This week held a pair of mismatched holidays: Republic Day for the Turks and Halloween for us Western folk. It also offered up, for me, four different clubs. And no, this is Erzurum. Clubs are educational organizations… not alcohol-fueled dance parties. Ah well.
First, I went on the Palandoken climb with the University Sports Club (pictures in previous post).
Second was the Medical Faculty English Club. This is a sort of strange, pseudo-class/club that I “teach” on Thursday nights to approximately 20 Doctors from the University Medical School and Hospital. I enjoy talking with them, but the purpose and setting are completely undefined and thus it mostly feelts like a social gathering where they would like me to direct conversation. Which, of course, I’m happy to oblige! This week we talked about expectations and goals they they have for their families. They told me that I’m “very philosophic.” Big surprise.
Third, we helped host a Halloween party for the Erasmus Club on Friday night. Erasmus is a program that supports study abroad for European students to all member countries of the EU and a few other places (like Turkey). The U.S. Student Programs Ambassador hosts the club and we try to attend to help promote English conversation and global travel opportunities. There were about 30 students in attendance. We played games to foster conversation and gave a short presentation on traditional Halloween holiday activities. This was actually very strange for me, having very seldom celebrated Halloween in my life. We primarily presented it as a children’s holiday and talked about candy and costumes. Talking about Holidays is always difficult for me. The religious implications and traditions that feed our modern practices are always more complicated (and interesting) than what our holidays have been reduced to. And for October 31st, I realized that I was much more apt to call it “All Saint Day” or “Reformation Day” thanks to years of Presbyterian and Anglican celebrations. For Janesh and Leah though, Halloween has been one of their favorite holidays for years and they still love to celebrate it.
But enough on that topic! I made a jack-o-lantern for the party since none of the Turks had ever seen a real one before. The University Market provided the perfect pumpkin and I’m pretty proud of the results: a face on one side and the Deathly Hallows symbol from Harry Potter on the other. I read all 6 Harry Potter books since I got here… yeah.
Finally, this morning I attended a Tennis Club with my office-mate, Şennur. The name was something like “Tennis Teaching for the Advancement of Active Citizens of Eastern Anatolia.” The tag line is “black grapes make other grapes blacker” which I’m going to loosely translate as “Iron sharpens Iron.” Right? That seems reasonable?
It was actually fantastically fun. We met in a gym at a nearby high-school and the hoca provided all the equipment. There were 10 guys, Şennur, and me. It was pretty clear they’d not seen women play sports in a while… We did a bunch of drills and played games and generally just ran around having fun. This was somewhat surprising to me since I’ve seen a total of 2 Turkish people running since I moved here. Seeing active people making fools of themselves (I joined in, of course) was refreshing and probably more fun than it ever would have been in the States. No one was very good, as it is a class for beginners, but everyone seemed to be having a great time. They meet every Saturday and Sunday and I’m going to participate as often as a I can! They even invited us to a theater night with them next week.
Clubbing in Turkey for the win.