NEW CASTLE —
All Russ Relic wanted was something to eat.
Just days into his daring move to Turkey early last year, the New Castle native felt a much-needed connection to home when he spotted a familiar site — McDonald’s.
So Relic walked in, looked at the menu and immediately found his favorite meal.
“I’ll take a Number 1 meal with Sprite,” he told the counter worker.
The worker, a Turkish national, looked at him and shook his head.
“Big Mac, fries and a Sprite, please,” Relic tried again.
Still another shake of the head.
Relic stood helplessly, wondering what to do next. He felt a sense of relief when a young Turkish boy walked into the restaurant.
“Do you speak English?” Relic asked him.
“Yes,” the boy said.
“How do I say Big Mac, fries and a Sprite in Turkish?” Relic asked.
The boy turned to the clerk and said in perfect English, “the man wants a Big Mac, fries and a Sprite.”
The clerk nodded, smiled and filled the order.
“I left there,” Relic said, “wondering what had just happened. And what the heck I had gotten myself into.”
What Relic had gotten himself into has proved to be the adventure of a lifetime.
In the space of 20 months, the son of East Side residents Russ and Cheryl Relic left behind the only life he has known for the past 29 years in the United States to accept a teaching job in Adana, Turkey, where he found himself handicapped to communicate as he learns the language in a country that is in the middle of months of protests against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In the midst of it all, Relic met Raina Colak, a Turkish national with whom he fell in love and married six months after his arrival. On Friday, the two celebrated the birth of their first child, a daughter they named Ada Maria.
“Overall, the last 20 months have been extremely rewarding in many ways. It has opened my eyes more about this crazy world,” Relic said. “I don’t regret a minute of it. I found love and now I have a beautiful little girl.”