SYRACUSE STUDENTS OF DIFFERENT FAITHS MAKE A JOURNEY TO TURKEY by Garret Pustay


On March 8, 2007, I traveled to Turkey with twenty-two others from Syracuse University to explore how Chris- tians, Muslims and Jews all live together there in a seemingly harmonious fashion. The primary goals of the trip, arranged by Hendricks Chapel, were to engage in interfaith dialogue and to become more acquainted with the different religious traditions practiced in Turkey.

Over the course of a few days, we traveled to several churches, mosques and synagogues and spoke to the lo- cals about their religious beliefs and traditions. Our itinerary included visits to Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Suleyman Mosque, and the Uc Horon Armenian Church. We also managed to attend a Whirling Dervishes ceremony and witness how Sufis connect to God.

We also visited Turkish universities to meet with faculty and students. On one occasion, we traveled to Yildiz Technical University in Istanbul to meet with professor of political science Haldun Gulalp and discussed the most important current political issues facing Turkey. These included Turkey’s quest to join the European Union and the increasing role of Islam in Turkish political life.

At the end of the week, we flew to the southern city of Izmir and then traveled on bus to Ephesus, the site of unbelievable ancient Roman ruins. We also visited the site of the Temple of Artemis, where only a single pillar of the former Wonder of the World remains.
The group left Turkey with a better understanding of how the three religious traditions connect. We realized that no matter the tradition, we all share the same God and should want nothing but peace in the world.

For more information about this trip, please visit http://hendricks.syr.edu/turkey/

Garret Pustay is a junior majoring in International Relations and Political Science.