While most students were enjoying their summer break, Kirkwood High School senior Ethan Bell spent his summer playing for the U.S. Men’s Deaf Volleyball Team.

After training in California, Bell left with the U.S. team for Samsun, Turkey, where the 2017 Deaflympics were held July 18-30.

Bell said he was nervous about the trip at first because of what he heard about the political situation in Turkey. Last year, there was an attempted coup of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“When I went there, it was a great place,” Bell said. “The people were really nice, and the food was some of the best food I’ve had in my life. I never did feel unsafe.”

Bell’s mother, Jennifer, travelled separately to watch her son play in Samsun.

Jennifer Bell said she first flew into Istanbul and took a tour while waiting for her flight to Samsun.

“I was probably by myself most of the time in Samsun,” Jennifer Bell said. “I had absolutely no problems. I would go down to the Black Sea and hang out and have lunch. I would hang out at the beach by myself, shopped by myself and had no issues. It was a phenomenal experience.”

Source: Westendword