At six o’clock every evening, the Raindrop Turkish House in North Austin begins to light up. Dozens of students from all backgrounds come together to learn Turkish language, art, cooking and even calligraphy.
René Flores is a graphic designer who wanted a break from his software package for a change.
“I’ve always been interested in calligraphy and I didn’t get a lot of opportunity to do it when I was in school studying graphic design,” Flores says. “So when I heard about this, you know, it sounded really interesting to me.”
He heard about it in the Austin Community College catalogue. This is the first year that Raindop Turkish House classes are accredited by ACC. Director Ibrahim Server says that came after a six year campaign.
“After that we saw some ACC classes offered, like Foreign Language, and we went to ACC and we talked to them, Server says. “We actually complete the requirements and they also accept our Turkish classes and we start working together after that time.”
ACC doesn’t pay the nonprofit. All of its teachers are volunteers. So what does the Turkish house get out of the deal?
“ACC [helps] us find a lot of students also with a catalog with continuing courses they publish some flyers they publish this class on their websites and they help us a lot finding students,” Server says.
Raindrop House’s first function is to welcome Turkish immigrants to Texas. It’s second is to introduce Texas students to Turkish language and culture – students like Courtney Debower, who takes Turkish conversation classes.
“I went to Turkey when I was in college and I always thought it would be a fun language to learn someday,” Debower says. “So when I moved to Austin I looked at the ACC Adult Ed. Catalog and they happen to have a Turkish Class so I felt like that was a sign that I should sign up.”
Debower will get an official certificate from Austin Community College when she finishes her course.
“It’s been a lot of fun they really incorporate the cooking and the tea and the art classes and all of the culture side that goes with the language,” Debower says.
There are 17 Raindrop Turkish houses across Texas – Houston has the largest one. But Austin is the only city where the art and language classes are accredited by a local community college.
It’s a model that the group wants to export to the rest of the state.