Tag Archive: Ankara

One of our final briefings was with an NGO called Çağdaş Yaşami Destekleme Derneği, which in English literally translates to “Association for Support of Contemporary Living”. The main objective is to provide education to those who may otherwise go uneducated (young girls in Eastern Turkey mainly) to provide them an opportunity to progress and to build a more modern society.

They have numerous scholarship programs that provide for secondary and tertiary education for girls. In Turkey schooling is compulsory up to the age of 14. Eastern Turkey is still extremely conservative in comparison to Western Turkey (Western Turks will often call them conservatives and sometimes even terrorists due to significant presence of Kurds) and it is not uncommon for young girls to be pulled out of educational institutions in favour of married life.

We all know that in many cultures it is the mother who raises the children. It is generally the mother who stays home, the mother who takes them to school or activities and the mother who spends the most time with them. In cultures like that in bilingual households the children are most likely to speak the language that the mother speaks fluently.

It is extremely important for social progress that children have an educated mother and it is even more important for social progress that children have female role models to look up to and respect.

Apparently, a common outcome is that the women that they help to educate often become teachers and move back to their villages to teach. Needless to say, this generally leads to positive outcomes as it gives children a female authority figure, gives an educated adult woman as a role model and can be inspiring for the girls of the community.

It was very interesting to hear the perspective of a woman from Ankara about the treatment of women in Turkey. Obviously Turkey has issues with human rights, civil rights and women’s rights, but it seems to be particularly bad in Eastern Turkey due to the conservativism of the region. You will hear many Turks say how they are a modern nation and equal rights allegedly apply and all that lovely stuff, but to hear a woman who experiences the plight of females in Eastern Turkey on a regular basis it makes you realise just how divided the country is and how little development has seemed to happen to Eastern Turkey since Ataturk changed the country.


The Road to Ankara

This is going to be a short one as I want to put the briefings for this day into different posts.

So as I said in my previous post, we were out til about 4am and we had to leave at 6. There was a banging on my door at 6.20 telling me we were late. Woops. Still not packed. Woops. There was a very hasty packing, which involved throwing anything where it would fit and forgetting my toothpaste and toothbrush. Annoying. So I got onto the bus, and passed out almost immediately. I was soooooo tired. Not to mention still intoxicated. Not pretty. I was forced to wake up eventually as we had a rest stop and they made me get off the bus. I wandered around this “truck stop”, which is much nicer than any truck stop you’ll ever find in the US. They had a large cafeteria style cafe and next to it the “convenience store” area was pretty awesome. They had the usual drinks and chips, but they also had barrels and barrels of nuts, olives and Turkish delights. I really wanted to buy the olives, but thought better of it. They also had a display of some of the largest lighters I have ever seen and pocket knives. In hindsight (especially considering my pocket knife would later be confiscated in Hong Kong) I should have bought one of the pocket knives as there were a few that looked exactly like mine only slightly larger for only 10 Lira. That’s about $7. Anyway, in true Aryn fashion, I bought a large bottle of water (for all of about $1) and a couple of red bulls. Badly needed red bulls. At this point I was still intoxicated but moving towards a hangover.

By the time we got back on the bus I spent the remainder of the ride to Ankara drifting in and out of sleep. When I was awake I noticed that the scenery very much reminded me of Montana. It was like driving between Billings and Bozeman without the mountain passes. I’m sure if I were in any other state I would have been much more appreciative of the scenery, but I’ll check it out next time I’m in Turkey.

We got to Ankara with about an hour to check in, change into our business clothes and go to the shopping centre next to the Crowne Plaza (where we were staying. swoon) and grab some lunch. I noticed they had an Arby’s and became extremely excited so immediately went there. I’ve never actually tried to order American food at a fast food restaurant before in a different language, but it was not easy. It was easy enough to ask for the roast beef sandwich, but the drink bit was a bit difficult as they apparently order that in Turkish and the guy didn’t speak English. While I was very excited about the curly fries, I was much more excited about the roast beef with au jus sauce. I was disappointed though because they didn’t serve roast beef sandwiches with au jus sauce. They put mayo on it. Wasn’t bad, but not what I wanted. That’s okay, it was still delicious.

From there we went to the Australian embassy to have a briefing with a top academic in the area of water and energy security and the Ambassador for Turkey. Those will be in other blog posts though. After this visit we were all super exhausted. We went back to the hotel and 2 of the girls and myself changed clothes and went to the shopping centre and grabbed a starbucks to kill the hour before dinner. Had I stayed in the hotel room I would have passed out and not woken up until the next morning. I found this extremely amusing because the further outside of Istanbul we got the more people that thought I was Turkish. I walked into Sephora and some guy came up to me speaking Turkish and I said “Pardon. English?” and he grabbed my wrist said “No English” and sprayed perfume on my wrist. It smelled like dust. It was terrible. We had a beautiful dinner at the Crowne Plaza before I went up and had a shower, repacked my stuff properly and went to bed that night. That was possibly the most beautiful sleep of the entire trip. Those beds were amazing.

Pictures of Ankara and the road to can be seen here.