Tariq Abid UWCAC 2011-2013
A couple of months ago a plan was initiated in which eventually a group from three different UWCs came together for a trip to Turkey. Right after the end of term, we got to Turkey.
First stop, Istanbul at first sight appeared to be a conventional big city yet with a strong feeling of cultural underpinnings. It sure was a welcome relief to experience the sun and accompanying mild heat after a long spell of grey in Wales, and the food didn’t disappoint either. A really great sight was that of the Asian continent from the European side of Istanbul across the Bosphorus strait. The scenery had a special aesthetic feel that was hard to ignore. Moreover in Teksim, a prominent district, late Wednesday night had a festive mood. People were animated and there was a general hustle and bustle about the place. This, I was told, was the norm for the place, one of the dozen other places of the kind. This energy on a typical week night really appealed to me.
Then I flew to Van, in the extreme East of Turkey, a place recently ravaged by an earthquake. Here the accommodation was a prefabricated housing container, all grey, on top of a dusty rugged landscape close to medium height hills and a giant lake. The people here were really open and hospitable, very fascinated by our culturally diverse beings, they were always willing to help us out out in whatever way they could and live up to their traditionally hospitable
spirit. The main focus of stay in Van was to contribute in some way towards the recently ravaged people of Van; this was hindered to a large extent by the often very bureaucratic and restrictive inclinings of the local authorities. Yet they were always generous in their welcome especially by offering of tea, very generous – we practically consumed dozens of litres of tea in that week or so.
I also happened to go to the hill town of Bursa, the once capital city of the Ottoman Empire. Here, Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire is buried along with his successor. Also salient are beautiful mosques, shrines and a nice marketplace notably selling beautiful silk items. From there on my way to Ankarra, I saw one of the most beautiful landscape ever, with criss crossing of green hills and intermittent plains. Ankarra itself seemed to me like a very wok – centric environment, though there’s the beautiful mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, which features an impressive war museum that is well worth visiting.
At this point the journey goes on, but I’m glad I chose to visit this place, I’ve had some wonderful experiences and have learnt a great deal about local realities.
-United Words Team-