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Canan's Story

"Love Letter" to InterPlay


InterPlay changed my life and changed my world! Let me tell you my story.


My name is Canan, and I am from Turkey. Currently, I am living in a suburb of Georgia. I came to the U.S. four years ago suddenly, because of the political problems in Turkey. I arrived here with one suitcase, bringing a few clothes, lots of fear, uncertainties, concerns, anxiety, and loss.


Of course, the language was different and the culture was different. At that point in time, I belonged neither to Turkey nor to the States. I applied for asylum and thankfully it was granted this past year. 


I was tasked with the job of trying to create a new life. To improve my language skills and fluency, I attended short courses at the Georgia Tech Language Institute. There, I met Certified InterPlay Leader Ruth Schowalter who applying InterPlay forms and tools in her English language classroom. In the beginning, it was weird to walk, run, and move in a class. Then I learned that it was InterPlay!


After attending four of Ruth’s language courses and InterPlay workshops, I wanted to “play” more. This resulted in my earning the Level-1 Certificate in Applied InterPlay for Educators and co-creating with Ruth four InterPlay workshops for my Turkish community in the Metro-Atlanta area. We also did one English-language 5-workshop series to support international women and my community in 2017.


As Ruth and I collaborated, we played more, and we shared more. Our relationship deepened. We became “mom and daughter” with a shared vision dedicated to empowering women. We wanted to share our joy cultivated through InterPlay with the women in my Turkish community who felt isolated and traumatized after resettling in the U.S., and with other international women who were seeking community. In 2018, Ruth and I founded “Sustaining International Sisters” (SIS) to bring together all of these women to do InterPlay and share food. We successfully gathered asylum seekers, international students and community members, and U.S. citizens for a monthly “play and potluck.”  As a Muslim woman, it was important to me to honor all Muslim women from around the word who want to dance and move with the modesty that an all-woman group provides. In 2019, we launched online Global SIS: InterPlay to continue to connect with and support international women who left Atlanta and returned their countries. 


With support and encouragement of Ruth, I started my InterPlay Leader Training in February 2019. I traveled to Raleigh, Chicago, Oakland (InterPlayce) for trainings. I attended Art and Social Change program last year. All of the training I received was amazing! I feel that all InterPlayers were friendly, funny, welcoming! We were like close friends in a few hours. 


InterPlay creates a safe, warm, and joyful environment. I am grateful for having Ruth Schowalter and InterPlay in my life. I am thankful for being a part of global InterPlay community. I appreciate Cynthia Winton-Henry, Phil Porter, and all support to me and SIS. 


InterPlay helped me gain confidence, listen to my body, and enjoy my limitations. As an a asylee, I have experienced firsthand how InterPlay integrates body, mind, heart and spirit. That experience of integration was what I needed while discovering my new self here in the United States. I discovered my body, my power, my skills, my intentions, even things that I want to change in my new life.


I needed a way to heal, release, and relax. InterPlay tools and forms helped me through this healing process with fun and joy, without any judgement or criticism. Through my training and the formation and operation of SIS, I exformed the trauma of moving unexpectedly to a different country by moving, singing, shaking, witnessing, running, and stopping. I listened to many stories of my sisters. I learned about new cultures. I have made many friends/sisters. I practiced affirmation and looking for the good. I saw first the good things in Canan (myself) –then all of the good things that we have in this world. That affirming life view motivated me while making decisions about my new life. I am delighted to share all of these treasures with other women from around the world. 


Thank you for listening to my story. I know now more than ever how the telling of a story can help one “re-story” her life. Each time I share my story it changes, and so do I.

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