A legal reform project led to an ‘accidental’ journey eight years ago

Irene Banias is an assistant professor of political science and international relations at Bogazici University. Her connection with Turkey began rather «accidentally» eight years ago,when she was working on a legal reform project in Romania. «Despite my proximity to Turkey and particularly Istanbul, it never occurred to me visit this city,» she said. «It took the persistence of a close friend who was visiting her family in Istanbul to finally overcome my resistance.» She felt a strange mixture of apprehension and excitement about visiting, Banias said. «During the 40-minute taxi ride from Ataturk Airport to Bebek, my apprehension grew, as I felt completely vulnerable, not speaking a word of Turkish and having no idea of the direction of my destination,» she said. But the uncertainties faded when she finally saw the smiling faces of her friends. «Unwittingly, I had begun the slow journey of revisiting the impressions and conclusions of my youth that continued to dominate my adult view of the world I had just entered,» she explained. «For several summers after my first visit, I returned to Istanbul to teach summer school and reconnect with friends but mostly to gain some clarity about the clashing but also overlapping impressions and judgments that I inherited and what I was living.»