Random ideas for ELT people, plus guest blogs & travel notes


A Russian colleague sent me this message that one of her students sent to her from Istanbul. They have given me permission to post it here. It gives an interesting view of the troubles from a foreigner’s perspective:

My friend works at a travel agency and she gets extremely cheap tickets or tours very often. And so, on Friday she offered to go to Istanbul for peanuts really and to stay with her friend, which was even more tempting as it would save money.

When her friend picked us up from the airport, we went for a walk in Bağdat Caddesi (the most famous avenue in the Asian side where we actually stopped as it’s safer here). The he went to Taksim to protest and promised to come back in two hours and get us home. But he didn’t come and we were waiting for a long time. His phone wasn’t available, all our things were at his house and it was really terrible!!! Luckily, we had our passports and money on us so we were able to find a hotel. 

For four days we couldn’t get home and find him!!! Finally, he contacted us, he was hurt by the police during those protests and sent to hospital. You cannot even imagine what is happening here!!! What is shown on TV cannot reflect the real image of the events happening. I am typing this message and hearing voices from everywhere, cars beeping, police sirens, slogans, people with flags, masks, whistling, they’re clanking with plates and forks!! 

Every single day at 21.00, they start clanking with plates and forks, clapping their hands, shouting everywhere!!! In every area, people are doing that either on streets or staying at home but anyway somehow they are involved!! It’s really amazing and unbelievable!!! I went to Taksim once and it was awful…gas bombs, everyone was in a special mask, the streets are closed but people do not care! They sleep in Taksim Square, eat there, dance, play guitars. So many places are ruined to ashes!!! Police are everywhere, but people are not afraid because they support each other, they are so patriotic! I cannot imagine the same thing happening in Russia. 

It seems like the most important event is happening here, everyone cares – women, children, elder people. I don’t wanna leave Istanbul! It’s so great here, I feel being involved also! I feel like I’m in the center of something important and vital for this country and for the world’s history as well. And it’s really not dangerous for a tourist if not going to Taksim.

Part Two

I have moved to another area now, we live in Bostancı (also Asian side), close to Kadıköy and I can hear even now at these hours voices, and see columns, crowds of people walking along the road, whistling and shouting, and I also found out such an interesting thing- people are playing with the light in their houses like-turning it on- off on off on off in rhythm to those slogans!! It’s so unusual! Those crowds seem to never give in!! It’s amazing!! Everyone joins the crowds (except the ones who support the prime minister of course. My neighbours are supporters and I hear them grumbling and swearing.

Several days ago when I was walking along Bağdat Caddesi, there was a sort of protest but pretty small, I bought a flag and joined them. An elderly woman was staring at me and then asked where I was from. When she found out I was Russian, she was amazed and began praising me saying “Oh, you are not Turkish but even you care about what’s happening here!! Russia is with us also!! With the help of those who care we will cope with all these terrible things!” I was kind of motivated to support them after such words.

My friend cannot come to Asian side from the European now because they closed the Bosforus Bridge and people can only walk, those who go by cars have to leave them on the European side or I don’t know, maybe sleep there!


Comments on: "Taksim/Gezi from a foreigner’s perspective" (8)

  1. Görsev İnceçay said:

    Could you please share this on your facebook account???

    sent from my iPhone…

    16 Haz 2013 tarihinde 13:45 saatinde, Ken Wilson’s Blog şunları yazdı:

    > >

  2. ilknur said:

    Dear Mr. Wilson,

    Turkey belongs to Turks. And only Turkish people have a say. We have always been a great nation. And we’re becoming even greater for the last decade. No country or no member of any nationality has a right to interfere.

    Please mind your own business which I believe is ELT if not a international strategic analyst.

    • İlknur,

      What does ‘only Turkish people have a say’ mean? This is an extremely narrow minded approach. This is exactly what we are rising up against. Your words like ‘mind your own business’ remind me of Tayyip Erdoğan’s frequently used words and his very much negative and arrogant attitude. This is what we educators cannot accept, especially in this age.

      In democracies EVERYBODY has a say about any subject.

      Besides, ELT people like Ken Wilson have a very broad vision and big heart. You don’t need to be an international strategic analyst or whatever for that.

      English teacher

    • Caring about what happens to those we know and love in Turkey and sharing opinions about it is not interfering, though I’m glad you feel we outside Turkey have that much power. I wish we did.

  3. Hi Ilknur – well that’s a rather old-fashioned attitude to free speech and democracy. And I see that you have a German email address. Do you actually live in Turkey?

  4. For about 20 days, Gezi Park is not a national issue, it is an international one and many people around the world are protesting the Turkish government and especially The PM for their brutal intervention. I guess she-Ilknur is away from the debates which have been going on the social media for a long time. I agree with Burcu that “In democracies EVERYBODY has a say about any subject.”

  5. ilknur said:

    Dear colleagues,

    I sympathize with what the neutral (non-violent) people argue against about the government/ PM issues or the over-supressive attitude of the police, etc. Our citizens have every right to protest whatever they are unsatisfied about. I realize that we do not have a post-modern democracy.

    The crucial point which worries me is the disclosure of some documents from the year 2009. They point out to the need of causing a public uprising in Turkey to prevent its growth. Because they do not want a majorly muslim country neither to be powerful nor thoroughly independent.

    What upsets/depresses me about these events is the intervention of other countries with covered intentions of democracy. I do not mean their just stating their ideas and feelings about what’s going on. And thoroughout history no two countries have proved to be friends-esp. for this country.

    In my opinion, stooping to other countries for help instead of “looking for that strength in your blood” , as our leader ATATURK advised, is a national embarrassment. HE would never do that! I’ve never seen/heard/met an English, German, Korean, American, Indian etc..do that and I wouldn’t either.

    “And if she let
    Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
    Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
    —E’en then would be some stooping; and I choose
    Never to stoop. ”
    Robert Browning

    Thank you for reading and replying. Sorry if I broke your heart or made you angry.
    (Esp. Ken Wilson because I learned from you. If I am any better in the classroom, I owe you.)

  6. Ilknur- I’ve been following this discussion, but I confess am finding it difficult to follow your train of thought.

    First you tell Ken, an individual who sympathises with the cause of his friends in Turkey, to mind his own business, suggesting that ‘no member of any nationality has the right to interfere.’ (Which is, as Ken pointed out, an old-fashioned attitude to free speech and democracy.) Then you suggest that all the ruckus currently going on in Turkey has been somehow caused by the intervention of other countries. Now, I have no doubt that other countries have some interest in the fate of Turkey- and not only for altruistic reasons- but do you really think that the thousands and thousands of Turks who have been protesting in ‘ 90 locations in Turkey and dozens of cities within the Turkish Diaspora’ (wikipedia) have all been somehow enticed into civil unrest by foreign forces? I’d just be interested in finding out if that’s what you really think.

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