On the weekend of July 7, I traveled from where I was working in Belgrade, Serbia, to Istanbul to meet a friend. A U.S. government employee working in southern Turkey, she had managed to secure the U.S. Consulate to Turkey’s boat for the weekend and would be taking it to sail and swim among the Princes’ Islands. The boat, Hiawatha, is nearly a century old and has hosted the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt during its commission in the Bosphorus Strait.
I flew in on Friday night; my friend flew in on Saturday morning. Saturday evening I met her and her coworker on the rooftop of her coworker’s hotel, the Marmara Pera, to watch the sunset over Istanbul.
As I got to know her coworker, we quickly uncovered that she had grown up in northwestern Indiana, while I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In telling my story, I went on to share that I had gone to Beloit College and, in return, my friend’s coworker, Naomi Wachs’99, replied that she had graduated from Beloit as well!
My friend, a graduate of Kalamazoo College, another College That Changes Lives, knew and understood the bond we shared in both being Beloiters, but had completely overlooked sharing it with us. Naomi and I went on to cover the standard revelry of two Beloiters, uniting over rooftop drinks and a traditional Turkish meal in a local restaurant before the three of us called it a night.
The next day at 8 a.m., we boarded the Hiawatha together with a handful of other friends and coworkers. We spent the morning cruising the border between Europe and Asia, dropping anchor among the Princes’ Islands, and swimming with [non-harmful] jellyfish and dolphins in the Sea of Marmara. Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any turtles, but we still managed to find each other in our hectic, unpredictable lives abroad.