This was a remarkable week in many ways, although since I have arrived in Turkey, every week has been remarkable in some way. My students dug into their projects after the weeklong holiday. I gave a lecture on my work and the UF Ceramics Program to the Fine Arts Faculty (College). I had a very positive response from my colleagues and the students. The Dean gave me a beautiful drawing of his as a thank you. I was truly touched.
I spent an evening with friends, enjoying traditional rakı and meze with Turkish folk music. This tradition, along with the tea and coffee culture here, encourages quality time to socialize and get to know people. It has been a wonderful aspect of my time here.
For the weekend I went to Konya with my US neighbor. Konya impressed me with its wide tree lined boulevards and many parks. The Mevlana Museum is a UNESCO site and it tells the history of the prophet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, leader of one of the Sufi orders. He, his family and many important Sultans are buried there. I also visited the Karatay Museum, which is famous for its tiles and ceramics. It is built over an archeological site. I peeked into the depository room and saw plastic boxes piled high and wide with shards to be put together some day. The tile and pottery examples on display are exceptional.
The highlight of the visit was witnessing the Sema, a Mevlevi Rite, and a religious ceremony where dervishes, initiates of the Sufi path, whirl as a way of remembering god. It cannot help but have the feel of a performance, as it is practiced in a large theater in the round at the Mevlana Cultural Center. It is hard to describe, but there is a good deal of bowing, some interesting music, and of course, men dressed in white with billowing skirts that accentuate their spinning. It was an amazing event to experience.
I am enjoying a couple days holiday, along with the Turks for their Independence Day -October 29, 1923. Theirs was a long and hard fought battle and it is fitting to take time to celebrate it.
Disclaimer: This is not an official Department of State website, and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State