There were absolutley NO problems on this trip!
I am pretty certain that I reflect the entire groups feelings when I say that this was one of the best travel experiences I have ever had. The group remained cohesive to the end. On the last night in Istanbul we went to a place recommended by Carlos, tour guide to the gods. His friend Edi ( I am guessing at the spelling) served a fabulous meal and ended it with apple tea on the house. It could not have been a more fitting end.
I walked around the area of Taksim Square on my last day and savored every bit of this wonderful culture.
I have come away convinced that Turkey is THE role model for how to blend east and west, secularism and religion, modernity and history and approach the future where global communications will bring all the continents together (as Istanbul has joined Asia and Europe).
On the plane I read an English language Turkish newspaper, "Today's Zaman" ( I am not sure if there is a pun in there about "Today's Man") and was thrilled to read about the Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey who was interviewed in a full page article. I had planned to use Turkey and Ukraine (both of which I visited with WAC in the last two years) as a comparison for my International Studies students to use in addressing these issues of east v. west, etc.
Well the ambassador, Dr. Olexandr Miscehenko said exactly what I think needs to be said about Turkey. It is a role model. His PhD thesis dealt with the transition from Ottoman empire to republicanism in Turkey. He sees the Ukraine facing that exact situation in post Soviet empire evolution.
I am excited about the return to the US and the classroom to explore these matters. I wish to thank the Okumus family, the members of TAFSUS and WAC for giving me this amazing opportunity. Above all, I want to thank the wonderful people of Turkey who have given me great hope for the future of the global community.
Best wishes to all, Joe Selfridge