Ankara · Goals · Teaching

What I’ve Been Up To

Günaydın! (Good morning)

I’m finally getting into the rhythm of things here in Ankara. I have three classes of about 20 students each. The university gave us Fulbrighters the A+ level students. Contrary to what you might think, these are the students with nearly the lowest speaking ability. So how does that work when I barely know Turkish? It takes a lot of pictures, acting things out, and writing on the board. Sometimes it can be daunting, but my students know more than they think, so I’ve been having a great time with them.

Some of my students love selfies.

Questions that students often asked me during the first two weeks:

  • Teacher, are you married?
  • Teacher, how did you get your hair that way? I like it!
  • Teacher, do you know Turkish?
  • Teacher, how old are you?

I’m actually surprised that so many people believe off the bat that I’m American. Before coming here, I was given the impression that Turks couldn’t possibly believe that blacks could be “truly” American, but that hasn’t happened for me. On the other hand, some people think that my roommate Keanna and I are French (or French African), which is nothing short of hilarious. In the bazaars, people will switch from “Hello! Where are you from?” to “Bonjour, mademoiselle!”

Last Friday, two of my roommates and I went to Lake Eymir, where we hiked with a group of expats. They were mostly Dutch, with a couple of Canadians, a Frenchman and a Brit thrown in. There’s also a large number of stray (but relatively harmless) dogs who live around the lake. At least five of them decided to make the walk around the lake with us, so it was a large crowd. Afterwards, one of the Dutch women invited us back to her home, where we had lunch, met her kids, and learned about the difference between Holland and the Netherlands (tricky stuff). I really liked the international vibe of the group. Although I hope to make some Turkish friends, I would also like to meet more expats here in Ankara. It never hurts to have international friends…

I’m sure you all know about the bombing that took place this past Saturday. It was shocking for us Americans, but even more so for my Turkish colleagues. In light of this awful event, I have two articles from The Atlantic that are helpful to give you some idea about what’s happening in Turkey. One was published before the attack, and the other afterwards.

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