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May 10, 2012, Thursday

Assessments, assignments and announcements

Exchanging ideas and experiences is a great resource tool for newcomers to Turkey. Here are some helpful comments and hints from Today’s Zaman readers.

Ken wrote this about my piece “Saving face in the workplace” (April 20, 2012).

Dear Charlotte: An excellent assessment of possible cultural differences between Turks and “westerners.” After three or four incidents with other residents in my immediate area, I finally discovered the reason for what I had perceived to be a sudden coolness in their attitude towards me: My landlord, who lives nearby, had been telling the neighbors that I had complained about noise from their TV at night, slamming doors or loud talk from their balcony, and recently someone’s trash can placed too near the building’s entrance. I was aware of these minor transgressions but had said nothing. Now it came to light that my landlord had told them that I had complained to him when in fact his mother, who lives in the apartment above me, had initiated the complaints by telling her son to notify the offending parties. I was the scapegoat to keep the peace between them and their neighbors. Of course this can happen anywhere -- it’s a human thing. However, when I tell the story to my Turkish friends they assure me it’s very common to assign any type of blame to others -- especially those outside the circle of family and friends. Some consider this a display of loyalty to ones own; others look upon it as “blinded loyalty” with its inherent dangers. From: Ken

Here is a comment from a Turk who is an instructor and assigns his students Today’s Zaman to read. In his letter to me, he includes some thought-provoking questions from his students. My two-part piece, “Turkey and its role in the 21st century” (April 25, 2012), received a variety of comments, including the email from Uğur Altıntaş of the American Cultural Association in Kırıkkale.

Dear Ms. Charlotte McPherson: I am writing this email to inform you about my English course in American Cultural Association Language School’s Kırıkkale Branch (Turkey). The thing about you in this case is that in one of my groups I am working on one of your writings entitled “Turkey and its role in the 21st century (1).” I have asked them to write some reaction/response to your piece. Below I noted a couple of the sentences that I collected from their assignment submissions. They were very good at understanding the issues you stated and, when asked, they reacted very positively towards your thoughts. As a result, I just wanted to let you know about this, as, in my opinion, you are one of the two active parts of that assignment, while the students being the other, and me the passive element. Our institution has a subscription to Today’s Zaman daily, and I am planning to continue to get some reactions on your future articles in Today’s Zaman. ... Thanks for providing us with such amazing ideas and language-use styles.

Here are the questions from my students:

“In my opinion Arab Spring is a game of Western States being played upon Arab States to get their oil reserves under control...” N. Gezer

“I think Turkey is a good model for the Arab States; because it is a democratic and secular state.” T. Korkmaz

“All those Arab Spring movements were motivated by the Western governments and those people were taken as toys by those governments.” E. Baytemur

Here is a tip I recently received for anyone moving to or from İstanbul.

Hi Charlotte: Thanks for your kind reply. Now that I have witnessed that you are a columnist valuing readers’ opinions, I may be mailing you some comments from this day on. I’m aiming to set up a closed platform for and within the expat community in İstanbul to sell/buy second-hand stuff, eliminating the risk of being ripped off and crashing into local stalkers and frauds. Since I’m trying to build a group on Facebook for an inter-expat platform, I thought that in order to draw the attention of as many expats as possible, simply mentioning “Expat’s Saver @Istanbul,” our group’s name, in your column could boost the number of members. The group is now active. If you decide to do so, I would be more than delighted. From: Josh

Thanks for your notes! It is always good to pass on helpful information and experiences and give a few students some practice! Keep the letters coming!

Note: Charlotte McPherson is the author of “Culture Smart: Turkey” 2005. Please keep your questions and observations coming: I want to ensure this column is a help to you, Today’s Zaman’s readers. Email: [email protected]

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