Submitted by Rachel Whitcomb, Global Ambassador in Istanbul, Turkey
One of the most interesting parts about Istanbul and Turkey in general is that although it’s a secular state, and has been for decades, the population is 98% Islamic and at this time of year, Ramadan, it certainly shows. This unique combination leads to a variety of clothing styles- modest coverings ranging from burqa (fully veiled except for the eyes), hijab (only the face is showing), and just covering all of the arms and legs, to the modern European/Western style dressing. There are certain parts of the city that you need to be aware of what you are wearing, but most of the time it’s not something we worry about.
I’ve been in solidarity with the half of the Muslim population here in Istanbul that has been fasting for Ramadan- that’s no food or water from morning prayer at 3:55 a.m. until the sun sets at 8:40 p.m. (yes, that many hours without food or water). It’s been a challenging and humbling experience, especially to be a part of it around so many other people! By day, the city and areas around my campus are pretty barren, but after the sun sets people come from all over and hang out and celebrate. It’s a beautiful sight to see!