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article imagePhoto Essay: Faces of Turkey Special

By Lonna Lisa Williams     Dec 27, 2012 in Travel
Istanbul - For almost two years I have lived and taught English in Turkey. I traveled from the north to the west to the south, taking photos of people I met, both friends and strangers. From children to students to older people, these are the faces of Turkey.
I couldn't find a teaching job in my native California, so I decided to teach overseas. First I spent six months in frozen Russia. Then I flew to Istanbul and was delighted to find sunshine, flowers, and smiling faces. After a short bus ride to Izmit, Kocaeli, I started teaching at a private language school. The students were sweet and eager to learn, and I took photos around Izmit, in places like bakeries, rug shops, and outside markets. I got a six-month contract teaching at Kocaeli University where I helped students practice speaking English. We often met outside at the cafeteria, but sometimes they would play games or tell jokes instead of doing classwork.
My students wanted a field trip to practice speaking with tourists, so we boarded the train at Izmit and rode to Istanbul where we toured the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia's, and Topkapi Palace. We found colorful vendors selling their goods, peaceful park settings, and tired tourists resting.
In the summer, I took a trip with one of my students to Chanakkale in the west of Turkey, near the Aegean Sea. She posed inside a stone alcove of the castle.
I traveled south to Alanya where my Turkish husband looked pensive in the castle by the sea. We rode up Castle Hill to find a boy minding the loom at a traditional, road-side market. An aunt posed with her baby niece, and an old woman sold slippers at the city center.
Further west in Antalya, I taught at a private language school and then at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University. In my free time, I explored the Old Castle section of the city, which is filled with cobblestone streets, ancient ruins, interesting shops, and tourists standing near a stormy sea.
Turkey is a land of contrasts. On one side of the street, you can see a new shopping mall. On the other, you can find an Ottoman cafe with lounging chairs, carpets, and hookahs. Some women wear turbans, and others dress in the modern way. Teaching English in Turkey was an amazing experience, and I will never forget the people I met on this journey.
Lonna Lisa Williams
You can see more travel adventures on my Blog, Facebook, Youtube, and in my books.
Two students pose beside a simit cart.
Two students pose beside a simit cart.
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A Turkish activist (boyfriend of one of my students) passes out fliers in Izmit.
A Turkish activist (boyfriend of one of my students) passes out fliers in Izmit.
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A gypsy woman requests help to sell her vegetables when her streetside marketplace was closed
A gypsy woman requests help to sell her vegetables when her streetside marketplace was closed
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A woman baker pauses for a photo inside a bakery
A woman baker pauses for a photo inside a bakery
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A rug merchant stands in the doorway of his shop in Izmit  Kocaeli
A rug merchant stands in the doorway of his shop in Izmit, Kocaeli
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A woman bakes bread in a traditional oven
A woman bakes bread in a traditional oven
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My students at Kocaeli University would sometimes meet me outside at the cafeteria
My students at Kocaeli University would sometimes meet me outside at the cafeteria
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Sometimes  instead of doing classwork  they would play games
Sometimes, instead of doing classwork, they would play games
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Female Turkish university students relax together  enjoying freedom to dress as they want
Female Turkish university students relax together, enjoying freedom to dress as they want
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My students board the train for Istanbul
My students board the train for Istanbul
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Dressed in traditional clothes  a boy sells ice cream in Istanbul
Dressed in traditional clothes, a boy sells ice cream in Istanbul
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A colorful man serves a traditional Turkish drink at Topkapi Palace
A colorful man serves a traditional Turkish drink at Topkapi Palace
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A costumed  sultan  offers photo ops near Saint Sophia Church
A costumed "sultan" offers photo ops near Saint Sophia Church
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A Muslim woman finds a quiet moment to read near the gates of Topkapi Palace
A Muslim woman finds a quiet moment to read near the gates of Topkapi Palace
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Some tired tourists pause by a fountain at Topkapi Palace
Some tired tourists pause by a fountain at Topkapi Palace
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A merchant stands near his  no photos  sign at a traditional plate shop in the Grand Bazaar
A merchant stands near his "no photos" sign at a traditional plate shop in the Grand Bazaar
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A student poses with a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in an Istanbul park
A student poses with a statue of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in an Istanbul park
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A student poses inside a stone alcove of the castle at Chanakkale
A student poses inside a stone alcove of the castle at Chanakkale
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My Turkish husband looks pensive as he pauses for a beer on the old Alanya castle walls by the sea
My Turkish husband looks pensive as he pauses for a beer on the old Alanya castle walls by the sea
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A boy minds the loom at a roadside market on top of Castle Hill
A boy minds the loom at a roadside market on top of Castle Hill
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A Turkish woman holds her baby niece
A Turkish woman holds her baby niece
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An old Turkish woman sells slippers at Starbucks in Alanya
An old Turkish woman sells slippers at Starbucks in Alanya
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One of my English classes at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University (can you find me?)
One of my English classes at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University (can you find me?)
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Some students would meet at a cafe to practice speaking English
Some students would meet at a cafe to practice speaking English
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My private language school students pose around my old computer
My private language school students pose around my old computer
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My students show and tell about their talents in sports and music
My students show and tell about their talents in sports and music
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Some Turkish teachers with whom I worked
Some Turkish teachers with whom I worked
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Two Turkish woman pause to chat near Hadrian s Gate
Two Turkish woman pause to chat near Hadrian's Gate
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A newly married couple pose in the Old Castle section of Antalya
A newly married couple pose in the Old Castle section of Antalya
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Glass blowers demonstrate their craft
Glass blowers demonstrate their craft
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Tourists stand near the lighthouse at the harbor entrance on a stormy Antalya day
Tourists stand near the lighthouse at the harbor entrance on a stormy Antalya day
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More about People of Turkey, Portraits, Students, traditional dress, Istanbul
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