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...

Istanbul is beautiful, stimulating and welcoming. From it, I’m taking sunlight and the seaside, bottomless cups of tea, sunsets, and ferry commutes. But more importantly, I’m taking a newfound sense of patience, presence and drive for journalism. To be reporter in Istanbul is to drop into the middle of the action, and to feel like you were never anywhere else. Journalism is alive here, and people put trust in writers to tell their stories. This is what surprised me the most — the complete openness and welcoming that I experienced with every person I sat down to have a conversation with, even when we couldn’t speak the same language.
by Tessa Love, Mills College, Istanbul Project 2014