Kids Field Note: Tola Bourgeois (Tola B.)
Tola B. is eight years old. He lives with his mom in a small part of Istanbul called Şişli where he goes to school. His mom is the director of my program and this weekend our program took a trip together to the Northern Aegean in Turkey over the weekend and Tola came with us. Pretty neat, right? Imagine traveling all over the country with a group of college students and your mom! It was just another fun trip for Tola though.
We passed notes and pictures to each other on the seven-hour bus ride to the Aegean coast. He was in charge of counting the people on the bus every time we stopped and he chose to count us in Turkish. I asked him if he liked to speak Turkish or English. He said he likes speaking English because it’s easier but counting in Turkish is, “more fun” according to him and I definitely agreed. Read more about Tola and his life as a kid in Istanbul!
What is your house like?
I live in a four floor apartment building with only one friend my age who lives upstairs. Our apartment has a living room, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms, a kitchen and two balconies. It’s pretty big.
What do you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
For breakfast I eat cereal but most people in Turkey eat white cheese, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast. I eat a hot lunch at school everyday, but the food is pretty yucky. Usually, I eat chicken, eggplant, and rice. For dinner, I eat salad, köfte (meatballs) and rice. My babaanne (father’s mother) is a good cook so I eat a lot when I stay with her.
What chores do you have at home?
I don’t have any chores but my mom gets mad when I don’t clean up my mess.
What jobs do your parents have?
My mom directs a study abroad program for U.S. students in Istanbul. My dad is a real estate agent.
What time does school start, and what time do you go home?
School starts at 8:20 AM and ends at 3:45 PM. My mom works late, so I go to an “etüd” (afterschool daycare) where I do my homework and draw pictures. My mom picks me up from there at 6:30 PM.
How do you get to school? Are you allowed to go to school by yourself?
My mom walks me to school, so I’m not allowed to go by myself. Maybe next year.
What do you eat for lunch, and where do you eat? What is your favorite food?
I eat lunch at school but I usually don’t like the food. My favorite food is köfte (meatballs), salad, apple juice, and rice or potato salad.
What language do you speak at school? How do you say “Hello”? in your language?
I speak Turkish at school and I’m also learning Italian. Merhaba is hello in Turkish. Ciao is hello and goodbye in Italian.
What are some common kids’ names at your school?
Arda, Ayşe, Can (pronounced like John) are common names at my school.
What subjects do you study in school, and which one is your favorite?
I study: Turkish, Social Sciences, and Math. We also study art, music, computers, P.E., Italian, chess, and drama. My favorite subjects are computers, chess, and art.
What is your homework like?
Usually we have a couple of pages of math, Turkish, Social Sciences. It’s boring and it’s sometimes really hard.
What do you like to do after school? Do you have a favorite sport or game?
I like to watch cartoons and play computer games. I like Minecraft best. I go to fencing class twice a week (on Thursday evening and Sunday morning).
What kinds of music do you listen to?
Rock. Beastie Boys, Beck, Michael Jackson.
What would you like to be when you grow up?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
France or Italy.
What do you know or think about the United States?
It’s hot, and usually you have to have a car to get around. I like the U.S. better than Turkey because you don’t have to wear a uniform at school and you can play in the streets. I have visited California several times.
What questions do you have for kids in the United States?
1. What’s your favorite computer game?
2. Do you think you are luckier because you live in the U.S.?
3. Have you ever seen a big storm?