SIT Student Reflects on Intercultural Communications Course in Turkey

by Ian Hefele

In January 2012, 22 SIT students (who are American) convened in Istanbul, Turkey for SIT’s field-based Intercultural Communications course taught by Professor Linda Gobbo. We spent a week in Istanbul doing community service, touring the city, and learning Turkish. Of course, we drank buckets of tea. Week two was spent in a rural village about five hours driving distance from Istanbul. Here is our video about our experience.

One night in Yenice, as the village was called, some American students and their Turkish families converged on my host family’s home. I lived with the mayor of Yenice, so there was room to host. My host mother was excited to have visitors, and she instantly went into a cooking frenzy. The best china was brought out. A tablecloth was presented, the tea was boiled, and the snacks kept coming. We were immediately allowed to sit in the sitting room (most Turkish households which can afford it have one), and the snacks kept coming. Tavla (Backgammon) was pulled out and we were taught how to play. Much hilarity ensued when we quickly learned we did not play up to Turkish standards. The tea glasses were refilled before they were even finished, and the snacks kept coming. We played until about 1:00 AM, and only after I insisted we should get some rest did the snacks stop coming.

Later, my host sisters said this was the best night they had in Yenice for quite some time. They were so happy we visited. I could only fall sleep after we all became Facebook friends. Is this a technological way to extend the hospitality across the continents?

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