Just wanted to post an incredibly interesting and pertinent article about relations between Armenia and Turkey, that was written in the Wall Street Journal today.
Check it out Here.
A lot of people who find and read my website are those who search about Armenians, and I wanted to give a bit of information on relations between Armenians and Turks. First off, I would like to say that I am Armenian and my own great-grandmother and her family (and my great-grandfather) fled from Anatolia right before 1915 to the United States, and our family has passed down stories of the atrocities that happened there (this is stating my biases). I have traveled to Turkey and Armenia, and I did a research project in Turkey on the way the events of 1915 are viewed there (I say ‘the events of 1915’ to try to remain as unbiased as possible, even though I am part of the Armenian Diaspora), as well as the effects it has on Armenians in Turkey and Armenians in Armenia. I feel that this article is very interesting considering the research I have done, and I want to deconstruct it a little.
Personally I am shocked that it passed, and the reason why it did. I thought that Turkey wouldn’t agree to open borders with Armenia unless they negotiated the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan (For those who know little about this, in 1993 Armenia invaded Azerbaijan and took a large chunk of land where many Armenians lived. Consequently, relations between Azeris and Armenians are downright poisonous). Turkey closed borders with Armenia in 1993 because of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in solidarity with Azerbaijan. Why did they do this? One, Azerbaijan is a Muslim country. Two, Azerbaijan is an oil-wealthy country that has a direct pipeline to Turkey.
However, Turkey DROPPED the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia and the bill is set to sign on October 10th. Why they dropped the conflict from the bill, I don’t know, but I would be really interested to find out. Another thing that stood out to me in the article is that there is a general backlash from the Armenian Diaspora for this bill to be passed, and I don’t quite understand why. I can see that they make the arguement that Turkey could use this as a way to undermine the Armenian genocide- but overwhelmingly, I feel that this is a very good thing. The economy in Armenia will boom and prices for Armenians will drastically lower from imports, and it will also create jobs for many Armenians who would want to work in Turkey. It would also generally greatly improve relations between Armenians (in Armenia and Turkey) with Turks, maybe not immediately, but over time. However, it also seems that there are Armenians in Armenia that are unhappy with the bill, which is a whole different issue. I have no way to see the bill and what it entails (I wish I could), but maybe there is something a bit fishy going on here.
There is also a much larger issue here which is not being focused on. Turkey says that they plan to work on the Armenian genocide issue by jointly reviewing the events of 1915. This says to me that Turkey and Armenia would therefore be determining and working together on the events of 1915. What I take issue with here is that the Armenian Diaspora is not included in this committee, which is a key figure as most of the Armenians who were AFFECTED by the events of 1915 fled to other countries like Europe and the US, which is why there IS an Armenian Diaspora. To not take their accounts and opinions into consideration is a red flag for me, and something that should seriously be discussed. To be fair, I know that the Armenian Diaspora will probably put an enormous amount of pressure on Armenia to uphold the word ‘genocide’ in their commission with Turkey. However, I am afraid that Armenia will do what’s best for Armenia and not necessarily the Armenian Diaspora, the ones who were most affected by it.
Another issue I’d like to address are all of the Armenian monuments and artifacts in SouthEastern Turkey that are not properly taken care of; cities that were once key Armenian cities that are now in Turkey; and Mount Ararat, the mountain that is so revered by Armenians, that also lies in Turkey. What about the slander that the Turkish government use against the Armenians in their school textbooks? What about the way they approach the issue of 1915 and what they tell to their students? These are all things that Armenia needs to resolve with Turkey, and I dearly hope that they will continue to bring these up. While this is a big step for Armenian-Turkish relations and generally a positive thing in many ways, I hope that it will not end here and that all parties will continue to try to make progress for both countries.
Brittany Boroian (gotta wave the Armenian flag here- most Armenian names end in ‘ian’ and mine is no exception).
Filed under: Turkey
What do I have to show for it?
192 pages/80,468 words of written work.
Eight people who know me better than I know myself.
I am finished with my portfolio. I am finished with this exhausting, overwhelming, challenging, and absolutely amazing and unforgettable year.
It is 4:07 AM in Istanbul and I am sitting in my room crying, because it just hit me that tomorrow is the last day of CRC, and after spending the entire day retyping up our schedules for the entire year, writing a final integrative essay about how much I’ve grown and changed since September, and listening to oral presentations today about everyone else’s experiences, suddenly, I never want this to end.
Filed under: Turkey
This is quite possibly one of the best pictures I have EVER taken. Jeff, Heidi, and Rachel outside of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul… I am using this picture to simulate the frustration I am feeling of not ever going outside because of so much work I have to do!
Well everyone is telling me to update my blog, but frankly I don’t have too much to update about. I’ve spent the past two weeks essentially locked in a room trying to get my papers and portfolio done for the CRC program. I wrote one long 9,000 word paper on my trip to Harput, and I’m currently in the middle of another long paper about whether the Armenian genocide bill should be passed in the US and what repercussions that would have for Armenians in the Middle East. Lots of research, lots of time consuming work, lots of taking breaks and watching movies in between. Whoever decided to make the ‘rent’ option for movies on iTunes is a genius. I had the great fortune to watch Hotel Rwanda, which was recommended by my amazing Carpe Diem leader Aleta (she is currently on a trip with some students to Tanzania/Uganda/Rwanda). It is a movie about the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and one man who hid over 1,000 Tutsi refugees in his hotel. Amazing. Absolutely amazing movie. This is the second movie I have ever cried to. I highly suggest you rent this movie. Another amazing movie I’ve watched is Water, a film about widows in India. This movie is set in the 1930’s, but truthfully this is much of what Varanasi looks like today. The imagery, the music, the language… if you want to see the cultural life in India, as well as seeing the hardships many Indian widows suffer even today, this is a great movie to watch.
Actually, truthfully I’m updating to pimp out this amazing new web site I’ve stumbled upon (thanks Lizzie Burrows), called Free Rice, a web site which exercises your brain while helping end world hunger. They have all kinds of different subjects, (Art, Chemistry, English, Geography, Language Learning, Math), and they are all at different levels. With every question you get correct, 10 grains of rice is donated. So if you’re bored and feel like brushing up your world capitals, or learning basic words in French, or want to practice for those SATs with some vocabulary, then this is the perfect site for you, because not only are you educating yourself, but you are also feeding the world’s hungriest people. I think that this web site is an amazing and innovative concept, with tremendous results. Since 2007 over 63 billion grains of rice has been donated!!
So that is my update for the day friends. I hope that you are happy and healthy and whenever you feel down, just look up to the sky and smile, and be thankful that you’re not stuck in the middle of the most amazing city writing papers instead of enjoying the beautiful day outside. Just kidding. I go out sometimes to get food. Just kidding again. I know I am amazingly lucky.
Filed under: Turkey
So here I am, typing away on the new web site… it’s quite a bit surreal, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. I know you’ll all be proud of me when I tell you I’ve spent the past day uploading a million things on here instead of doing the towering mound of papers and work that’s due for the CRC program in a mere week and a half.
Speaking of work, Istanbul is quite possibly the worst place on earth to do it. And our professor, Heidi, is intent on our group (that disbands in two weeks) having the best experiences here while trying to compile a year’s worth of work into one portfolio. And by ‘best,’ I mean, ‘strangest.’ For example, in Thailand Heidi decided it would be an informative and educational experience for our group to visit a town meeting in Chiang Mai. We sat there for three hours while everyone talked in Thai.
So as much as we’ve teased her for it, we unfortunately (for Heidi, not us) redoubled our torments on her last night when she had the bright idea of taking us to see a ‘music documentary,’ with the vague promise that there would be some sort of ‘live flesh’ (belly dancing). After a quick drink at the pub (Yes, we go out drinking with our professors… welcome to Global College), we traipsed on over to what looked like a shiny cinema. We expected we were going into a movie theater… I even brought my glasses. Instead, what we entered was something akin to a rave bar, with a whole slew of awkward Turkish people in their leather get-ups, doing kamikazes and shamelessly trying to belly-dance. There was something that seemed to resemble a stage in the front of the bar, and a whole bunch of projections on all of the walls of some belly dancing movies of the past. Meanwhile, a DJ blasted music completely out of time with the ‘documentaries.’
“….When is it starting?” We asked Heidi.
Heidi shrugged her shoulders. “I….think this is it…”
Going to a bar and hanging out for almost two hours when approximately 99% of the people there don’t speak English, is a fun time. Going out to a bar as college students when shots are 10 Lira apiece (about six dollars), is also, quite a fun time.
By mid night we were all ready to leave. Fortunately, this is when the ‘show’ started.
All of a sudden, a man walked on stage, and everyone went nuts. This man was wearing a golden tassled brassiere on his head with a matching cape, dark sunglasses, superman pants, and four inch black boots. He waltzed on over to the DJ booth, and took out a ‘special CD.’
Then a belly dancer miraculously appeared on stage. The music started and it was beautiful, sensual, the woman danced slowly and provocatively, and meanwhile, two strangers pressed up next to me, stared deeply into each others eyes, and proceeded to make out for the rest of the set.
The show was mildly interesting… until the man with the brassiere for a hat decided to start erratically coughing into the microphone, banging sistrums against his head, and swaying to and fro in what he hoped to be sensual with the two belly dancers, but really looked…strange. It was by far the weirdest thing I have EVER seen. Jeff and I were laughing so hard we almost knocked over the two groping strangers.
ANYWAY, it was a beautiful night. I didn’t get any work done (surprise, surprise), I watched a man with four inch heeled boots hit himself with random things, I ate Midye Dolmasi at the fish market on the way home (Midye Dolmasi are mussels stuffed with rice… mmmmm…), and we all screamed the Happy Birthday song at the top of our lungs to Howard, who is 24 today, in the middle of Taksim square at 2 AM. I contemplated buying him a chicken mask. But I probably should have just gotten him one of those jaw-dropping amazing tiny baby hookahs. I saw.
Istanbul is amazing. It is the most beautiful, fun, and vibrant city I’ve ever been to. I highly recommend it to everyone I know. Especially if you like leather, or boots, or both of those combined together.
Filed under: Turkey
This is originally from my previous facebook group ‘Brittany Goes Global,’ (wanna know how I got the blog name? ;)) in which I sent messages to friends about my travels with Global College’s CRC Program through Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey. This post was not originally associated with this blog, but I have put it up here in the correct date. As you can see, my writing is not quite up to par with what it is now 🙂 But I thought you readers would still find it informative and entertaining.
Everyone said Konya, Turkey would be horrible, mostly because it is the most conservative town. This is not the case in the slightest. We are staying at the Dervish Brothers Center in Konya, the most amazing hotel ever. It is basically a large and cozy Sufi house. There is one huge room which Amy dubbed ‘The Persian lair,’ which is covered from head to toe with Persian carpets. Everyone lounges around there during the day and we take our meals there, the most delicious food I’ve eaten in Turkey- meats and Pides and salads and all kinds of delicious teas and breads… Oh Turkey, I love you so! It is a very magical place here. Not to mention that our bedrooms are incredibly cozy, and I’ve found one more hilarious perk to traveling- the closets in our rooms have literally been converted into bathrooms. Yes, you open the closet door, and there is a toilet and shower curtain in it. Rachel likes to just hang out in the closet-bathroom, waving and smiling at me as she pees.
The amazing Persian lair
Rachel’s new preference of using the bathroom
There is another resident at our hotel by the name of Daryoosh, and he is an AMAZING daf player. He’s been playing daf for 20 years and he tours around the world, and last night he gave us an impromptu concert that reduced my brain to ooze out of my ears. Unfortunately he doesn’t speak English that well, but when I mentioned “Houman Pourmehdi,” a daf player at CalArts, he completely perked up. I subsequently burned him a copy of “Hands On’semble” (an amazing drumming group consisting of four of my teachers at CalArts) and he went ballistic over it.
Another amazing aspect of this hotel: WIRELESS. FINALLY. I haven’t enjoyed wireless internet in my bed since Thailand… so I’ve been super, super productive with my time the past day and I’ve done an impossibly large amount of work that I needed to do. I’m currently working on my Armenian papers, applying to an internship with International Campaign for Tibet for this fall, setting down the dates for my Europe trip in May and the Grameen Internship in June, doing schoolwork, and just…getting all of my stuff together. I am in a completely magical place in my life, in the middle of Turkey. I love it.
I hope all of you are having a life as amazing as mine is. One thing I’ve realized is that in the past 8 months, I have not been bored ONCE. This might be because I have to balance traveling, writing papers, living with 9 people in close quarters, and trying to have a social life- but the point is, I’m so glad I always have something to do.
Last night, Lizzie looked at a picture of me that was taken last summer right before the CRC trip. She says I look as if I’ve aged 6 years since then. I think I look older too. I feel older. This insane 9-month long journey with 9 other people is coming to an end in one month. One. month. I don’t know what will happen to me after that. Except I am going to Armenia. And England. And France. And Switzerland. And Italy. And back to Nepal. And Bangladesh. And India again. And then, I finally come home.