How is the semester already over? Hopefully you have learned a bit about Turkey, and about the world. Will you keep learning about other people, places and cultures? I hope so!
I feel so very lucky to have been able to spend this year in Turkey, and also grateful I had the opportunity to share some of my experiences with you. I hope you have learned a little bit about Turkey, and a little bit about the world! I have had such an amazing year in Turkey, in fact, that I am planning to return for one more year. I will be teaching English at a new university that was just established this year. It is located in Adana, a major city with over 2 million people just an hour west of where I live now. I am excited!
Although I have tutored people in the English language before, I did not have actual classroom experience prior to coming to Turkey. I have found that I love being in the classroom. I enjoy having a classroom full of students who, even if they are not really interested in the subject matter, have to be there. That means I have a chance to connect with them and possibly change their attitude towards the subject matter. In this case, English. Many Turkish students have no interest in learning English. Maybe they find it difficult, useless or boring. After all, everyone around them speaks Turkish. What’s the use? But throughout the year, we found one use: to be able to communicate with their teacher! Although I am also learning Turkish, my purpose for being here is to teach them English. So, first of all, I needed to inspire them. Though I cannot say every student became interested, I know I inspired a good number of them to pick up their pace and learn a few more words and phrases. They wanted to learn about me, where I am from, what I am doing here, and to do so they needed to speak a little English.
Although I do not plan to continue teaching English forever, I do want to continue teaching. My interest in this region of the world was broadened, and I now plan to study more so that I can become a professor of anthropology. This will allow me to continue learning about this region, as well as other regions of the world, and about people and cultures. I will also be able to share what I learn with students, who will hopefully be somewhat interested. If they are not, I hope that I can spark some interest with my enthusiasm, patience and experience.
Due to many cultural differences, there have been countless obstacles thrown my way this year. Most of them, however, I overcame, or at least found a way to deal with them. Rather than be constantly annoyed that things are not going the way I had hoped, I chose to see each obstacle as a new path that could lead to something even better. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t, but if I remain hopeful and open minded, realizing I might actually learn something from the new direction the situation is going, then there is something for me to gain. Even if it turns out negative, I will learn something. I love learning, so this is a good deal for me.
Maybe it is more about someone’s character, but I really think we all have the ability to think positively. It is important to be realistic, but it is helpful to those around you to see the bright side of things. Often, it could be worse than it is. Sometimes this can be funny. Maybe something terrible happens. For example, you are at a busy restaurant with your friends. You are wearing a cute new outfit, and you are feeling good. Suddenly, your friend accidentally spills his large Coke in your lap. Ahh! You jump up. Of course you are surprised. You might be angry. But what is the point? He didn’t mean to. The drink spilled, it is all over your new pants. Besides cleaning it up, there is not much to be done. So why not look at the positive? After all, at least it wasn’t hot coffee. That would have been so much worse! There is no need in making your friend feel bad. Surely he already does. The best way to handle it is to laugh at the situation. Now your lunch might be all the more memorable.
For most situations, we have a choice in how we handle it. Being harsh, negative or making someone else feel bad never helps anything. Try to think creatively and turn a negative situation into a positive one. It will make everyone around you happier, and I bet it will make you happier too. Try it!
Whatever you chose to believe in, whichever faith or religion you prefer to follow, my opinion is that it is constructive to accept others’ choices as well. The world is exciting and incredible because it is made up of so many different people. We are each unique. We should respect each other, accept our differences and learn from each other. Life can be much richer if we take the time to get to know others; people who look different, speak a language other than our own, eat different foods, believe in a different religion. You proved this semester that you are interested in learning about other places and other people. I hope that you continue on your journey for knowledge about the world and the people and cultures that make up the world. Even in your own classroom, each person is unique. Talk to each other. Learn from each other. Accept each other for who you are.
Thank you for joining me this semester. Thank you for your interest! Even though the semester is over, I am still available. As I mentioned, I will be in Turkey for another year, so if you think of any questions or want to talk about anything, I will be happy to stay in touch!