Quick Reflections

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Here are just some quick reflections on the first week teaching, or, as I would call it, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Being Adored.”

    1. At the start of each of my four classes, I told my students “You can address me as Jeremy, Jeremy Bey, or Jeremy Hoca.” This drew lots of laughter from all my students, since a Hoca is supposed to be an older learned scholar… something my students pointed out I wasn’t.
    2. A little bit of Turkish goes a long way in class. Students may complain about how difficult English is, but throwing in just the smallest amount of Turkish – to show that you commiserate in the difficulties of learning another language, as well as showing language learning is possible – convinces them to work a lot harder… Especially when you pretend to not understand anything else they say, so they have to speak in English.
    3. Being a teacher leads to the good life – I’ve never felt so respected and appreciated before. I’ve had students offering me snacks during break time, insisting I walk out a door first, offering to buy me lunch, or pleading to run out to the supermarket to buy me some water during class… Although, for that last one, they may have just wanted an excuse to get away.
    4. Despite State Department officials constantly throwing around the fact that America has something like a 13% approval rating during Turkey, Turks love American things. Playing a free association word game with the prompt, “When I think of America, I think…” you get a lot of fun words I would have never thought Turks would say, such as: Miami Beach, Las Vegas, LA Laker’s, poker, and Michael Jackson are amongst my favorites.

I think that’s all I have time to share for now, but the first week is pretty sweet. Now, I’m off to host fellow Fulbrighters and hike Mount Nemrut tomorrow.

5 thoughts on “Quick Reflections”

  1. Sounds like you’re having a lot of fun. I’m really surprised to hear that America has only a 13% approval rating amongst Turks though, especially considering what I’ve read on your blog. Maybe the purported xenophobia is more due to people judging the idea of what an American would be like, as opposed to seeing an actual American like you. I feel like we Americans do that a lot to other cultures as well.

    1. I think that the 13% approval rating isn’t xenophobia at all as much as it is just general frustration with the US government over many things: not enough tactical collaboration dealing with the PKK, the issue of Cyprus, American wars in Iraq, disagreements about the EU, etc… Really, in a broad generalization, people from totalitarians governments – or couñtries that have frequent relations with those types of governments – are extremely adept at distinguishing their dislike for a government from the people of that country. So, althoughTurks might dislike the American governmeñt, they love Americans and significant parts of American culture.

  2. Congratulations on finishing your first week! Sounds like all is generally well, too. By the way, what exactly do you teach?

    And don’t forget, teaching is a great way to practice showmanship, improve confidence, and be a total badass.

    1. Yeah, all is really solid here – thanks! I’m teaching a speaking and listening class, so I get to goof around with my students the entire time.

  3. I love these little teaching stories. You’ve obviously charmed your students and they must love that you speak Turkish. Bravo, Prof. Bender!

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