During October’s Bayram celebration, NSLI-Y students joined their host families in activities with revered cultural symbolism. Students learned about the significance of these rituals from their host families and participated in the festival with open minds. One of the Bayram Islamic traditions involves the observance of the story of Abraham’s sacrifices by preparing meat for the less fortunate. Although it was easy for them to identify the cultural differences, the Bayram celebration connected the students with the shared values of family, charity, and community.
Bayram was a great new experience I learned a lot from, and I saw many traditions I would like to carry back to the States. On the first day of Bayram, we woke up before sunrise and drove to Samsun’s neighboring city, Ordu. There was a small facility where animals were sacrificed. We returned home with about ten bags containing meat which is now in our fridge as well as our neighbor’s! We will distribute the meat to people in our community who are less fortunate. Another day of Bayram, I went with my host family to several houses to visit all of their relatives. At the end of the day I had met about 30 new people, used cologne on my hands from about five bottles and ate about ten pieces of lokum, a treat particular to Bayram. The relatives I met are valuable connections to the Turkish culture, and I have realized that participating in culture is when you learn the most of their language, individual personalities, and personal views. Summing up, living Bayram was a leap forward in my understanding regarding Turkey’s important cultural aspects, and by drawing from that, it will help me in my efforts to contribute to better intercultural relations and a more peaceful world.
-Heber, NSLI-Y Turkey, Academic Year 2013-2014
My family and I visited the city cemetery on Bayram. We brought small plants and planted them in the ground above their dead relatives, and my host mother said a prayer at each grave. Afterwards we visited relatives in a series of apartments where we were all offered desserts, and then we went to a friend’s summer house and ate the meat of a lamb slaughtered that day. Also while driving around Samsun we saw many animals being slaughtered and butchered along the streets on the outskirts. It was a very eye opening experience that further highlighted our cultural differences, but also highlighted the beauty of the Turkish culture. Family is such an important part of their lives and it was especially evident that day.
-Amanda Zink, NSLI-Y Turkey, Academic Year 2013-2014
Over Bayram, I went with my host family to Adana. Our extended family lives there, and I met my grandmother, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I watched, and even helped a little, as my family sacrificed three goats for the holiday, in commemoration of Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of Isaac, or, in Muslim trope, Ishmael. We then ate goat for four days. Additionally, I visited the largest mosque in Adana and made stops in a small Turkish village and at Cappadocia. I have now seen underground cities, helped to inflate a goat to separate its skin from its flesh, eaten on a rug, and been warmly welcomed into families of different backgrounds.
-Imogen Page, NSLI-Y Turkey, Academic Year 2013-2014