When last I wrote about my daughter Kayla’s trip to Turkey, it was to say that the Icelandic volcano wasn’t interested in allowing her and 20 of her classmates to have this exciting experience.  I’m happy to report that nature finally cooperated, and the group traveled over on Friday, May 21st.  They returned on Sunday, filled with stories of their adventures.

And now, internationalist blog readers, you know what will happen.  Where Turkey was, only a few months ago, just an abstract notion to these 16-year-olds, it will now be a place to which they’ll always feel a connection.  Their ears will perk up a bit at news from Turkey, or they’ll wonder if a person they’ve spotted on the street might be from there.  Maybe they’ll arrange to meet in Teele Square (super close to Fletcher) for dinner at the brand new restaurant, Istanbul’lu.  And I’ve already been warned that Kayla offered our house to all the families who hosted the group for home stays.  You know the deal.  Visiting a place enables a level of understanding that’s nearly unattainable without the visit.

When they received news of the cancellation of the trip in April, their teacher, Mr. N, taught them the phrase hayirlisi olsun.  He also said that, when they finally reached Turkey, he would teach them the meaning of kolay gelsin.  Not wanting to wait for the translation, I reached out to Fletcher students, who explained that the phrase literally means may it come easily.  In fact, the second scheduling of the trip did come easily.  And there’s no easier way to learn about a culture than to visit.

One of the great things about Fletcher is the amazing assortment of places for which students can provide cultural interpretation.  They’ve lived in or visited so many nooks and corners of the globe.  (In fact, the first students to respond to my request for translation help were all non-native speakers of Turkish.)  Now my daughter and her friends are on their way to becoming cultural interpreters.  That’s a gift from their teachers that goes far beyond the week of travel.


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