The thoughts that occurred to me the most were connected to the idea of being home. I have always heard from my parents and other members of my family about what it was like living in a third world country. Since I was born and raised in Seattle, the things I was able to witness in Istanbul sounded a lot like what I have heard. I feel like this helped me connect to Istanbul in a way that other people in our group were not able to. Although Turkey has a past that is largely different than Eritrea, I thought a lot also about the history of migration and how that plays into identity formation, since I am also the child of refugees fleeing their home country in a time of political instability to escape war and poverty. Even though I felt a connection, there were also many ways in which I felt like I didn’t belong. Although I come from what can be considered a third world family, I was unable to communicate with the people I felt connected to, since I could only speak English, I was only viewed as an American tourist, not they could relate to.
From all of the pictures I have taken so far on this trip, there have been a few that have elicited a stronger emotional response from me than some of the other pictures I have taken. The sixth picture and seventh pictures were taken in the same location on the same day, within five minutes of each other. To me, they show both the beauty and rich history of Istanbul, but also all of the problems that people in the city face.
In the first picture, a beautiful sunset with a lot of very picturesque buildings in the background is visible, where in the other picture, all that can be seen is what looks like garbage, even though I only had to turn 45 degrees and sit down to take the second picture from where I was standing to take the first picture.
In all of the lectures, we have discussed how long Istanbul has been around, and how much it has been able to contribute to the world, and all of the beautiful buildings and the history behind them that long surpasses any of the buildings we would be able to see in Seattle or anywhere in the United States. We have also discussed and visited the parts of Istanbul that are not as pretty, and the struggles of people we see trying to survive.
One thing about this that sticks out to me the most is the idea that people are escaping other parts of Turkey to live in Istanbul, so even if we think the conditions in Istanbul are unlivable according to our American standards, the conditions that some of these people came from were much worse than what we saw in Istanbul. These common themes from all of the lectures we participated in while in Istanbul were captured to me through these two pictures.