Last week, University of Pittsburgh graduate student Gunes Ertan was protesting in Ankara, Turkey, armed with antacid tablets and milk to help her recover from the effects of the tear gas riot police sprayed over the crowd.
This week, Ms. Ertan is in Pittsburgh, aching for her home country as she communicates with Turkish friends through Facebook and Twitter.
"It was very hard and heartbreaking [to leave Turkey,]" Ms. Ertan said. "My heart and my mind is there."
Ms. Ertan has spent the last several months in Turkey researching her dissertation on social movements. Just weeks before she was scheduled to return to the United States on June 13, social media networks spread word to Ankara of the government's plan to raze an Istanbul park. What began as an environmental protest in Gezi Park on May 31 has surged into a nationwide movement against an increasingly authoritarian government, and Ms. Ertan took to the Ankara streets with her friends. Since that first night, more than 3,000 people have been detained by police for demonstrating, more than 7,500 people have been injured and at least four people -- three protesters and one police officer -- have been killed.
Through rubber bullets and tear gas, Ms. Ertan said, Turkish protesters keep adapting to the government's actions. Most recently, weeks of sometimes violent response from police have produced a new tactic across the nation -- the "standing man" protesters who are silent and passive, yet defiant.
"Every single day a different thing is happening," Ms. Ertan said. "I've never seen this kind of creativity in any protest in my life. There is extreme use of humor, extreme use of different ways of challenging the police brutality."
Like Ms. Ertan, Muge Finkel was once a student in Turkey. Her last day as an undergraduate at Bogazici University in Istanbul was the day now-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won his election as the city's mayor in 1994.
She now teaches graduate courses on international development at Pitt. But in the years that have followed her departure from Istanbul, she said, she has been "astonished" as she has watched from abroad Mr. Erdogan's dominant rise to his current office.
"I certainly hoped that he would have much more planned opposition and would not really stand in power this unchallenged for so long," said Ms. Finkel, who has a doctorate in foreign affairs.
On June 11, as riot police fired water cannons on demonstrators in Istanbul's Taksim Square, Ms. Finkel's 8-year-old son Deniz boarded a plane to visit his grandparents in the Turkish coastal town of Mersin. She is now following the protests not only out of interest in the future of her home country, but also out of concern for her son's safety.
The protests have been "more controlled chaos and much more civilized" as they continue, Ms. Finkel said, and her son should be safe from harm with his family far from the protests in Turkey's larger cities.
She described friends in Istanbul who have been working through the day and then gathering to protest in Taksim Square at night.
"They take off their ties and they show up at the protest sites," she said.
From his home in Regent Square, Mehmet Dosemeci has also spoken with friends who have joined the ongoing uprising against Mr. Erdogan. Mr. Dosemeci left Turkey with his parents in 1980 when he was only 4 years old, but he will fly back there today for an annual visit to friends and family.
"There is this kind of joy that they've had in being able to go and vent on the street in a collective manner a lot of the discontent that they've felt was boiling up in them," Mr. Dosemeci said of his Turkish friends. "On the other hand, there is outrage at the use of police violence, at the four deaths that have resulted from police violence, and fear ... that police violence could escalate to a much more murderous state, that there could be military involvement."
While in Turkey, Mr. Dosemeci, who has a doctorate in history and teaches the subject at Duquesne University, said he wants to participate in the latest phase of the protests -- democratic neighborhood assemblies where local people discuss the conflict and its impact in their own communities.
"In modern democracies, it's not just about elections," he said. "You can live in a democracy in very different ways and exercise democratic rights in very different ways. The Turkish case is showing different ways to do that."
Now that Ms. Ertan is back at her home in East Liberty, she can only hear about these developing local meetings from her friends. Yet she is still repeating the simple slogan that has carried the entire movement across Turkey.
"'Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance,'" Ms. Ertan said. "Wherever you go in Turkey, that is probably the slogan you will hear the most."