Cheyney University alumnus Doyt M. Jones, Class of 1973, participated in a August mission to Turkey sponsored by the Peach Island Institute, Inc.

Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Cheyney University and is a retired math teacher from the Philadelphia Public School District. After almost 40 years in the workforce, Jones decided to apply for the Turkey mission trip in an attempt to foster a better understanding of culture and humanity.

While overseas, Jones used his understanding of the post-secondary education system to share ideas with education, medical, and business professionals.

“The experience was quite educational because I was able to learn about the many facets of the country, ” said Jones. “It is so important to talk with citizens to get an understanding of the heartbeat of a religion, to experience the food, the travel, and the climate so that you leave with an understanding of the everyday life of a country.”

Diving into Turkish Culture

the Celsus Library

The Celsus Library. Photo: Doyt Jones

My journey to Turkey began in Istanbul, the largest city in Europe with a population of 16 million residents. Istanbul lies in both Europe and Asia, with the Bosphorous Strait separating the continents. Historic Istanbul is on the European side. This is where you will find the Aya Sofya (first church in Istanbul) and the Topkapi Palace (Ottoman Empire residence).

There are numerous mosques that stand out in Istanbul but, one of the famous mosques in this Muslim country is the Blue Mosque, with 260 stained glass windows, with interior consisting of Iznik blue tiles and the surrounding minarets, make it one of the most photogenic structures in Turkey.

We were also given the opportunity to visit Ephesus near the coastline of the Aegean Sea. This is the area that Paul traveled introducing Christianity. It is evident by the numerous ruins that this area can be traced back to 1200 BC.

There are some fascinating facts that I learned during my visit. Turkey became a republic after World War I and began adopting a lot of the principles that other European countries enjoyed. Women begin voting in national elections in 1933. While neighboring countries were exiling Greek Orthodox people for their beliefs, Turkey was encouraging those with bright minds to reside in their country and continue their work.

After the victory of Allies in WWI, Turkey began to westernize under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk who is the country’s most renowned leader that changed Turkey to a Republic that did away with the Ottoman way of life for the country. Turkish women are no longer required to be veiled in public and polygamy and religious marriage are abolished in present day Turkey.

No trip to Turkey would be complete without a trip to the Grand Bazaar, where you can get anything from clothing to jewelry and the Spice Bazaar, where all types of herbal products can be bartered for a reasonable price. The Bazaars can be overwhelming with the amount of foot traffic that one encounters,

A visit to the Cappadocia region allows one to experience the living conditions of Christians living in a land of Arabs and Turks. There homes and churches were created in the rocks so that they could hide from the invaders. An underground city with winery, church, and vaults were created for protection from invading tribes.

You can also find Doyt Jones’ story in the Fall 2013 issue of the Cheyney University National Alumni Association newsletter, The Spirit.