Going out. This was what we did this week. Something different. Something we don’t do usually. Our aim was to asses the needs of “our” community. Maybe the situation is a little bit contradictory because we call the community we never talk, never communicate as our community. Therefore throughout this writing I won’t call them as our community but Arnavutköy community.
In our trip we divided into 4-5 groups which consisted of variety of people, walked around the Arnavutköy and visited the places in a normal, daily life attitude. We, with my friend Önder, visited a traditional soup place (işkembeci) and ate some meat. There were three people inside the place, two men which were both old and middle aged and there was a boy who was at our age. Through our conversation, we learned that the men working in the store were too old in Arnavutköy community, one was close to forty years and other middle aged one twenty. Like in many of the traditional talks in Turkey, our conversation came to the question of where are we from Turkey and the middle aged man was from the same city and even same county with my mother. After learning that our talking moved into a point which we were talking about the city of Istanbul and later to Arnavutköy specifically. The first thing I realized about the place was that there were both the photos of Ottoman Empire tughra and also the photos of Atatürk with near the big Turkey’s current flag. As later they started to talk about the community and their problem we realized that they weren’t complaining about any of the economic problems but they were complaining about the attitudes of people toward each other in all Istanbul. Like many of the old people they had issues a lot about new young generation having no respect and getting a lot away from their family. They later specifically complained about something Arnavutköy which they said Muslims are not respecting or even caring about the way Greek people live in Arnavutköy which they accept the fact that Arnavutköy in fact is the hometown of Greek people. It was at first interesting as I was expecting to hear them talking about economical problems more but even they accepted the difficulties they face financially they said as long as we are not hungry we care more about the human relations which affected me a lot.
In our trip, my friends and I went to the Greek Orthodox Church of Arnavutkoy, and visited the “muhtar.”
Firstly, we went to the church. Although there was a person that showed us the church, we weren’t able to gather much information about the neighborhood from him. Then, we decided to visit the muhtar, Sedef İrteş, as she would be the best person to tell us about the neighborhood and its needs. It turned out that we were right. She said that she had been in Arnavutkoy for 50 years, and that she was the muhtar for 17 years. This meant that people liked her, and she knew a lot about the neighborhood. She first gave us a little historical background of the neighborhood. She told us that there were people from many different ethnic backgrounds in the neighborhood, and that was the reason why there was this old church. When we asked about the people, she told us that even if the people of this neighborhood had good education, some lacked proper ethical education. She said that the biggest problem of the neighborhood was pollution. She gave an example she saw just a few days ago. She said that she saw two teenagers spitting their sunflower seed shells to the ground, and even though she warned them, the teenagers didn’t listen to her.
At the end, she told us that she was very happy to see us interested in the neighborhood and its problems. She told us that we were welcome to come anytime again.
First of all I want to say in the trip we had so much fun. At first we went to church, there was a person who showed us around; but unfortunately we couldn’t get much information about Arnavutköy. Afterwards, we decided to go to the muhtar of Arnavutköy, and I think we made a pretty good decision. She told us that she had been in Arnavutkoy for 50 years, and that she was the muhtar of Arnavuköy for 17 years. Also she was one of our friend’s aunt. After a while we talked about problems in Arnavutköy. She generally talked about education and how uneducated people act in the society. According to her the biggest problem of neighborhood is pollution. She gave us an example that she saw before which is two teenagers probably near to our age, spitting their sunflower seed shells to the ground, and even though she warned them, the teenagers didn’t listen to her. It was very nice to listen and talk with her. I’m glad that we had such an event that we can learn about people that are close to us.
I talked with a florist and a salesman. My observations made me aware of the people who live near by my house and their problems about the dead marketing in Arnavutköy. A good social entrepreneur should search and analyze the problems around him/her and this activity was the key to do this. I also realized that a social entrepreneur shouldn’t only stay in the office and create projects, a social entrepreneur should determine what is needed and what should he/she create. The salesman was suffering because of the shopping centers and therefore, lack of people on the streets. He said: “Nobody tends to go out in these days. They don’t want to do shopping from a store on the street, they want to do shopping in large shopping centers. And the funny thing is, our product is way better than them. (laughs)” The florist was also feeling the same way: “I don’t see people on the streets, people don’t see me! How can they smell my beautiful flowers then?”
While we were discovering the backstreets of Arnavutköy, an old looking shop attracted our attention. When we get into the the shop, we met with Canan abla, who is a furniture dealer. She was very kind to us and instinctively, a natural conversation started among us. After a while, she started sharing her problems with us. Years ago, she was able to make enough money but now she doesn’t have enough customers and that’s why she had to sell her house in Ortaköy and move to Göktürk. She said nowadays, people in Arnavutköy don’t really come by her shop. She emphasized the importance of education and said that we are the ones who are going to find solutions for the problems in Turkey. We also went to an art studio and met the owner of it. She was also very kind to us and said that she was so happy to be a part of an art studio. She mentioned how relaxing is being in there and she said running an art studio makes her happy a lot and she hasn’t got any problems. In fact, she was so energetic and cheerful. It was so nice to have an opportunity to also meet with a person who has good life conditions and happy with this. This motivated me and I wanted to help other people to also have good life conditions.
We started to walk on Arnavutköy streets to meet with someone that we can talk. We met an old man who has lived in Arnavutköy for fifty years. Our conversation’s starting point was a dog, but we ended up with the fish restaurants. He told us that Arnavutköy’s sea was much cleaner even ten years ago. He feels sorry for the pollution and the local folk think that the restaurants have poured all their trashes into the sea. Then we talked with a flower woman. She was complaining about money problems and she said “If we have enough money to buy bread, we thank God!”. I felt so sorry and I put my hand to get money to buy a bouquet of flowers. At that moment she started to smoking. I suddenly put my money back. These were the remarkable points from the Arnavutköy trip. I felt guilty for not having any idea of the problems in Arnavutköy where we live.
As I walked through the streets with my friend Mert, first of all I realized how hospitable Turkish community is, in general. As we entered different stores the people were greeting us happily and they weren’t reluctant at all when it came to talking about their problems. The biggest problem of all was that people working in stores couldn’t find place to park their car, since the location had tiny roads and lots of historical buildings. I really enjoyed the activity in general. Walking and talking with strangers became one of the memories that I will hold through out my life time.
On Monday, 14 of December, as Robert College Social Entrepreneurship Club we went to Arnavutköy to discover the struggles of folks. We went to back-alleys of Arnavutköy and talked to people about their life in Arnavutköy. When we were wondering around, we saw an old gentleman playing with a dog at the entrance of the market, waiting for its owner to finish her shopping. We started to play with the dog too, then we talked with the old gentleman. He said that he has been living here for 15 years and then he started to talk about his dog. Then the owner of the dog came out and she joined our conversation. Then, we saw a flower selling lady, who was sitting and waiting for customers. We asked her how things were going for her and she was really pessimistic about her life and she started to smoke. Seeing her cigarettes cut our conversation short and lead us to a different street in Arnavutköy. As a general overview Arnavutköy has many layers, when you look at it. At the seashore there are many cafes and fishers, and it is beautiful but it seemed more like a touristic area. Inside of Arnavutköy was much more crowded, moving with the daily life and it seemed more alive and real.
Today we were in Arnavutköy to talk to local people and listen their problems. Our aim was to share something with the tradesmen/artisans and make something different for both them and ourselves. Our group was a little bit crowded so we decided to divide into smaller groups to be more comfortable. My friends and I first talked to a man who was the owner of a fitting shop and he told us that the they were in a economic crisis because of the increase in American dollar. “The increase in dollar affected us directly because our stuff are from America. We are not in a good situation right know and this is same for all the small businesses around here and in Turkey.” Then we stopped by a florist and bought a couple of roses. The woman told us that “In the past everyone used to buy flowers for their valentines but now they have internet and they don’t come to us.” She was really sad about the situation and she thanked us a lot for talking about it.
As a result the spirit in the streets are not like the past times. Because of the chaos of the big cities we forget to communicate and share. We shouldn’t forget that a small conservation or a small shopping is enough to put a smile on people’s face.
It was my second time in Arnavutkoy hanging around and talking to the local people. Last year I had a film project in there where I had to film the cultural values in a specific area, and I had to choose Arnavutkoy because it was the closest. At the beginning of that project I assumed that it’s a rich area and there wouldn’t be any cultural aspects. That was because back then Arnavutkoy was sea, Bodrum Manti, fish restaurants and a link to Bebek to me. The film project was pretty successful, but this time I had the chance to ask about the people’s problems. At first we were kind of lost and didn’t know how the start the communication. I felt bad at the beginning because I thought no one would talk to us. Then I saw a beautiful dog in front of Bim and went playing with it. The man standing beside the dog started talking to us. We had a small nice talk with him. After that, we talked to a lady who was selling flowers. I asked her about some flowers and then “Teyze isler nasil gidiyor” She said they barely earn ekmek parasi; but while she was saying that she was smoking, which was kind of weird.
Today we travelled around Arnavutköy in order to see the issues that we can help the community with. After we visited a church, we met Sedef İrteş whose office was near. Sedef İrteş is the mukhtar of Arnavutköy for 17 years. She was a very nice woman and we had a very nice conversation with her. She talked about Arnavutköy’s history and the problems that are encountered. She told us that the biggest issue was the environmental pollution, and the heavy traffic. After this nice talk we thanked her and we went to the meeting place of our club and we had a short discussion on our different experiences.
Last monday, I’ve gone to Arnavutköy with club and I really enjoyed. We’ve talked to people, asked what they need and how is everthing going and we had different answers. The conversation I had with the stationarist was the most interesting one. He told me that he has lived his whole in Arnavutköy. He was friends with students and even teachers until they put wire fence between the place he lived and our school. He said that those wires were what ended his some friendships. So what I think is we shouldn’t have those wires, those people out there had done nothing bad to us and they won’t. They’re as good as us and maybe even better. They don’t have any bad feeling against us. We shouldn’t have those wires.
My pairs in Arnavutköy trip were Delal and Zeynep. At first, we had difficulties with deciding on which building to get in and whom to talk, but then a woman in her fifties working in a furnishing fabric store caught our attention. We got in and she welcomed us warmly. She asked politely “I know you’re students, what do you want?” so we explained her that we wanted to get to know Arnavutköy, and learn about the social problems in our community. She said okay and started to tell about herself. We learned that she had been working in the same store for 40 years and was living in Göktürk because sold her house in Ortaköy due to financial problems. As we expected, she also told about things related to politics. These are the sentences of hers that left with me: “Everyday I read 30 or 40 verses of Koran but I wear my bikinis and go to swimming as well. I don’t wear turban but I start everything with the name of Allah. Girls you should believe in Allah no matter what your religion is. And you should learn how to stand on your legs as young ladies.” She was so warm that the way she talked was so similar to our mothers. She even gave her phone number and said that we could call her anytime we’re working on something in Arnavutköy.
On Monday, 14 of December, as Robert College Social Entrepreneurship Club we went to Arnavutköy to discover the struggles of folks. We went to back-alleys of Arnavutköy and talked to people about their life in Arnavutköy. When we were wondering around, we saw an old gentleman playing with a dog at the entrance of the market, waiting for its owner to finish her shopping. We started to play with the dog too, then we talked with the old gentleman. He said that he has been living here for 15 years and then he started to talk about his dog. Then the owner of the dog came out and she joined our conversation. Then, we saw a flower selling lady, who was sitting and waiting for customers. We asked her how things were going for her and she was really pessimistic about her life and she started to smoke. Seeing her cigarettes cut our conversation short and lead us to a diiferent street in Arnavutköy. As a general overview Arnavutköy has many layers, when you look at it. At the seashore there are many cafes and fishers, and it is beautiful but it seemed more like a turistic area. Inside of Arnavutköy was much more crowded, moving with the daily life and it seemed more alive and real.