Ho?geldiniz: NWLA celebrates Turkish culture

Fred Lundahl

When Langley resident Fred Lundahl first passed through Turkey on his way to the Caucasus of Central Asia, he was equally impressed by the architectural beauty of the Hagia Sophia and the genuine welcoming nature of the nation’s people.

It is this same warmth that inspired Josette Hendrix, director of Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center in Langley, to name the next installation in the organization’s Language of Food series “Hoşgeldiniz,” which means welcome in Turkish.

Language of Food aims to connect individuals through cross-cultural community gatherings featuring food, conversation, cultural presentations, music and dance.

This month’s event will feature Turkey, a country which Lundahl describes as, “a modern, social media-conscious population overlaying one of the most ancient civilizations in the world.”

Hoşgeldiniz takes place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, March 28, and will begin with a bazaar filled with Turkish imports including jewelry, clothing accoutrements and figurines. This will be followed by a feast of Turkish cuisine and performances of music and dance. The dinner and event costs $65.

The Turkish Honorary Consul of Seattle Ufuk Bey Gokcen and Recep Demir, Turkey’s commercial attache will both be present, as will Dilek Tezcan Anderson and Yasemin San of the Turkish cultural organizations Turckcha and Tacawa, according to the Northwest Language Academy website.

Anadolu Youth Dancers, a group of Turkish American children from the Seattle area, will perform. Bob Beer and Izumi Fairbanks will play Turkish folk music on kemane, kemenche and Pontic lyra and baglama (traditional string instruments) and drum while pop group Sehr-i Seattle will perform a medley of popular modern Turkish songs. The Mutrib Orchestra, a group of musicians from the Mevlevi Order of America, will play both classical Turkish music and Sufi songs, including ilahis, and will demonstrate turning. Audience members will be encouraged to join in learning some basic turning gestures as well as the call and response of ilahi.

Preceding the evening’s festivities, Süreyya Gökeri, co-owner of Seattle’s Cafe Turko, will lead a cooking class from 2-5 p.m. The class costs $35, which includes a recipe book. Hendrix explained that the dishes will consist of traditional recipes which individuals can make at home.

One week prior, on Sunday, March 22, Lundahl will join Graham Umit Dogan, owner of the boutique travel agency Treasures of Travel, for a presentation and discussion.

Dogan will also offer tips on traveling to Turkey for those who are interested. Admission to Sunday’s event is by donation at the door.

Hendrix said she hopes that each of the events will present an opportunity to facilitate a discussion that will illuminate a more “human view” of current events, including Turkey’s unique position on the world stage.

Lundahl, who owns the downtown Langley shop Music for the Eyes, has traveled to Turkey 20-30 times since his first visit several years ago. He and his wife make the trip annually, acquiring new goods for the shop, visiting with friends and exploring new places.

Despite their frequent visits, Lundahl said he and his wife still have places they have yet to explore, due to the country’s numerous ancient historical sites and natural beauty.

Just last year, Lundahl noted, archaeologists discovered a 14,500-year-old temple, which was featured in National Geographic as an astonishing and important find.

The ancient city of Troy was also located in the area now known as Turkey, according to the World Heritage Centre.

“We’re proud of stuff that is 300 years old,” Lundahl said. “They are proud of stuff that is 3,000 years old.”

He added that the Hagia Sophia, the architectural wonder which so impressed him upon his first visit, embodies the evolution of Turkey and its ancient roots.

The building was built in 537, and served as a Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica. It was converted to a mosque following the fall of the Ottoman’s conquest of Constantinople, and presently is a museum.

“It is so awe-inspiring,” he said.

For more information on Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center’s upcoming events, visit nwlanguageacademy.com.