After a long saga of swapping memory cards, lost and found flashdrives, hours of photo sorting to pass bus rides to Ankara, borrowing laptops for more days than intended, getting swept up in holidays and AFS activities and spending more time and effort overall than I’d like to admit (though what does it matter, I enjoyed it), I am ready to present the beginning of a series of photos from long ago excursions in and around Kayseri!
In the end of October four former AFS host moms from Antwerp, Belgium came to stay in our (mine, the two other YES girls in Kayseri and a family friend’s) houses for one week as part of the EVA Program. The EVA program is for European AFS host moms to go on a mini exchange to experience what it might be like to be an exchange student living in a different culture and in the home of a family that doesn’t speak the same language as them. This spring our host moms will likewise go to Belgium for a week.
Leen, Luce, Rita, and Linda came at a perfect time when we were just feeling settled in; hearing them speak Dutch to one another made me realize how comfortable I was with hearing Turkish even if I couldn’t understand all of it, (I can understand zero Dutch) and being a translator gave me a huge confidence boost in things I did know how to say (they also spoke English). Showing a guest around our home made me feel like I wasn’t just a guest anymore, but touring the city with them gave me an excuse to pull out my camera again and act like a tourist, rediscovering Kayseri a little. Our guest, Leen, noticed lots of things that I had noticed about the culture that I was proud to explain, but also new things that I had glazed over- you’re right, it is only men that you see riding bikes (unfortunately), people do eat fast, it is strange that my ten year old sister goes to school until 8pm a couple nights a week and to school on Saturdays, and wait, those three foot diameter heads of lettuce at the fruit stand I walk by everyday are huge.
Our host moms were really excited for the visit, and packed our days pretty full; we did a ton of stuff (as tourists and as insiders from connections with friends) and took a ton of pictures. Sometimes I got tired of pulling out my camera, or said (lets be honest, the usually huge self-lie of) “I’ll totally have to get those pictures from you later!” when I knew someone had a good shot of me. The day before our guests were to leave Rya and I decided to make that photo swapping a reality, and I made it my mission to hand pick the best possible photos to represent the week. After an embarassing two months and a comic relief tumblr that is the child of Hana usually refusing to smile and Rya always having sports-action-multi-shot-mode on, I’m finally almost finished.
By clicking on the above photo can find photo sets of the welcoming party when our guests arrived (and some food we made earlier that day), and our second day in wich we had breakfast at Hana’s house, had Turkish coffee fortunes read, visited the brand new school that our younger host siblings attend and saw a special Republic Day presentation by the students, visited the local TV and Radio station (where my host mom used to be a manager), and went out for tea at a beautiful garden overlooking the city. [And also some photos from much earlier when I first arrived]. I specify in the caption who I nabbed the photo from (with their permission), and unspecified ones were from my own camera.