In the spirit of Thanksgiving, which was just over a week ago, I would like to mention a few items from the past week or so that I am feeling thankful for.
- I am thankful, oh so thankful, to have made it to the end of Track 1. For each new track (the trimesters in the English Preparatory program), the students are shuffled into new groups and teachers are assigned new teaching schedules. I’m imagining reformed groups in which the students, now separated from their old talking buddies, gaze attentively at me in class…I’m imagining material that students will show an interest in learning…I’m imagining a world in which we all come out of the classroom enriched and smiling. I’ve heard that the students act worse in Track 2 than Track 1, but no! I must hope for better. And let me rejoice that the Track 1 classes are no more.
- I am thankful that I will go see my folks for 10 days at the end of January! It will be winter break for the students, but teachers are pretty much always expected to be on campus. Family health, however, is the golden excuse, so when my dad was in the hospital a couple of weeks ago battling ongoing health issues, I decided to make the most of the situation. I am also thankful to have found a very good ticket price; I guess not many people want to go from Turkey to Boston in January. I sure do! I won’t feel as sad at Christmas, knowing that I’ll get a late celebration with my family. Keep watering that Christmas tree, Mom!
- I was excited last week to take a 6-hour bus ride to and from Eskişehir, a city northeast of Izmir, for the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) Turkey Conference. I love riding the bus in other countries, so I was content as could be to sit and look out the window for that time. That’s a good thing, because otherwise I may have been disappointed that the American movies offered on the console had all been dubbed. I must say that it was a surprise to see Veggie Tales on offer…who knew Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber had found their way to Turkey and learned Turkish? The bus made quick stops every couple of hours, including a 25-minute stop halfway through at a roadside place where you could buy lunch. A number of other conferees were on my bus back to Izmir, which made for a fun and rather informative trip since I could ask them questions along the way.
- Attending this conference allowed me not only to get out and about, but to see the city known as “The Venice of Turkey.” Of course I had to see what that was all about, so I found my way to downtown Eskişehir on the tram both evenings. There was a picturesque canal that twisted through the downtown with bridges connecting the shops, cafes, and restaurants that lined the banks. It was a cute and bustling area decorated with golden statues of people and animals. I can’t say that Venice would have naturally sprung to mind, but, okay. I suppose there’s probably no place in Turkey that looks more like Venice. For my Thanksgiving dinner I chose a little Turkish restaurant where I had a ground beef mixture wrapped in lavash (like a tortilla) with yogurt and a tomato-y sauce over it. Getting back to the hotel hit a snag when I couldn’t find a place to buy my tram ticket. I finally found out that I needed to go to the convenience store across the street. From my ensuing conversation with the man there, I gathered that either he was out of tickets, or perhaps he had sold his tram-ticket business to his friend across the street, or maybe he was recommending the ice cream bars. Anyway, no ticket. Eventually I offered money to a man who was bringing his family through the turnstiles, and he swiped an extra time for me. Thanks, helpful guy!
- I am thankful for the lunch I got at the farmer’s market yesterday: rotisserie chicken and gözleme. Gözleme is a Turkish version of a quesadilla, and there are a few couples at the farmer’s market on Sunday who make them. I got one with eggplant spread and cheese. The man with rotisserie chickens took one off a spit and slid it onto a long, flat, thin piece of bread which he then wrapped around the chicken. It was the first time I had gotten either of these things, but it won’t be the last.
- Finally, I am extremely thankful for those of you who are joining me here via this blog…it makes a real difference to me! Thank you, and Happy Belated Thanksgiving!