Seeds Of Understanding

Raindrop brings Turkish culture to Tulsa.

Raindrop Turkish House hosts a weekly Friday Night Social at its Broken Arrow center. Photo by Brandon Scott.

Raindrop Turkish House hosts a weekly Friday Night Social at its Broken Arrow center. Photo by Brandon Scott.

You are invited. The Raindrop Turkish House welcomes everyone to enjoy traditional cuisine, art, music and dance.

Raindrop goes beyond the role of a community center for local Turkish-Americans. The organization acts as an ambassador, encouraging friendships and conversation between cultures through programs that are open to all. Raindrop hosts Turkish language and history classes, cooking classes, water marbling classes and women’s coffee night discussions.

“As the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has a history of multiethnic, multifaith inclusion,” says Raindrop spokesperson Omer Akdeniz. “We think by sharing and celebrating the diversity of our communities, everyone will understand one another better and be more enriched.”

People seem excited to learn about the culture, he says.

“We have also felt welcomed in the community. That has really helped us as an immigrant community to get settled and feel part of the city,” Akdeniz says.

Many of Raindrop’s cultural events center around food and hospitality.

“Because of the location of Turkey and its Ottoman past, we have a pretty diverse kitchen,” he says. “We are famous for our kebabs and our baklava.”

For the past four years, Tulsans have gotten a taste of this Turkish fare at Raindrop’s biggest event, the Turkish Festival, this year on May 3. Last year, the free event attracted about 5,000 guests, who immersed themselves in the culture.

“We bring artisans from Turkey,” says Akdeniz. “We have whirling dervish performances. There is a huge offering of Turkish food and crafts.”

These education and entertainment events help Raindrop maintain its culture from within, as well.

“We help Turkish-Americans to preserve their Turkish identities by providing them ‘home away from home,” says Akdeniz. “We are proud of our heritage and don’t want to lose the sights, sounds, flavors and values of our culture.”

The organization also wants recent Turkish immigrants to feel comfortable in their new country.

“That might be through English language courses or just helping them figure out something as simple as how and where to rent an apartment,” he says.

Raindrop offers a great balance of services and celebrations that allow Turkish-Americans to thrive in their new country while maintaining their culture and passing it on to future generations.

“The United States is such a great place because there are so many people from so many different places that have all shared pieces of their heritage,” Akdeniz says. “We want to add to that mix.”