My morning class ended early today. The students were supposed to give presentations, but half the class didn’t show up because they took the National Collegiate Exam yesterday. The students who did come, though, were the creme de la creme. So, to reward them – and also because I had apparently promised them – I found myself ushering them all as quietly as possible past the directors office, out of the building, and onto the lawn outside.
I am not the most creative person when it comes to creating lesson plans; when I do try to flex my creative muscles, often times the results are sub-par (read, Ke$ha). Last week, partially inspired by a discussion with Danielle, I decided to try something different with my conversation classes. So, without giving them any background, I presented them with this painting, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper:
As far as I can tell, the concept of a diner is completely unheard of in Turkey, which prompted lively discussion from my classes.
During my time in Malatya I’ve made friends with a few families living in my university neighborhood. For the most part they all have small children and work in the hospital on campus. In exchange for giving some free basic English lessons to their children, the families usually invite me over for dinner and provide some hands on Turkish practice.
It’s mostly the food that’s important, though.
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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.