Tag Archives: Izmir

How the Arts/Media and Public Policy influence one another, and how Time Banks can help!

When I lived in Izmir, a Turkish TV spot shocked me: it showed an image of an elderly Black man, evidently homeless, sleeping in a stairwell directly beneath a sign that pointed up the stairs and read “White House” followed by the caption “Yorum Yok” or “No Comment.” This was about the same time that a major Turkish newspaper criticized the Erdoğan government over the death by hypothermia of an elderly homeless man up in Istanbul, sparking outrage among my Turkish coworkers. These two media pieces, taken together, led me to wonder about the links between the media and public policy.

When I was a kid, PBS School House Rock spots taught me things like the Preamble to the US Constitution, and how bills become law.  These and other PBS shows like Sesame Street demonstrated the concept of cooperation and taught a generation of kids ideas of fairness, social justice, and may have helped pave the way for later laws passed once we became adults on issues ranging from birth control and same-sex marriage to the Affordable Care Act.

In like manner, shows like El Ministerio del Tiempo, in Spain, provide social commentary and critique, while framing various often opposing views on social justice, cooperation, and the policy elements that can encourage those values. Similarly, the Turkish family show Sihirli Annem also showed a generation of kids in Turkey respect for women, social justice and cooperation. That generation is now part of the push-back against radicalism in Turkey today.

All of these shows are examples of how the Arts and Media can influence Public Policy, and vice-versa. Time Banks, when encouraged by local government and community-based organizations, can help in facilitating access to the arts through Open Access Cable, local arts organizations, and extending Time Bank credit to local artists through mural projects and other local culture projects, for the benefit of both local and extended communities.

Join or start one in your community now!

Read, Write, Dream, Walk !

October 18th, 12017 HE

My long-lost language goals and conversations lost (in Spanish)

Interesting that this post was in July, yet it took me months to arrange to leave…
“I always keep a bucket of water full for just such occassions (which are frequent, as it turns out). I am just tired of fighting this. I have alos learned that the culture is much more innuedo-based than I thought. It turns out that someone we know thought I wanted to date him based on something I said about marriage! The fact that I come from a much more direct culture and Turkey is a much more indirect and hint-based culture is a serious problem for me. I think that much of what I percieve to be dishonesty is really a by-product of the Turkish/Asian preference for subtlty (they are a subtle culture while America is definitely not!). The Jewish community is very interesing here. And they have helped me to understand that I will never be accepted as Sephardi. That is one goal accomplished. Another is learning that not only is the Lesbian community completely in hiding and mostly closed but they also really do not want an American coming to try to help them in any way. Took learning enough Turkish before I discovered that one. And as for being accepted (in the closet) as a member of Turkish society, the answer is -only if I give free English lessons and do not make any money in Turkey (and convert to Islam so I can marry a Turk). Which brings me to my last goal, learning about Sufism. It is dead and the city of the Sufies (Konya) is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism that Turkey is working hard to repress. I was also disappointed to learn that my big brother here in Izmir also believes that Kurds are mostly thieves and (a word I do not know) bad people. So I have met my 5 major goals for coming here, I have learned alot, I cannot do any real good here, and I do not want to stay. But the food is awesome and I have learned how to make my favorite dishes already. So that sums up Turkey, now it’s time to leave.”

and here is that list I’ve been looking for for a few years now:
“end of 2006 -full fluency in Spanish
” 2010 – Turkish
2015- Modern Israeli (and reading fluency in Biblical) Hebrew
2020- Egyptian Arabic
2023- Palestinian and Jordanian Arabic
2025- Portugues
2030- French
2033- Catalan
2035- Greek
2040- Italian”

I wanted to scrub French from my list, but now (2020) I am fully fluent, far ahead of reluctant schedule. I also have mostly reading fluencey in Biblical Hebrew now, though Israeli Hebrew is off of my active list. I also watch TV shows like Hakan:Muhafiz in Turkish, so I put myself between conversant and fluent in Turkish.

And, speaking with a Dutch friend who’d lived in Turkey for a year or more before I arrived:
“2005-07-25 08:32:00
psych. damage… (and damned phone)
Sylvıa pointed out that i seem to see most women (tight clothes, sex before marriage, etc) as sluts according to a comment -they think we are all sluts- that i made as we talked about how the Turkish guys treat foreign women. İ also realized that i had caught myself mentalliy agreeing w/Cengis abi about kurds being theives etc. İ am starting to pick up not only the racist sentiments many people here hold but also the ingrained judgement against western clothing styles and glbt people and open sexual mores that some of my closer friends hold (my religious friends here). But my princples say that those things are all ok -they donot hurt anyone. İ am also starting to look down on myself as a lesbian due to the shame of having to keep it a secret. Cengiz abi again told me not to tell anyone. but i promised myself not to be in the closet anymore a year ago. All means that i am getting no better for being in a society that mostly hates who i am. Even in a perfect apartment and my dream job here, the society at large remains the same -dissaproving of me and seeing me as an outsider only good for certain things. İ will be objectified as long as the system pays us more to work here based on an accident of birth (being native speakers) and people will resent it.”

So, I did swim in the Aegean! I’d totally forgotten:
“I had a good day -i met my Azeri coworker Nazile and we went to our coworker Fazil’s house (it took us from 12:30 until 3pm!), where we all ate lunch, went swimming (the Aegean sea is very very very salty!!), walked around Foca (Phocia) and saw a Greek-Turkish political discussion at a large table outdoors on a stage (I wanted to stay and listen but no one else was interested -frustrating as they were speaking in Greek and then translating into Turkish and people were applauding wildly), then saw the last few dances of a show of a Greek folk dance trouppe (their last dance was Romvini in Turkish, a tsifteteli I believe, and everyone clapped but no one danced), then we went home -at 10m, and I arrived home about midnight, but then joined my farther away neighbors on their balcony for some nuts and karpus, and we talked until 1am.”


And, finally, that conversation I had over LJ with someone who asked me in Spanish about my impressions of how the Kurds are seen in Turkey:
“2005-05-06 11:26:00
İsmet İnönü: una historia interesante… ilginç tarih… interesting history…
Yo estaba hablando con mi jefe en la escuela sobre la fiesta de anoche y hablabamos sobre la fieste de Nevrus y otras fiestas (como el de ayer -Hıdırellez). El me decia que los Kurdos no tienen ninguna problema aqui, aunque mi antigua companera de cuarta decia que a los Kurdos Turquia no les gusta y habia descriminacion y aun ahora quedo una guerra contra ellos. Todo los Turkos decian que eso no lo es, y que solamente (los Kurdos) quieren hacer problemas. Es algo interesante. Desde amos lados hay diferente puntas de vista. Pero no sabia que habia algunas presidentes de Turquia que habian Kurdos. Otra amiga me decia que su heroe es İsmet İnönü. Yo estaba un pocito sorprendida. He encontrado unos datos sobre el por alli:”

I post I missed: visit from fellow Havnik abt April of 2005

Chanon in izmir

recent travels -Efes, Milet, Bergama (Ephesus, Miletos, Pergamum)

Ok, İ am really glad that Craig is here as a guest because that has given me the impetus to do some much-needed travelling.

We went to see Ephesus, the ancient city with the great library. İt is amazing. Inscrptions in Latin and Greek (mostly Greek) reminded me that İ do in fact want to learn several different varieties of Greek. the library is richly decorated, and very imposing, even in its current state.
The well-preserved ampitheater had absolutely amazing acoustics! İ litterally whispered and Chanon could hear me half-way up the stairs!

The temple of Apollo in the town of Didim retains its magnificence after more than 2000 years. No inscriptions to be seen, but the temple site is quite impressive enough as it stands.

Miletos has a weed-grown complex including an ampitheater and other buildings we did not see.

During our trips we did a good bit of walking, and were pleasantly surprised with many offers for rides. İn Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) we were given rides (unsolicited) by a man selling carpets, and then by a servis van driver on the way up to the site, then by car full of soldiers on our walk back down from the site. The following trip allowed us to meet a man who drove a truck carrying Aygaz (propane gas) on the way to Mılet, Ergul Hanım, a nice lady who offered us a ride in her car as we walked to the beach in the town of Didim after seeing the Apollyon (temple of apollo). At the beach we met 5 British ex-pats who are living near Didim, and listened in on their discussion of real-estate here. That confirmed what a Turkish person told me earlier about the Turkish government being worried about Brits buying up lots of land -they complained about new restrictions on their ability to buy property and resell to other Brits. They also seemed not to have made much effort to learn Turkish, so İ can understand Turkish hesitation at having a large British enclave. The area clearly caters to Brits, with many pubs and British spelling everywhere. they were quıte nice to us, pointing us in the direction of Miletos (Milet in Turkish) after buying us drinks. We talked of the differences in outlook between the ancient Hellenic world and Jewish general feelings regarding modesty, perfection, beauty, slavery and İ realized that my high regard for ancient greek ideals may be at odds with Jewish thinking (at least Chanon’s point of view on Jewish thinking). İnteresting conflict. I admire beauty, strength (both of character and female physical power), general well-rounded ness (the ability to do many things reasonably well, being well-read in many subjects, etc). He contrasts this with an idea of covering and doing one thing very well. We should talk more about that…

We were offered a ride by the gate-keeper at the ruins of Miletos, who actually called a friend of his to give us a ride to the mini-bus stop 4 km away. They were heading toward Sure, but it was nice to have a short talk with them along the way. they are archeologists working at the museum, which was closed at the time we were there. We also met some students doing geo-physical survey, to scan underground for ancient sites. I have got to study archeology!

p.s. -in case İ forgot to say, İ also went with my South Korean hotel neighbor a few weeks ago to see Pergamum, where the ancient church is built on top of a more ancient temple dedicated to the Egyptian god -uh, I forgot…
Current Mood: cheerful

Being an American when it hurts

I was just reading the comments of the founder of NVC on reactions in a refugee camp.  It struck me that those reactions were the same as the reactions to me in Izmir.  When I lived in Izmir, teaching English, one day one of my neighbors saw me walking up the stairs toward our building, and she took my arm (as women often do in Turkey) to walk with me and talk.  But her talk was more of a harrangue.  She let loose on me about how my government was blaming them for a genocide which they insist did not happen, and that it was all very hypocritical, particularly when the US operates Guantanamo.  I was thunderstruck that she would hold me, a person who had left my country of origin to find a job elsewhere, and to whom she could direct this rant only because I was one of the rare expatriats to spend the time and effort to learn Turkish, responsible for the Apology request.  So, unfortunately, I responded defensively, pointing out that I personally had nothing to do with my government policies, did not agree with much of those policies, and had not voted for the administration then in power!  None of those defensive arguments changed her speech.  Now I see that, like the man in the camp, she needed to vent.  I wonder if, had I allowed her to vent, simply listening and validating what she needed to say to any random American, would that incident and relationship have ended more positively?
Read, Write, Dream, Teach !

20 March, 12016 HE

linking to posts from Istanbul, late 2004, and Izmir, early 2005, Chanon’s bus Lymeric post & link

posted in 2020 during global pandemic:

“cultural note:

Kurds, Turks, and Jewish (Sephardic) familys all kiss the hand and touch the forehead of the eldest person/host as a greeting. I was quite surprised to see this as a universal custom (ok, at least one Kurdish family and extended friend group, only one Jewish family that I got to spend alot of time with around their extended family, and I’ve only seen Turkish family greetings on TV here in the commercials and shows. The Turkish family I lived with did not do this, but they are quite wealthy, and Americanized).

My Kurdish friends love to sing! They do not however consider me Jewish, because my father and mother are not Jewish. That seems to be the same sentiment I got from the Turkish and Jewish people I spoke with here in Istanbul as well.

Most people use propane gas for cooking. Natural gas is only in rich areas, so far.

Here, the doorway is not the place to hide during an earthquake. Under a table is what my roommate tells me…
2004-11-09 17:34:00”

…and just the other year, in 2016, cousin Monica expressed the similar belief that I’d been destroyed, writing me off as hopelessly depressed, yet treating me like a pariah and leaving me alone constantly, denying that there were any family get-togethers, dinners or bbqs for the holidays. Just as Dad was abandoned, except that I have never drank nor used drugs. With family like that, who needs enemies?

“karamsar, dark or negative thinking, really?

A person in Izmir accused me of being thus, for refusing to bring a new life into this world. I beg to differ…
…nor am I a raving suicidal lunatic who is emotionally ruined, I am an adventurer exploring places that most people would not try to explore, both physically and emotionally in a time in my life that seems late to most, but is a stage that I missed earlier on and need to push myself through. But it is so hard, most of the time, to keep all of this in mind. May HaShem grant me an all people who wander peace of mind and complete total Shalom. ”


and lastly but most poignent of all:
The conversation before the lymeric (ok, or maybe after the Lymeric…) !!

“At Ersan Pansyon, just off of Kibris Sehitler caddesi, near my apartment, there is a nice young man who works there, who yesterday offered us breakfast and the opportunity to talk. My guest Chanan does not speak Turkish, so I served as both translator and breakfast guest with him. This has been wonderful. I have forgotten the young man’s name, but he asked many questions about the US, which I translated for Chanon from a Boston/NY perspective, and occasionally threw in my own prespective on growing up in the south. One thing that particularly struck me, which I have hear from religious Turks before, is that they are anxious for Americans and Europeans to know that Turkey is different from the other muslim countries, and *is not Arab* -and also is not a bed for fanatical Islam. The current president, as our friend told us, comes from a religious background, as does the family that runs this pansyon, and none of them are fanatics. All do however believe strongly in hospitality and friendship. He told us that all of the people in the world are relatives, all descending from Adam and Eve. This was a wonderful conversation.
2005-03-24 12:52:00”

“2005-03-23 15:10:00
Group Limerick -on the bus!!
Here is a limerick İ composed with the help of several fellow passengers (!)on the bus as we travelled to meet some SERVAS friends (the SERVAS http://www.servas.org coordinator here in İzmir, as it turned out) here in İzmir:

Izmir’de çok kaybolduk
“Hangi tarafa döndük?!”
Mutfak çok pislik
Zor temizledik
Efes’i gördük, mutluyduk

the link to all of his travel limericks is also available from this link, i think… https://lists.ccs.neu.edu/pipermail/craignet/2005/000122.html

Here is my original in a more readable form…
Izmir’de cok kaybolduk
“Hangi tarafa donduk?!”
Mutfak cok pislik
Zor temizledik
Efes’i gorduk, mutluyduk

…sorry, thought I’d posted the translation with it:
In Izmir we were lost all the time
“Which way did we turn?!”
The kitchen was really dirty
We had a hard time cleaning it
We say Ephesus, we were happy


2005-03-25 14:15:00
Los EE y el emperio Romano; ABD ve Roma emperyum; US and the Roman Empire…
Estoy trabajando para amigos en leer sus documentos en ingles, escuchando a Nuevo Flamenco muy bonito (me sorpresa que Slash puede tocar la gitarra tan bueno asi!), y preocupando por me permiso de trabajar, y yo estaba pensando en los EE y Roma, que similar; En los ultimos años, la culta del emperor y los valores familiares fue mucho hablado (me temo que he olvidè a esta idioma, y nunca fue tan bueno, asi que me perdoneran, ustedes queridos leeredores…). Una buen amiga me decia que los EE y Roma tienen muchas cosas en comun…

*cringe* now for the Turkish attempt -I’m still trying to translate the last line of silmaril’s
http://www.livejournal.com/users// comment…
*ahora en Turquesa, aunque estoy tratando de traducir a la ultima linea de la respuesta de Silmaril…

Çalışıyorum ve düşünüyorüm -çalışma vizem nerede? Düşündüm ki ABD ve Roma Emperyum çok beğenziyor.
As I shuttle back and forth between trying not to worry about where the bleepety bleep bleep bleep my bleeping work visa is (lost in Ankara bueracracy…), work on reviewing the English documentation for some friends, and reading this paper on Global Civil Society (I confess that i would like to see more documentation for some of their points…) http://www.pcdf.org/civilsociety/path.htm I am reminded of a comment by a close friend about two years ago that mirrored my own thoughts -the US really is looking more and more like the Roman Empire did, in it’s final centuries (say, around the time of Domitian as he tried to prop up the prestige of the empirial cult, get back to family values, etc)…
castellano, ngo, economic justice”

From (zlB) Craig/Chanon’s visits while I lived in Izmir: https://shiradestin.wordpress.com/2005/07/17/less-stress-does-lead-to-better-understanding-and-less-wrath-poured-out/