Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cross of Cultures

What is black without white? What is life without death? What is Turkish without Americans? The past few weeks we have had the family of the other exchange student in Çanakkale here. The contrast, the ones we may have felt when we first got here, were again quite obvious. I suppose we have adpated more than we have realized. Cultural norms that used to bother us, again began to bother us as we toured sights that have become the background of our lives. I have to admit, I felt much more Turkish than I did American. (This is actually something I worried about as I tried to depchir their actions). For example, when I was lucky enough to have them over to dinner at my house, we took a photo with a pattern of Turk- American- Turk. It was my host dad, then me, then my host brother. I, in seriousness, thought we had done the pattern wrong- there needed to be an American in my place.
The dinner experience was really interesting. Two groups of people, who dont share the same ideas, the same nationality, or even a few words in eachothers language gathered on the floor ( we dont have a table at my house) to share a meal. A surprising thing happened and an important lesson was learned. People despite all border lines and skin colors are still, well, people.They expressed their apprecation for the food with mmmms and smiles and each group told jokes, which were still funny even after translation. The two cultures happily SHARİNG an evening was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Sometimes the culture differences feel impossible and the world is a big place, but everyone can laugh, love, and learn a little from eachother.
My host dad tried to teach them one of his fundemental lessons- the brotherhood of Islam, and the importance of hospitality in Turkish culture.
My first time hearing this lesson he told me people were forgeting brotherhood, and I tried to convince him no- My peers a school love to look after me and eachother, buying food and wishing illness to pass. There is brotherhood I exclaimed! His correction was that that is the remains of brotherhood. (What would he think of America then?) A true Islamic man would happily give his house away to someone in need. This is according to him, one of the most important things in Islam- helping others. And this man exhibts it- when the night ended he begged to be able to give up his bed so they wouldnt have to pay for a night at the hotel. The fact that our countries are arguing over hot issues such as genocide, did not appear to have matter.Babies are born. People get married. People die. We love, hate, laugh, cry, and feel pride.People are, well, people. xoxo