Monday, November 5, 2012

Where Are They Now?: Westmont in Istanbul Edition

It has been a long and eventful 6 months since we returned from our incredible journey.

On May 1st at 1AM the Westmont in Istanbul program set out on our last bus ride together.
We piled into the bus a quiet, and groggy, group. We parked outside of Ben Gurion airport and collectively stared up at the Departures board.

As the finality of the morning began to set in, tearful goodbyes were said. We started parting ways as students headed back to the States, the professors journeyed to Egypt for some time with old friends and well-deserved relaxation, and the program assistants stayed on in Israel for a few much needed days on the beach.

After a summer apart filled with growing pains - How is it that one accurately portrays what they've experienced? Is there a good way to answer the question, "What was your favorite part?" Trying to judge just how much to talk about Turkey. Figuring out what it is like to now be Skyping with friends back East...instead of back West - we were reunited upon the hills of Montecito at Jim and Heather's beautiful new home.

Today, Westmont in Istanbul is brought up often, and with it come bright memories of Turkish nights, Bedouin days, and Israeli mornings. Many conversations start with "Oh man, remember that time we..." and end in uproarious laughter. It is not uncommon for you to hear Turkish as you walk through the Westmont Dining Commons (although it's usually something simple like "I could really go for a Tavuk Döner right now" or "I have a test in 10 minutes. Where is some Türk kahvesi when you need it?" or "Look, here's what it comes down to: Fenerbahçe is just better than Galatasaray". [That last one is still up for debate]).

Part of the group now meets on Wednesday nights in a re-entry class as a means of trying to address those growing pains. We are looking at what it means to take those many amazing memories and impart them into our daily Santa Barbaran lives.

We are eagerly looking forward to Westmont in Istanbul 2014:
A whole new generation of Westmonters who are excited about the crossroads of East and West; who have explored the bridge between Asia, Europe, and the Middle East; who have explored the interactions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity; who have dance the dance of Modernity and Tradition, and who have tried to figure out what it means to bring Westmont to Istanbul, and then Istanbul to Westmont?

Well, that sounds çok güzel to us...