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:

The plaque said something about the heroines of Erzurum and Tabular (a fortress outside town where many women fought off the Russians in the 19th century).

The plaque said something about the heroines of Erzurum and Tabular (a fortress outside town where many women fought off the Russians in the 19th century).

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Ataturk's visit to Erzurum. He was the patron of the school.

Ataturk’s visit to Erzurum. He was the patron of the school.

Erzurum Ottoman's fighting off the Russians

Erzurum Ottoman’s fighting off the Russians

Title: Palandoken Dolomite in 4

Title: Palandoken Dolomite in 4

This was titled something like "history opens its layered self"

This was titled something like “history opens its layered self”

Double-headed Eagle deonstructed.

Double-headed Eagle deonstructed.

Narnia much?

Narnia much?

The double-headed Eagle is a symbol of Erzurum and the Ottomans.

The double-headed Eagle is a symbol of Erzurum and the Ottomans.

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 $$$.

Finally, on an unrelated note, I drank this yestserday: IMG_1063
Purple Turnip juice with chili powder. I tried… but it was beyond me.

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