By Elizabeth Russell
Thinking about the place of elders in other cultures, I’m reminded of
my days in Turkey. Although I wasn’t, by American standards, an elder
(I was in late middle age at that time), I was considered so by the
people in that culture.
first experience was in Izmir, Turkey, where I was teaching English at
Ege University. Some of the time, I took a dolmus (share taxi) to and
from the university. I had no problem getting a space in the taxi going
to the university because we lived at the beginning of the route, but
coming home was a different matter.
The first few times I was
waiting at the taxi stand, I noticed that the taxis coming by were full
and so I backed away from the stop. Then one day, a full taxi stopped
and one of the riders got out and waved me in. I was startled and,
apparently, showed my confusion because one of the other riders (an
English-speaking one) said:
man is giving up his seat for you as a gesture of respect. You are a
teacher, an elder and a guest in our country. Any one of those calls
for respect—but being all three demands the greatest respect.”
I was deeply humbled.
next day, the taxi starter (the person whose job it was to hail cabs)
at the stop across from the building where we lived asked me for the
times of my departure and return. From that day on, there was always
room for me in taxis going my way. That taxi starter had passed along
the message and all the drivers took care of me while I was there.
you experienced any other demonstrations of respect for elders while in
another culture? If so, please post a comment…we’d love to hear from