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Fall 2009
Special Edition Vol. 2 of 5

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Adventures in Eurasia

May 2009 cross cultural trip to Turkey

courtesy of Professor Michael R. Cosby

The group at the acropolis of Assos, with its harbor on the Aegean Sea in the background. Paul visited Assos on his 3rd Missionary Journey (Acts 20:13).

Students talk Turkey


On May 26, we flew with 15 adventurous students to Istanbul, Turkey. Their initial nervousness at entering an Islamic country gave way to enthusiastic appreciation for Turkey and its people. By the time we flew home on June 15, the students all wanted to return to Turkey in the future.

This cross-cultural course allowed us to explore world-class archaeological sites and museums. We visited the ruins of some of the cities of the seven churches of Revelation 2–3. We sat in the huge theater in Ephesus, trying to imagine the riot there, caused by Paul’s preaching. We marveled at the architectural genius of those who built the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. We descended into the intricate tunnels and rooms of the underground city at Derinkuyu, Cappadocia, carved out of solid rock by early Christians seeking safety from persecution.

We also encountered modern Turkey, walking through open-air markets, interacting with students and faculty at two universities, getting a crash course on Turkish cooking from an amazing cook at Sirence, visiting a small church attended by bold believers, and witnessed a dance of Whirling Dervishes. In the city of Izmir, by the Aegean Sea, students spent three nights in the homes of Turkish host families, whose hospitality provided a highlight of the trip.

We had a great experience with this fine group of students and were proud – but not surprised – that our guide, Cenk, called them angels.

—Mike and Lynne Cosby

(Michael is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Messiah College)

Click here to see photos from the trip

Student Reflections

Brittney Johnston








Brittney Johnston '10

major: Elementary and Special Education

hometown: Simsbury, Connecticut

For a moment I thought that I was on vacation; the breeze blowing through my wave-tossed curls, droplets of ocean beginning to dry on my skin as I basked on a mattress overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Somehow this didn’t feel like a college course. And it especially did not feel like Turkey. Turkey, I kept repeating to myself, I am in Turkey. Of all places in the world, I wake up every morning in Turkey. This was far from the middle-eastern country I had imagined. It was far from the image most people envisioned when I told them where I was headed for the first three weeks of my summer.

Turkey?!  People would gasp, and turning to my mother they’d cry with wide-eyes, You’re letting her go to Turkey?? I had better expectations for Turkey than most of the people I encountered did as we discussed the dangerous middle-eastern world. Be careful was the phrase I heard most often as I left conversations, and tied for second was Oh, I would never have picked a place like that and I’ll be praying for you.

The Amish cross-cultural would have been cheaper and closer to home, my mom sighed as we began packing my suitcase. And after hearing others discuss the “danger” I was throwing myself into, I began to feel a little less peaceful about the trip I had chosen. But I had resolved in my mind that I wanted to go somewhere that I might never be able to go again; somewhere different and new and exciting and Turkey was it.

From my minimal knowledge of this region of the world and politics in general I was quite unsure of what to expect as I stepped off the plane and onto Turkish soil. Having read Crescent and Star (Kinzer, 2008), my ideas and knowledge of the land I was going to live in for the next few weeks grew more and peaked my interest in the people and the sites that I was going to see. Living a life of luxury under a white umbrella and a cloudless blue sky was not even close to what I had expected. Before this trip, if you had asked me to paint you a picture of Turkey, I might have given you an image of a village, dirt roads. I had pictured the majority of the people wearing traditional clothing, the women in head-coverings. Living in Turkey for those twenty days, however, changed my view of the country entirely. It made me disappointed in those who warned me against the “evil” I would encounter. Of course I knew I had to be careful, but some people just had awful stereotypes of Turkish people. I was disappointed in myself for beginning to believe them.

What did I glean from my travels in Turkey? I gained greater knowledge in ancient Biblical sites, and a new respect for the apostle Paul. I learned that it’s always better to sit sipping apple tea and enjoying other’s company. I figured out that knowing your past is key to finding what lies ahead for your future. And that passion, whether for your soccer team or your religion, is essential.


Colin Riddle

— Colin Riddle '11

major: History with social studies certification

hometown: Severn, Maryland

My most memorable experience was my home stay with Huseyin and Bahar in Izmir. I was instantly mesmerized by their large house, and they led Max and me to our room where we would be staying. The first night in their house we were treated to a well-prepared Turkish dinner. After we gave the family our home stay gifts, Max and I started to talk with Huseyin about three volatile areas of Turkish public discourse: sports, religion and politics. We talked the next three nights about a wide variety of topics (Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkish military service, United States presidents, economic matters, etc). Max and I learned how Huseyin`s secular Turkish viewpoint influenced the way he saw multiple aspects of Turkish society, including international policies. I learned from conversations with Huseyin that open-ended dialogue with people from other cultures helps one to be more aware of the world. I learned so much from my interactions with him and am a better person because of it.



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