Friday, February 18, 2011

Recycling Center in Ankara

Turkey is one of those countries that is working hard to make great strides forward in a short time. In their effort to gain a space in the European Union, they are making a lot of changes to things here. One of those changes is to bring the country up to speed on environmental issues. Modern Turkey has only been a country since the 20s and so they've been running while most other countries have been walking. It's hard but they are making efforts and hopefully it will catch on country-wide soon.
Yesterday, our grade one students got to go to one of the recycling centers in Ankara to look at how it is done here. It's a far cry from the modern plants in other countries, but they are trying and they are recycling. Our students at BLIS are going to be the ones who make the changes to this country to bring it to an equal standing with some of it's European neighbours so taking them there and having them see it was wonderful and educational for all. Here are some photos of the recycling plant:
These huge bales of paper ready to go off to a recycling center were everywhere... there were bales of bottles, tin, plastic, tetra pack boxes and so on. These was more of a sorting depot.

Some of the hand sorting that was done on the ground level.

One of the workers explaining how they operate at this center to our students and teachers.

Above where the yellow section is is a conveyor belt where ladies stand and sweep materials down the correct holes to go into these caged bins. It seems disorganized but was working pretty well from what we could see.

More sorting cages.

We noticed this little puppy sleeping on top of a pile of non-recyclables... street dogs are common here in Turkey and are often fed scraps from workers etc. but it was sure cold out there. Poor puppy!!


One of my favourite parts of my job is being able to coach students. Teaching is incredibly special, but coaching takes you to a different level with students. And what I love is that I am working with an entirely different age group of students and am able to impact more students differently. A couple of weeks ago, our girl's basketball team played some very gracious members of our female staff and one member of our Parent Teacher Association. I am so grateful for these ladies coming out and helping our girls learn how to better play the game. I promised not to post any crazy pictures (and there were some) but I couldn't let this great moment pass without some recognition!!

The grown ups getting some pointers from my co-coach. I think she may have been telling to just make a big mess of things for our girls. I know I told them to do that!!

Working that ball around in passes.

I'm pretty sure that shot went in, but they were there for the rebound just in case.

Our girls bringing the ball down the court.

Our lovely spectators/score keepers/photographers! Thanks for taking the shots and keeping score. The BLIS ladies beat the teachers by 10 points and it was a great game. Can't wait until the next one, I'm playing for sure! <3

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Living life in another language and culture is always full of surprises. Like the surprise when you go to a market and one of the stall keepers hands you some free produce. Like the surprise when you go to a restaurant and you get a free cup of tea or coffee or a little chocolate with your coffee because they are excited to have a foreigner in their place of business. Like the surprise when a taxi won't stop for you because of the colour of your skin. Like the surprise of being pushed or bumped. Like the surprise of not being able to find what you need or want.

Or, like the surprise I woke up with this morning. I woke up to -6 degree Celsius temperatures in and outside of my apartment. I didn't think too much about it because coming out of a warm, cozy bed the morning air always feels less than nice. But when I went into my shower and realized that the water was refusing to warm up, I knew I was in for a surprise. Originally I thought it was just my building but once I got to school I realized that there was no heat here either. Later I found out the cause of my surprise, apparently a gas leak on the main campus caused the guard house to blow up in the middle of the night. The guard was injured quite badly from what I hear and the entire campus that supports thousands of people is without heat, hot water or gas. The real surprise here is that classes and schools weren't shut for the day in order to fix the problem like it would be at home in Canada.

Life overseas is full of surprises, not all good ones but not all bad either. I guess that's the exciting part of life lived in the expat way, everyday has the opportunity to surprise you!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Students Reaching Out

Today I finally pulled up my socks and did something that I've wanted to do since getting here and just made a million excuses not to do... today I joined the small group of high school students who go weekly to a rehabilitation centre for poorer families. These families aren't all from the Ankara region, in fact many come from smaller villiages farther away. Their children have suffered some kind of mental or physical injury or illness and are in need of medical attention and a place where they can go to learn skills and ways to cope. The mothers come with their children and live there for up to 3 months at a time, often leaving behind other children and a husband at home. It's difficult to split the families, but for the love of their children in a society that doesn't recognize a need for special education in mainstream schools. I applaud their efforts and it was wonderful to go into this centre and spend some time with the high school students and these lovely Turkish children. More than one of them tugged at my heart strings with their gorgeous smiles and giggles. It felt good to go and give back to a part of my host country. I hope that others will find the time to do the same. The children really benefit from the one-on-one attention, and so do the mothers as they can take a small rest and watch their children smile and laugh. Anyway, I felt honoured to be a part of it and I can't wait to do it again. I also felt really proud to teach in a school that encourages the kids to do this kind of thing... giving back is a far better educational experience than sitting in any classroom!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sick Days

Sick days are different when you teach internationally. Sometimes you are lucky and your school can provide a substitute for you (this is usually done when a school employs a full-time sub or two, but with only one or two subs for an entire k-12 school, it gets a little dicey). More often than not, you being out sick means extra work for your colleagues. My teaching partner was out for an entire week earlier in the year and I had to cover some of the lessons she would normally do, and I had to arrange for others to cover the lessons I simply couldn't (my Turkish just isn't that good yet). Everyone is kind and offers to help and pick up lessons for you, but no doubt about it, it is a strain. So today when I woke up with some kind of kink in my back, I opted to suck it up and tough it out by going to school. I don't know how the kink came about as I woke up in the night and felt fine and then when morning came I couldn't hold up my own head. Once my teaching partner saw me, she sent me home. I love her for that as the pain is beyond my control, and the help of 2 muscle relaxants. But as I sit at home, bored out of my mind and in more pain than I have known in a long time I worry. Most teachers worry what the sub is doing to their class, but I worry about those having to take over my lessons and duties when they are busy themselves and desperately need the prep times that they have and the breaks in the day. I know that they know I'd do it for them and it eases some of the burden, but international schools just aren't the same. We are colleagues, friends and pseudo families for each other, so I worry about overstepping boundaries or annoying others by taking the time off. So there you go... another peak into the life of international teachers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Exciting Expat Life

Just in case you thought that all us foreign expats are out there running around doing exciting and exotic things all the time, I thought I'd post this:

This was how I spent the better part of my evening on Monday night. Yes, that's right, I defrosted my little teeny freezer. Not all fridges in Turkey are like this anymore but those of us blessed with a slightly older model are also blessed with this chore. So this was what it looked like when I first started... I'd done a little scrapping and work with my hairdryer so it was a little worse than this.

This is what it looks like now... well, with a bottle of Grey Goose and a box of fish in there. Sounds lame, I know, but it was exciting to get this done. It was pretty quick too. I followed the sage advice of my mother and kept putting boiling pots of water in there to steam and melt the ice. It took about 2 hours of changing pots and the occasional pulling off of ice and blasting with the hair dryer to get it done, but it was pretty easy.

So the next time you envy your expat friends who are off living some grand adventure in your minds, revisit this post... it's not all adventures and exotic locations with crazy interesting things happening all the time. Sometimes it's just doing laundry, cooking dinner, cleaning the dishes and defrosting freezers.