One of the most enjoyable parts of my time in the classroom is doing art projects with these generally interested and hilarious Turkish students. Fulbright gave us a a great teaching resource called “Create to Communicate” and many of the suggested activities combine art with language learning. Most of my classes include at least one activity where the students draw, sculpt, or create something. I’ve found that they really enjoy it. Maybe its because they don’t often get a chance to express their creativity when they study English 40 hours a week. Regardless of why, its clear they like it so I’m sticking with it.
In addition to the art in the classroom, my daily life is often touched by the Turkish artistic sentiment. The city of Erzurum is full of public art in the form of sculptures, murals, and more. The other areas of Turkey that I’ve visited are similarly full of beautiful or strange art. I walked around campus this week to take pictures of some of the sculptures and tried to translate the descriptions. Here are a few:
Yesterday, after tennis club, a few of my fellow sportsmen and women went out for tea at the local community center. The center is located at the base of Palandoken mountain which is currently covered in deep snow. We sat outside with blankets and tea in the crisp fall air. Our conversation centered on art, cinema, and Turkish love of Gold. I learned about a tradition called “Gün,” where women gather in the house of a different friend each month to talk, drink tea, and exchange gold. Its a sort of coming of age ritual where you invest in the future of your friends by giving them gold coins (usually worth between 150-300TL) or American dollars. One of our colleagues is having her gün next month and invited me to come. Good thing I brought some $$$.