Friday, March 18, 2016

Quick Update to Readers

March 19, 2016

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for your readership, and special thanks to those who email or write to me with their thoughts. I love hearing your feedback and stories. It means a lot to me that you are following my blog and my adventures. Having an audience to write for motivates me to continue.

I wanted to let you know that I’m clearly behind on my blogging. However, I’m catching up, slowly but surely. Here is a list of topics that still need to be blogged about – stay tuned!
  • Berlin (last leg of the Europe trip)
  • My birthday celebrations
  • Snow tubing in Isparta
  • Singing in Turkish class
  • What do we actually do at the university?
  • Eskişehir
  • Bursa/Yalova
  • Lowest point of my Fulbright experience
  • Reaction to the dangerous events in Turkey
  • Reaction to Bowdoin College’s cultural appropriation
  • Family visit to Turkey

As some of you might know, my family is coming to Turkey this weekend for a one-week visit. We will split our time between Istanbul and Antalya. However, given the recent Ankara bombings, there are red-flag security alerts in major cities including Istanbul and Antalya. This Sunday is also Nevruz, a cultural (sometimes religious) holiday which welcomes spring. Many young people abuse the holiday and use it as an excuse to party. Given the recent events in Turkey, authorities believe that events such as protests and demonstrations will be politically-charged, and as a result, have warned U.S. citizens to avoid large gatherings and tourist areas. As you can imagine, the timing of all this absolutely awful. My family is expected to arrive to Istanbul on Sunday at 4pm, and I am going to Istanbul on Saturday (staying with a friend) just to be able to welcome them. I cannot cancel these plans. I even created a 3-page itinerary for them. I have informed the Turkish Fulbright Commission of my plans (they strongly recommended against traveling this weekend), and will use caution during the four days that we are in Istanbul. I know my parents are a little nervous about coming, but I pray that nothing will happen. My fellow readers, friends and family, I ask for your prayers that nothing major happens this weekend. The last thing this beautiful country needs is another terrorist attack.

Here is the message from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara:
Embassy of the United States of America
Ankara, Turkey
Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Nevruz Celebrations
March 17, 2016
U.S. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that in light of recent events and the upcoming Nevruz holidays, citizens should be mindful of their security precautions. Nevruz celebrations are anticipated in various locations throughout Turkey on March 17-21. Local authorities have banned large gatherings during select dates over the Nevruz period citing security concerns. Celebrations in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir, and Adana are expected to take place Sunday, March 20. The celebration in Diyarbakir, traditionally the site of the largest Nevruz festivities, is currently scheduled for March 20. The entire period is expected to see festivities that could be large and/or spontaneous.
Nevruz is a festival commonly recognized as the Kurdish and Persian New Year and a celebration marking the beginning of spring. Public Nevruz observances typically involve roadside bonfires in addition to large celebrations. Nevruz has political as well as social connotations, and in some recent years has been a flashpoint for spontaneous demonstrations.
Demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. We advise U.S. citizens to continue to avoid political gatherings, protests, and demonstrations and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity. Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings and local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and follow local authority instructions.
The U.S. Embassy also reminds individuals that terrorist organizations have targeted transportation hubs, Turkish government facilities, and public spaces in the recent past.

That’s all for now. Please keep Turkey in your prayers. I’ll write as soon as I can.

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