke break but didn’t want to leave me behind. We went outside, and they showed me why they bring their books to class: to put atop the cement ledge and sit on, as insulation. Chivalry is far from dead in this land, there was a lending of a coat, opening of doors and always the guys rushing to pay for everyone involved.

A student told me the Iluminati killed Michael Jackson, Dan Brown should be proud. Also Eminem was a part of the Illuminati, but isn’t anymore.
Also there was a festival in the main square on Sunday with roller hockey, taekwondo, ping pong, volleyball, and Erzurum bars dancing. The organizers did some serious blasting of “Eye of the Tiger”.

My Turkish is crawling forward as friends, acquaintances, students, and passersby all take it upon themselves to teach me a word in a store, a phrase over çay, or a grammatical construct on the stairs. I’m going to Georgia (and possibly Armenia if there’s time) for Bayram, so a brief break from Turkish, traveling somewhere with an incomprehensible script and difficult language. Walking around the city today, I saw a man pulling along a sheep with a bunch of parsley in the other hand. That’s meat and vegetables, Erzurum style. I’m peacing out on the blood in the streets tradition, at least for this year.


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