Tawni Majetic’s year in Turkey

As Senior Tawni Majetic sits in her U.S. History class, she thinks back to her year in Turkey. It all began when she chose to take a trip through Rotary International, which is a service organization that works to help people by improving their lives and promoting peace. She lived with a host family in Istanbul and traveled throughout the country, Sweden, and Denmark. Tawni also went to school, but she mostly observed.

Majetic left the United States on August 22, 2009 for Istanbul, Turkey. When she arrived, her exchange family picked her up from the airport and took her home. In the beginning, it was difficult to adjust to life in Istanbul because she “didn’t know boundaries” and was “not very good at Turkish.”

It was also difficult for Majetic to attend school because the curriculum was so different from RB. One of the major differences between school in the United States and Turkey is that the curriculum is much more advanced there. Much of what American students learn in high school is taught in Turkey’s elementary schools. Turkish students also study all the major sciences (biology, chemistry, and physics) every year during high school. Another big difference is that Turkish schools do not have organized sports. Instead, once a week, the students participated in an activity, such as photography. Lastly, the students never had to move from one classroom to another because the teachers came to them.

One of Tawni’s favorite things in Turkey was the people. She became very close to many of the people she met, including her exchange mother and her classmates. Her mother always made fresh, delicious food and even shined her shoes. Majetic often hung out with her friends from school and Rotary International. They played a lot of backgammon, went to movies, and visited the city. One of the best parts of going out in public was that Majetic was always treated like a celebrity.

“It was like I was famous,” she said. “Random people on the street would ask for my autograph and take my picture.” As an American, she stood out very easily from the natives.

When Tawni wasn’t hanging out with friends or going to school, she was traveling. Throughout the year, she visited family in Denmark and Sweden, went to Rotary Club meetings, and toured the southwestern part of Turkey.

In July of 2010 as it came time to leave, Majetic self-admittedly “cried her eyes out” at the thought of leaving the people she had “learned to love.” When asked if she would ever go back someday, she responded, “I’m going back as soon as possible, hopefully next summer.”

Majetic’s trip is something that she will be able to remember fondly for the rest of her life. She hopes that other RB students will follow in her footsteps and take their own foreign exchange trips. Sitting in that U.S. History class, she’s able to share the unique perspective of her broader horizons.