On April 16, Turkish immigrants Eda Bozdemir and Sema Duygu Deger visited psychology teacher Michelle Semancik’s classes to share their culture during the classes’ culture and gender unit.
Semancik thought that having her classes learn about a specific culture firsthand from Bozdemir and Deger, who are friends of the Semancik family, would be a great way to start the unit. “I thought it would be nice for students to see how culture is different in another part of the world,” Semancik said. “Culture is important because it influences a person’s attitude and behavior.”
Bozdemir and Deger talked about various aspects of Turkish culture, including landmarks, art techniques such as water marbling, popular sports like oil wrestling and soccer, types of food, and traditional holidays and religions. In addition, Bozdemir performed two traditional Turkish songs on the ney, a Middle Eastern flute.
“I thought the water marbling technique was interesting,” junior Melissa Scheidler said. “I think the thing that surprised me the most was that Turkey is a democracy and that their government is so similar to ours.”
Junior Maddie Sorensen was also surprised that Turkey had some similarities to America. However, she was mostly intrigued by the ney performance. “The musical performance was amazing,” Sorensen said. “It was cool to see the different types of instruments that are common in different cultures.”
Bozdemir and Deger have noticed many differences in American culture from Turkish culture. One of the first things Deger noticed when she came to America was that everyone greets each other. “In Turkey, if I said ‘hello’ to a man, he might think I’m flirting with him,” Deger said. “Here, everyone greets each other. It’s a big cultural difference.”
Cultural differences that Bozdemir observed include house pets being common in America and the college entrance process being very different. “Turkish University is very competitive,” Bozdemir said. “All students who want to go to University take an entrance exam and only one fourth pass. If they pass, it is easy to get an education. They only have to pay a couple hundred dollars to go.”
Bozdemir and Deger agree that they are glad that they moved to America. Since they each made the move for more educational opportunities, they have been immersed in America’s ‘melting pot’ of cultures. They like the mixture of nationalities and think that America has an abundance of opportunities to learn about different cultures.