Faces of Istanbul – 2011

A computer scientist who decides to give up his days in the lab, to become a ferryboat captain on the meditative Bosphorus strait. The impish chef renowned for researching great Anatolian recipes of the past, and popularizing them with a modern twist. The feminist activist who spent years fighting for women’s rights, only to witness some of those rights compromised in an increasingly religious society.

These are just some of the faces of Istanbul. Their stories represent the diversity of ideas and personalities in a country known more for its rugs, mosques, and Turkish delight than for its ethnic influences, its struggles for balance between religious freedom and secular ties to the West, and its continuing march toward democracy.

University students in ieiMedia’s Istanbul Project sought out these stories, during a one-month international journalism program in Istanbul. Here they share their discoveries about the complexities, the beauty and the many personal triumphs of the people of Istanbul.

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Students Say...

Time. It took me until my encounter with Italy to appreciate the importance of time and pace. I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy the culture and people around me, connecting with them rather than sprinting through life in a blur. Urbino is a captivating town, from its rich history to its renaissance architecture to its bursts of green and mountainous views. Surprisingly, tourists are virtually nonexistent here and I wouldn’t have it otherwise. Making my way on the cobblestones everyday, familiarizing myself with the language (attempting to at least), and being adopted by the locals helped make this the growing experience I needed.
by Urvi Patel, James Madison University, Urbino Project 2014