Junior Ben Bontreger: “While I enjoyed Israel, it was nice to see something fresh. We landed in Istanbul and spent most of our time in the Sultanahmet area with the most famous sites the city has to offer. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia loomed nearby and captured our attention throughout the week. A rainy afternoon was a good time to explore the grounds of the Topkapi Palace which included numerous exhibits of Ottoman artifacts. Finally, the Grand Bazaar provided plenty to do in between. We carefully navigated the scores of shops, hunting for the best possible bargains. In all of these experiences, I felt the rush of adrenaline that comes with witnessing the magnificent.”
Junior Natalia Derstine: “For me, [cross-cultural] is a sort of confirmation that we are called to a radical life of being uncomfortable, of going out into the unknown [and] into the most worldly places to interact with people who are different than us; a place where we can share the good news of Jesus and continue His ministry to the ends of the world.
Senior Morgan Kratz: “We are all taking in so much and trying to process everything, which is close to an impossible task, but for now I’m satisfied to follow the advice I received from my host dad: constantly keep your eyes open to observe and your ears open to hear, if you get more confused you are on the right track. There are no simple answers to this conflict and, although we’ve experienced so much, we are not experts and will not be able to solve the problem. This humbling realization is what we carry with us throughout the rest of our adventures.”
Sophomore Rebecca Cardwell: “We arrived at a Quaker guest house, Casa de Los Amigos, exhausted and hungry from our long expedition to Mexico City. We were welcomed with warm hospitality as we found that we would be eating chili and corn bread, a more westernized meal, after eating beans, eggs, and tortillas for the past couple of months. That evening, some went to the revolution monument that is lit up with red lights at night. We watched a beautiful fountain of lights while being serenaded with typical music of Spanish guitar and flutes. We all were content with not having a strict schedule there, which allowed for a better transition to Mexico.
“One night we dressed up and went to see a Baile Folklorico, a folkloric dance, in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. We watched in awe at the women in their colorful traditional dresses accompanied by men in their sombreros floating around the stage as they tapped and danced to Mariachi music. None of us wanted to blink in fear of missing out on the amazingly beautiful dances.”