…In search of bees…how many times have I finished a sentence with that phrase in the last three years. A Georgian man adorned in a bright and colorful ewok costume chases after me, whip in hand, while I pass through a traditional village in search of bees. I drive 8 hours over Azeri deserts brewing with mud volcanoes and cracked flowers, staring nauseously out the window, in search of bees. I fall to my knees before an ancient lake in Armenia, drinking holy water and silenced by its beauty, in search of bees. I float over flowing velvet green carpeted hill-sides in Eastern Turkey, the sounds of cowbells chorusing throughout the valley, in search of bees. I cry in a hospital, blowing my nose on sheep’s wool, wondering how so much could happen all for some great search for bees!
I am a foreigner.
I was born and raised in the US, I immigrated to Turkey when I was 21 and I have since fallen in love with the country and stayed. I worked hard to learn the language. When I arrived, though I couldn’t count to 10, I was placed in a classroom of people who had been studying for 3 years, because beginner Turkish was cancelled. There was not enough interest. Classes were from 9-1, I had private tutoring from 2-4, and I watched Turkish movies and rehearsed Turkish songs from 6-9 pm. It was nearly 12 hours of Turkish for over 6 months. I went through three schools, and on the weekends I sat and did homework with my boyfriend’s family, who kept a cautious eye and a bottomless bowl of fruit next to me at all times. Read the rest of this entry
It has been a year since we successfully completed our Kickstarter campaign. A year since we pitched Balyolu and won awards at two business plan competitions, and a year since we began venturing out into the field. And it recently dawned on me that this phrase, “a year,” means that Balyolu is almost officially past the big statistical survival hump.
Gamarjoba! We’re in Georgia, a country that feels tipsily young, energetic, inventive, and rebellious – an incredible feat considering that it’s one of the world’s oldest cultures and peoples (if you’ve met a Georgian before you know that Georgia boasts the world’s oldest wine as well as the oldest human remains outside of Africa). Read the rest of this entry