Judith Isacoff, NV

Senior Writer

Judith’s writing career includes a story about a quirky mountain guide who snowshoed the tallest peak in Colorado, while her interviews with wives of Vietnam veterans are the basis for a play she wrote (recently staged in New York City). Her diverse interests include co-producing two jazz festivals, writing an e-book about living in Hong Kong, teaching English in Turkey, and running marathons, including the Pikes Peak Ascent. Now she has happily settled down with a laptop as a freelance writer and editor.

As a Story Terrace writer, Judith interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

No Barriers

During the year when I taught English at a university in Turkey, the new campus was still in development. Outside the main building, one path led to a hilltop with a view of the vast pastures and rolling hills that define the area surrounding Gaziantep. The university had erected tall chicken-wire fencing at the end of the path to mark the campus boundary.

One day, two of my fellow American teachers and I stood at the fence, taking in the lovely pastoral view and wishing we could wander in freedom on the other side. Before long, we saw a young man riding a donkey along the ridge, talking on his cellphone (we could not imagine how there was a signal!) and calling to the sheep behind him. When he saw us staring with our silly grins, he dismounted and approached the fence. Using more gestures than Turkish words, he “asked” us if we would like some tea. We were puzzled by this, because from our point of view, we were in the middle of nowhere and we saw nothing to indicate any possibility of tea being served in this remote location – just a shepherd, his donkey, and his flock.

The shepherd walked away from the fence and began gathering dry brush, which he lit with matches from his pocket. Then he reached into his backpack and pulled out a container of loose tea, a plastic jug of water, a well-seasoned aluminum teapot, a tub of sugar, a metal spoon, and two short tea glasses. He sterilized the glasses by rinsing them with boiling water and then added tea to the hot water in the pot, filled a glass, added sugar, and passed the glass to me through the fence. He then filled his own glass, and we toasted each other with big smiles in a moment of pure, uncomplicated sharing among people from vastly different parts of the world.

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