Sunday, December 24, 2006

Turkish hospitality impresses Professors

By Maggie Gill-Austern - Sun Journal- Lewiston,ME,USA
Thursday, December 21, 2006
A week after getting home from a lecture tour abroad, Waleck Dalpour and Jon Oplinger are still talking about the tea.Well, it was tea, coffee, food and lots and lots of conversation, actually - and a brand of hospitality that made a wonderfully unexpected (for Oplinger, at least) impact on their week in Turkey.
The two University of Maine at Farmington professors are members of the same department, Business and Social Sciences. Dalpour is an economics professor while Oplinger is a sociologist with a seemingly boundless knowledge of ancient Near Eastern archaeology.
They were asked by Turkish authorities to write a paper together for an early December celebration of famous Sufi poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi - known in the West simply as Rumi - in Konya, Turkey. The paper, which was presented before an audience of more than 400 people at Selcuk University in Konya, focused on the city's history, the impact of the poet Rumi on the culture and economics there, and on economic development for the future.
They also gave other talks in Konya and in Istanbul while in Turkey, visited Rumi's tomb, and took historical tours of the cities, Dalpour said. They visited Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, saw the huge Sultanhamet Mosque, and visited Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years.
Their paper was very well-received. So well, in fact, they were made honorary citizens of the city of Konya, Dalpour said.
That's a very big honor, Dalpour explained, for two guys from a small town representing a school many people around the world, and around the country, have never heard of. Konya - a big city - has been around for thousands upon thousands of years.
It is probably linked to Neolithic site Catalhoyuk (pronounced shatal-hooyook) nearby, which was one of the oldest and largest cities in the ancient Middle East, according to Oplinger's section of the paper. Konya itself goes back to the Bronze Age, Oplinger said.
The city - called Iconium in Roman times - was also the home to Rumi during the last part of his life, and the place where the Islamic mystical tradition of sufism is said to have been born, Dalpour and Oplinger explained.
But aside from all the pomp and circumstance, the brilliant scholars and politicians they met, the wonderful discussions they had, one thing stood out for them, they said, and that was the distinctly Turkish form of hospitality they experienced.
"The hospitality was staggering," Oplinger said. "I was most impressed."This was his first trip to Turkey, he said. It was almost uncomfortable, at first, to be so well cared-for, for so much time, until he got used to it. They were poured so much tea, given so much coffee, chauffeured around town so much, it was almost hard to find time to sleep, Dalpour said.
"We were welcomed everywhere with love - real love," he said. "They really tried to please us."
Both are planning other papers, to be presented this April. Both are excited to go back.

1 comment:

irving said...

Interesting story, except the part about the Islamic mystical tradtion being born in Konya. Are they kidding?

Ya Haqq!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Turkish hospitality impresses Professors
By Maggie Gill-Austern - Sun Journal- Lewiston,ME,USA
Thursday, December 21, 2006
A week after getting home from a lecture tour abroad, Waleck Dalpour and Jon Oplinger are still talking about the tea.Well, it was tea, coffee, food and lots and lots of conversation, actually - and a brand of hospitality that made a wonderfully unexpected (for Oplinger, at least) impact on their week in Turkey.
The two University of Maine at Farmington professors are members of the same department, Business and Social Sciences. Dalpour is an economics professor while Oplinger is a sociologist with a seemingly boundless knowledge of ancient Near Eastern archaeology.
They were asked by Turkish authorities to write a paper together for an early December celebration of famous Sufi poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi - known in the West simply as Rumi - in Konya, Turkey. The paper, which was presented before an audience of more than 400 people at Selcuk University in Konya, focused on the city's history, the impact of the poet Rumi on the culture and economics there, and on economic development for the future.
They also gave other talks in Konya and in Istanbul while in Turkey, visited Rumi's tomb, and took historical tours of the cities, Dalpour said. They visited Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, saw the huge Sultanhamet Mosque, and visited Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years.
Their paper was very well-received. So well, in fact, they were made honorary citizens of the city of Konya, Dalpour said.
That's a very big honor, Dalpour explained, for two guys from a small town representing a school many people around the world, and around the country, have never heard of. Konya - a big city - has been around for thousands upon thousands of years.
It is probably linked to Neolithic site Catalhoyuk (pronounced shatal-hooyook) nearby, which was one of the oldest and largest cities in the ancient Middle East, according to Oplinger's section of the paper. Konya itself goes back to the Bronze Age, Oplinger said.
The city - called Iconium in Roman times - was also the home to Rumi during the last part of his life, and the place where the Islamic mystical tradition of sufism is said to have been born, Dalpour and Oplinger explained.
But aside from all the pomp and circumstance, the brilliant scholars and politicians they met, the wonderful discussions they had, one thing stood out for them, they said, and that was the distinctly Turkish form of hospitality they experienced.
"The hospitality was staggering," Oplinger said. "I was most impressed."This was his first trip to Turkey, he said. It was almost uncomfortable, at first, to be so well cared-for, for so much time, until he got used to it. They were poured so much tea, given so much coffee, chauffeured around town so much, it was almost hard to find time to sleep, Dalpour said.
"We were welcomed everywhere with love - real love," he said. "They really tried to please us."
Both are planning other papers, to be presented this April. Both are excited to go back.

1 comment:

irving said...

Interesting story, except the part about the Islamic mystical tradtion being born in Konya. Are they kidding?

Ya Haqq!