On Saturday, Nov. 5, a tribute to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – the Kapali Carsi – is coming to a transformed from 11 am to 5:30 pm. Visitors will enjoy a family friendly event with live entertainment, arts and crafts activities for kids, special beverages and unique shopping opportunities.
“We have a really diverse city of different ages, cultures and interests," said Daphne Robinson, Arts Commission chair. Robinson said the event reflects and celebrates the cultural diversity of Sammamish and book ends the that the commission sponsored in February.
Focusing on Turkey’s unique culture, the celebration will give visitors an opportunity to experience ancient traditions that exist in harmony with western influences.
Istanbul’s grand bazaar – Kapali Carsi – is one of the largest and oldest covered bazaars in the world with 4,000 shops and dozens of restaurants.
Redmond's Alev Zekiye Sinanoglu is one of the organizers of the event. She is a mother, a writer and editor and volunteer for the Turkish American Culture Association of Washington, where she serves on the association's event committee. Her family has lived in the U.S. for 11 years and her husband Oguz Sinanoglu works for Microsoft.
While her organization has had numerous events celebrating Turkey’s culture in Seattle, this is the first time an event like this will happen on the eastside.
"This is a great chance to have an event in Sammamish and I'm very excited about it," Sinanoglu said.
Sinanoglu said thatamong the activities and events that will interest kids are the dance performances, many of which will be by young performers and she observed that, "kids love to watch other kids performing."
Visitors to the event will enjoy special Turkish treats and beverages. "Our guests will feel the Turkish hospitality at the event,” Sinanoglu said.
Sinanoglu's 11 year old daughter Elif and six year old son Denizhan will be among the dancers performing at the event.
Her daughter has been dancing since she was seven, her son since he was four and she observed that, "they are having so much fun and really enjoying it and they make me so proud."
Elif and Denizhan are part of a dance group that practices and performs year round.
"Kids want to get to learn their cultural dances," Sinanoglu said.
She added that she is especially happy that her daughter has this opportunity, one she herself did not have as a child growing up in Turkey.
"Our parents didn't focus on that while we were growing up in Turkey," Sinanoglu said, adding that now that she lives in another country she appreciates her native culture more.
Sinanoglu is motivated to spend many hours as a volunteer, and as a dance instructor working with kids, helping create events like the Grand Bazaar, in part to address what she experienced when she first arrived in America.
"When I first came to the U.S., I realized that people don't know about the real Turkey. I was even asked if I rode a camel," Sinanoglu said.
“There were stereotypes that we were a backward culture. Turkey is a country with a rich and diverse cultural background where western and eastern values co-exist in harmony. Now we want to help people to experience in a fun way that Turkey is a country with a rich cultural background."
Sinanoglu is grateful for the many hours volunteers spend creating the cultural festivals she and her family have been a part of. Working together to create the events is hard work but creates connections she observes between the volunteers. "It brings us close to each other," she said.
"There is a fairly large Turkish American population in Washington State, and we need everyone's help to mount the festivals, which is all done by volunteers. Working individually on promoting our culture is very hard and one does not make as much progress as when working with others with the same goals under the one roof.
"Getting connected with anyone who is willing to help makes a huge difference. Getting connected gave all us a chance to accomplish our goal to represent our culture in the best possible way and change the perception of Turkey in this area of U.S.A. to a better one.”