“We’re basically brothers,” said Deniz Yaveroglu, looking at his friend.
“Agreed,” replied George Antonopoulus, without even skipping a beat.
These two friends are like most at Exeter, but what makes their friendship special is that they are not supposed to be friends at all.
George, from Webster dorm, and Deniz, from Amen dorm, met each other while playing soccer during PE. Initially they related over their love for futbol, but soon found out that their friendship had a deeper message.
George who is from Athens, Greece, and Deniz from Istanbul, Turkey, formed an unexpected friendship. The countries are notorious for their conflicts over sea territory and natural resources, but here at Exeter those conflicts disappear.
“The rest of the world thinks we are enemies,” said Deniz, “but I think we are like brothers.” The two boys shared stories of the times that they had spent in one another’s countries. They both agreed that Greeks and Turks are a lot nicer to each other than let on.
“It feels good meeting someone from the same area,” said George, smiling at Deniz. “Yeah, like a neighbor,” added his Turkish friend.
The two know that their friendship can be seen as odd or controversial, but they fully embrace the title of frenemies and hope others understand the complexities of it.
“I want to show that Greek people don’t hate the Turkish people,” said George about the deeper meaning of their friendship. The two friends hope that they represent a certain narrative of Greece and Turkey. Politically the two countries are adversaries, but the citizens do care for one another.
George and Deniz are able to have calm conversations about the conflicts their countries face and the upcoming events that will influence their countries’ relations. The expectation that the two should hate each other only makes their bond stronger.
Similarly, Tori Kim, from Hong Kong, and Caroline Powley from Exeter have become best friends here at Exeter Summer. Despite the ongoing tension between the U.S. and China the two enjoy lunch together and share lots of laughs. Tori takes her time to teach her new friend Korean in an effort to share her life with her new friend.
While tensions between Italy and France worsened in Europe, here at Exeter the two representatives of the country could not be getting along better.
Inès d’Hérouville, from Paris, and Carlotta Catapano from Milan, Italy, became fast friends at Exeter despite political tensions between their countries.
“There haven’t been many fights between us,” said Inès, “at least not yet.”
Like George and Deniz, the girls acknowledged that even though their countries don’t always get along, the hostility of the governments isn’t carried out in personal connections.
“No matter their nationality, you should focus more on the individual, rather than their background,” said Ines, alluding to her supposed frenemy and all other possible friendships to be made.
While discussing the dynamic of the two countries Carlotta described the conflicts as very stereotypical. “These issues are more to laugh about than to actually get mad about,” she said.
Exeter Summer is the model of an ideal world. All nationalities from all countries can unite, coexist, and celebrate each other’s cultures. Even those who don’t have any frenemy dynamics have still gained worldly perspectives.
“After a point I really saw that our differences are what unite us,” said Maraya Berketi, a resident of Bancroft and citizen of Athens, Greece, who is heavily involved in Exeter’s leadership program, “I feel lucky to have learned from people from all over the world because I feel I have become more rich in knowledge.”
The students at Exeter express how grateful they are for the amount of diversity here on campus. Ella Ray Creed, a day student at Exeter, and Emmett Ceachman both come from small towns that they say lack the broad palette of personalities and nationalities that Exeter attracts.
Ella Ray has had the opportunity to explore Swedish culture and language with her friend Yalle Akesson from Stockholm, Sweden.
“I tried Swedish candy!” she said “It was interesting. It was so salty it hurt my mouth at first, but then I liked it.” In exchange, Yalle has been introduced to lots of new American phrases and slang.
Ella Ray is an aspiring Spanish interpreter and has used Exeter to practice her conversation skills in her second language. Upon testing her skills she was perplexed by the extent of different dialects.
“There are so many different dialects here that even some of the Spanish girls don’t understand each other,” she said, “I thought that was really interesting because I’ve been studying dialects for a really long time and I still didn’t understand some of what they were saying.”
Conversations at Exeter are some of the most vivid that students have ever had. With so many differences, topic possibilities are endless.
“I’ve had some genuinely interesting conversations about religion,” said Dimitris Mesadakos, from Athens. He has been able to discuss his religion with students who have different religious upbringing and practices. In one instance, he spoke with two Muslim students who explained the opposing ways they interpreted the Quaran. One approaches the teachings of the text in a more literal way and the other in a more interpretive way.
In Athens, he says, he never would have been able to have these types of conversations, “In Greece we don’t have very much diversity racially or religiously,” he said, “It’s been such a great experience for me to meet such a diverse group of people.”
There is no such thing as an unexpected friendship here at Exeter Summer. Culture thrives, conflict is given the cold shoulder, and appreciation prevails above all else.