The Yogurt Man ComethNovember 09, 2014
Upon the first day of orientation in Ankara, the Fulbright Commission gifted all of the English Teaching Assistants with a book, The Yogurt Man Cometh: Tales of An American Teacher in Turkey by Kevin Revolinski. I found tremendous comfort in Revolinski’s words. As the craziest and most bizarre stories began happening to me I thought, “How will anyone believe me? Is there anyone who will understand?” Revolinski understood.
In fact, after finishing the book, I wrote to Revolinski requesting an interview. Revolinski’s book aided me; therefore, it can surely serve the Volunteer Global community. The book serves three main purposes:
1. To guide adventurers and teachers
Revolinski is proud of the way he adapted to Turkish culture. Instead of attending embassy parties or hanging out with expats, he invited over Turkish friends and engaged in the local community. His companion Bob, another teacher featured in The Yogurt Man Cometh, joined a Christian choir and was almost fluent in Turkish by the time he left.
Revolinski reassures his audience that “you can move to a foreign country too!” He highlights the ups and his “descent into Hell” within the novel. He tells it like it is., which ultimately shows readers that moving across the globe is hard but not impossible.
2. To demystify Turkey
“I would never go to Turkey!” “But Turkey is so dangerous!” are some of the common responses Revolinski and I have heard from our friends and family. Although Turkey is unique, strange, and outrageous at times, the people are no different from Americans, and Americans tend to have a misinformed view of the country.
In fact, Revolinski and I agreed, Turks can teach Americans about kindness and hospitality. In the book, Revolinski recalls a time where he needed to buy a shirt. When asking a man for directions, the shop owner offered to close his store and take him into town to buy the shirt. This past year Revolinski was in Japan where he met a Turkish man on the street. After exchanging with him a few Turkish words, the man abandoned his kabap cart in the street to show Revolinski the best place to get local cuisine. During our interview Revolinski and I swapped, “Turks are so kind” stories for a while. Upon arriving in Canakkale, a Turkish angel carried my bags a mile through cobble-stoned streets to help me locate my pension (hostel). He refused to let me compensate him for the trouble.
3. To entertain
Finally, the book is purely fun to read. Even if you are not traveling abroad in the near future, the beginning anecdote about the yogurt man will make you laugh out loud. Crazy things happen when you are a “stranger in a strange land.”
After the yogurt man
Revolinski became a high school teacher, but after three short years in the States, he moved to Guatemala. Then he became an English teacher in Panama. Revolinski has a book about teaching in Italy in the works, and he has also lived off and on in Thailand. He says that once you’ve lived abroad, you become more comfortable with adventure and travel. His friends and family were amazed at his ability to secure jobs and adapt to a new culture and political system. After living abroad in Turkey, Revolinski stated, “it was easy.”
Here are a few photos from my adventure in Turkey:
The Temple of Athena in Assos
Bozcaada Castle on the Aegean
Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara
Trojan Horse in Canakkale