Saturday, May 24, 2008

Getting Ready for the Biggest Adventure of My Life

In February, I attended a recruitment fair in Seattle for international teaching jobs, and I accepted a 2-year teaching position at Bilkent International School (BIS) in Ankara, Turkey.

BIS is an international IB school (International Baccalaureate -- an internationally-recognized diploma program which is rigorous and whole-child oriented...not only stressing academics, but also creativity, community service, action, etc.) I will be teaching 11th and 12th grade IB English to English-proficient students (90% are Turkish, many of whom have lived abroad and are the children of professors, international businessmen, etc.) who plan on going to good American universities. Similar to my current position, I will be teaching writing, speaking, listening, media/global issues, and reading (including texts such as Othello, 1984, The Glass Managerie, The Age of Innocence, Things Fall Apart, Pygmalion).

The school is on a university campus, and was originally built as a prep school for professors' children. I will sort of be a university employee --so free furnished housing on campus, free bus transportation to town, free Turkish language classes twice a week, grad classes at low costs, etc.
Ankara is the capital of Turkey. It has 4 million residents, and is 4 hours from Istanbul. It is the Washington DC of Turkey whereas Istanbul is the New York City of Turkey. The campus is situated atop a hill overlooking the city, and downtown is about a 20 minute bus ride away. I am told there is a trail system right by our campus,and a larger hiking area a 1/2 hour away (where a grizzly bear-relative leaves his tracks). So even though Ankara is just a tad bigger than Whitefish, Montana (hee-hee), I will be living in a quieter area and can still quickly get to a place where I can hike with bearspray and feel at home.

Western Turkey is more European than many Americans think....there is still an obvious Middleeastern feel, as it is predominantly secular Muslim. But Turkey is currently trying to become part of the European Union. The geography is super diverse -- 16,000 foot peaks, ski resorts, rock climbing, high desert, Mediterranean coast, and the history/ruins are older than ancient Greece and Rome's...biblical. The weather, surprisingly, is very similar to Montana's temperature-wise (though no -20 coldsnap in January,and certainly not as much snowfall). The school operates on an American schoolyear calendar, so breaks throughout the year, and summers off for traveling.

Bilkent is sending me to a 5-day IB training this June in Montezuma, New Mexico. Then I will be heading back East to visit family in earlyAugust, and leaving for Turkey in mid-August.

Meanwhile, I am busy finishing up the current schoolyear at the VoAg Center, hosting a garage sale, selling vehicles, shipping boxes to my mother's, obtaining a work visa, paring down my belongings, etc..

Check back in August for my first post from Turkey!!


David said...

Adventure indeed. Enjoy your preparation too; life's a journey.


Carrie said...


How exciting for you! I love your sense of adventure and your willingness to go after your heart's longing. I am sure you will learn a lot about Turkey, a new culture, and about yourself as a teacher and an open-hearted person. Best wishes--it will be fun to read your blog!

Carrie Thiel