Week 2 of teaching is complete. And when I say “teaching” I mean that I’ve sat in an empty classroom for numerous hours and no students have arrived. And when I say “complete,” I mean that I’m currently sitting in one of my classrooms but it is, (un)fortunately empty.
I do have one class of bright, dedicated students from the medical school. We have had tons of laughs and they are wonderfully energetic. Most of them claim to be shy, but then they will talk and talk whenever I ask them questions. They have an intermediate level of English already which has made class activities very fun. Yesterday, I had them use a map of Turkey to show me where their towns were and what they are famous for. One girl said “we are famous for our big, beautiful dogs” and the boy sitting next to her said “and we are famous for our big, beautiful women.” Another town is apparently famous for their extremely large tomatoes. Just like Arkansas! Other than these medical students, I’ve had exactly zero students come to class.
We found out this week that all of the courses we are teaching are non-compulsory. Students in the hazirlik program fall into two camps. In the first camp are modular students who must pass the hazirlik program in order to pursue the rest of their degree at the University. In the second camp are students who must “attend” the hazirlik program, but who will continue with their degree even if they fail every single course this year. The incentive to attend courses (especially mine which are at 8am) is next to nothing. Of course, we were also warned that many students will not attend courses until after Kurban Bayram (the sacrifice holiday) which occurs on October 4th this year. Maybe after the holiday, we will have students.
In addition to lesson planning, (not)teaching, and getting to know Erzurum, I’ve taken on an editing project for the friend of our Dean. She just finished up her post-doc at Yale and has asked me to edit an article about ICU nurses’ intervention approaches to delirium in elderly patients. We’ve worked on it three days this week and hopefully will settle on a final-ish copy this afternoon. She is adorable, loves America, and brings me Nutella filled cookies.
This week I also spent time with an Economics professor who loves speaking with Americans to practice his English. He took my fellow ETAs and I out to lunch on Wednesday and told us hilarious stories about his life. He has worked on sustainable, small-scale, regional economic development in Turkey for 30 years and is now a chief consultant to the UN in the Millennium Development Goals. He also told us that, when he was about 18, he traveled to England to learn English. He got a job as a waiter for a few months in London. One afternoon, a couple “spoiled English boys” began to taunt him as he waited on their table. They began to berate him, threw their food on the ground, and finally refused to pay. He was terrified about any conflict since his visa was “in a fragile state” so he tried to sneak away into the kitchen. Suddenly, he saw this “short, red-haired fireball” stalk up to his table, jerk the boys up by their collars, and take them out of the restaurant. The man soon walked back in and told our friend that he had been the Irish feather-weight boxing champ for many years and that those boys would never both him again.
Our econ professor then told us “I am thankful for those spoiled boys. The story is so good, how could I not be.”