Hello Istanbul

Goodbye Slovenia, hello International Mystery City #3: Istanbul Turkey. And congratulations to Hiro Schneider for guessing our location correctly. The photo you saw last entry was my wife and I at the Bosphorus Strait, the only access from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. That geographical fact has kept Istanbul as one of the most significant cities in the world. Throughout history, any person, any product, any idea that wanted to make its way from East to West had to pass through Istanbul. Many still do, and we’ve come to experience it all. Our team of two Gonzaga students and two Slovenian students arrived at noon today (that’s 10pm yesterday Gonzaga Standard Time). After a quick nap, we met for dinner at Restaurant Saraj, right across the narrow street from our hotel.

Our waiter, Hamdin, third from the left, was nice enough to give us a language lesson after we ate. Tomorrow, I’ll test the students on the basic Turkish they need to know: ‘hello’, ‘please’, ‘thank you’. Any cultural exchange ought to include a bit of the host country’s native tongue. Hamdin was such a character we decided to present him with a special award: the GUTV Lanyard of the Day. We just might give one to the most interesting person we meet here each day of our stay. Tomorrow, that person might just live in Asia.

Matt Wintheiser awards GUTV's 'Lanyard of the Day'

Istanbul sits on two continents. We’re staying on the European side. Tomorrow, we’re headed across the Bosphorus to visit the University of Istanbul and meet the Turkish students who will help us out for the next few days. They’ll serve as our guides and interpreters, but I’m really hoping they become our friends as well.

On to viewer comments and our trivia contest winner:

Hiro Schneider got the Mystery City right and a prize. Below is a pic of the shirt he wins. We’ll give another to the first person who can explain why we can’t upload video to YouTube here. Send your answer to profdan@gonzaga.edu and I promise your shirt will be cleaner than Hiro’s.

Limited edition 'Ask Prof Dan' shirt-priceless in any country

Patrick writes: “Congratulations on this timely experience. i continue to hope and pray such exchanges amongst fresh minds will lead to a more critial view of how we treat all of our brothers and sisters on this ever shrinking planet.” Thanks Patrick! Patrick is one of our sponsors. He runs the American branch of Eon Tours which is hosting us in Turkey (that means we don’t have to pay for a thing!)

Steven writes: “I love the blog! What a fantastic idea and a great way of showcasing to the world the importance and power of visual storytelling! That’s the great thing about utilizing the internet (or interwebs, which is a series ot tubes) the way that you guys are. Simply by posting a video, the world isn’t so big and scary, and we can connect with people halfway across the globe and hear their unique stories just by the click of a button. Your project can show viewers firsthand what it is like to interact with an entirely different culture.” Steven is a GUTV alum and one of our best!

Claire writes: “What’s up with the mustache Prof Dan? You look like Jafar from Aladdin.” That’s hurtful, yet accurate Claire. I was going for Kurt Russell in Tombstone and I get Disney?

Blue Mosque-a lasting testament of the Ottoman Empire's influence in Istanbul

I wanted to leave you with a reflection from my GU Broadcasting student Matt Wintheiser. This is his first trip abroad, and as we talked earlier this evening I was struck at how early and clearly his transformation is taking place. I asked him to write about his impressions.

“Its 10:00 p.m. here in Istanbul and the call to worship has just flooded the city again.  Although it is in a language I can’t understand, the call and response has hit me in a way that I am still trying to understand.Earlier this evening the Slovenian students, Fr. Peter, and I decided to explore the Blue Mosque literally a few blocks from our hotel.  As I stood in the center of the courtyard, an overwhelming sense of the world on my shoulders.  I felt like I was literally at the center.  Thinking about it, I am sitting where Europe ends, and Asia begins. One country over, my native country, the United States, is fighting one of the most controversial wars in history.  The most volatile part of the world is located a few countries over from that.  I am, essentially, at the gateway to one of the most unstable regions of the world. Yet, the Muslim people of Istanbul still gathered together at the Blue Mosque to pray together and worship their God, together. The dedication to prayer and the spirituality of this culture is overwhelming.  Despite the violence, poverty, and injustice that exist next door to Turkey, these people went about their day in worship and praise to their God.  It was incredible to see the woman stop whatever she was doing to pray in the courtyard.  I caught a glimpse into the sanctuary to see people bowing, kneeling, and reflecting in prayer.  Seeing the deep sense of faith in their religion was and is inspiring; it’s almost indescribable.   I’m literally at a place where religion, culture, and history comes clashing together.  Yet these people can still unite over one thing…their faith.  Being at the mosque reminded me to continue to work at my faith, because it can serve as a powerful relationship not only with what I believe in, but with thousands of other people as well.”

Time for us to hit the sack. We leave for Asia in 8 hours. If you’re in Spokane, and you’re up early enough, check out the KREM 2 morning show. We’re going to try to do a live phone interview with them around 6am Pacific Time. If you’re not in Spokane, you have my permission to sleep in. Goodnight!

  1. Molly’s avatar

    ok, wait. your waiter’s name was Hamdin? As in Ham Dinner? nice. Hope you’re all having fun and learning lots!

  2. Jessica Michaels’s avatar

    I read your blog with excitement and a bit of jealousy. If only Dan had come up with this brilliant idea when I was a student. In our increasingly global workplace, I think it paramount for visual storytellers to appreciate the connectedness of our world. While this project seems like a blast, the value of learning firsthand about the similarities in our cultures cannot be quantified. Not only are you sharing a valuable skill, but you are acting as ambassadors from the US and from Gonzaga. I’m sure the impression you are leaving is a great one.

    As a visual storyteller myself, I can attest to the importance of knowing and feeling comfortable using a wide range of mediums. Facebook, twitter, blogging, and traditional news websites are just a few of the mediums that I work on in addition to creating videos for daily newscasts. This project is giving students experience with the same tools they will be expected to master at any news organization throughout the country.

    Props to Gonzaga, Professor Dan, and the students who have taken the time to make this homework assignment a reality. I look forward to future installments!

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