On the night of April 1st I took the night bus to Ankara with my American Samsunites. We spent the morning of my 19th birthday planning trees wth the US Embassy in Ankara. We met the ambassador and got to do community service. It was great giving back to the earth on my birthday. In the afternoon we walked around a little before dinner. As I am here in Turkey on a scholarship from the US State Department, we have some special requirements as well as many benefits, one of them being having diplomat mentors to talk to about working in the foreign service. The woman who is in charge of us while we are in Turkey, Stefanie, invited us to her house for a potluck of American food to meet all of our mentors. It was great having foods that we have been longing for so long such as chilli, lasagna, garlic bread, cucpakes, girl scout thin mint ice cream, and root beer. It truly felt as if we had traveled back to the US for the evening, which was very culturally confusing, but very enjoyable. All 4 of us realized to a small extent what we will go through when we return back to the US in June. The next day walked around the city, went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch (which made me realize that I will never have Chinese food in Turkey again :P) and then returned back to Samsun later that evening.
On Friday April 15th my family came to visit me from the US over my brother’s April vacation. It was amazing to see them after so long, especially in Samsun. We spent our time in Samsun wakling around, touring, meeting my friends and family, and spending time together. We also went to Ankara for 2 days and they went to Capadoccia for 2 days, without me as I had school, to tour and see the sites. I took my brother to school one day with me and then we had lunch with my class, which was great. All of my classmates wanted to meet my family so it was great to finally introduce them.
One of the best experiences was dinner at my house one Saturday night. It was a confusing at first since my family doesn’t know Turkish and my host family doesn’t know English, but as time went on things got more relaxed. It was truly enjoyable because my family got to experience traditional Turkish culture and see what I encounter all the time while being with people that are so special to me.
In the month of April all scattered around I also went to neighbor’s and relatives’ houses multiple times a week. My host mom wants to introduce me to her friends since she talks about me too them, so I went along with her and my host sisters quite often. I also rolled a lot of dolmas (stuffed grape leaves) which you can see pictures below
I participated in a TÖMER knowledge competition against other non-Turks. And went on a picnic with the language school.