September 25, 2010 § 1 Comment
This blog has been a long time coming, and I’m not going to lie, it’s because I couldn’t think of a name. How clever a pun could I make? Should it reflect only my time in Turkey? But what if I want to continue writing after I leave? I considered various names–some funny, some boring, some too vulgar to be forever linked online to my name. I can’t say I’m in love with this name, but I like it.
For those I haven’t told or who’ve forgotten, I’m spending the year in Turkey as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Namik Kemal University in Tekirdag (not nearly enough links). I arrived yesterday in my host city after spending two weeks at an orientation in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, where we were bombarded with lectures, lessons, books, and materials stating our Fulbright association. I many hours staring at J. William Fulbright’s shining face on my shiny new folder and reading his statement about the grant program: “…a modest program with an immodest aim…” A bit of Googling reveals the quote’s origin: The Price of Empire, a collection of Fulbright’s reflective essays on American foreign policy.
Some more Googling reveals two definitions for ‘immodest’:
–shameless; offending against sexual mores; indecent
–not modest in assertion or pretension; forward
Draw your own conclusions about which definition Fulbright’s quote invokes.
But seriously: this is going to be a difficult year. I’ve never taught English before, I don’t speak Turkish, and the country is extremely unfamiliar to me. My entire existence here is immodest: I am forward, I assert myself, I push myself in new and often uncomfortable directions. I take risks going to the supermarket and trying to buy bananas (‘risk’ meaning being yelled at 3 times for not knowing about the produce weighing procedure, but still). I do all of those things in Philadelphia, of course (I hope), but being in Turkey turns even the smallest of actions and reactions into conscious, deliberative decisions. I haven’t lived more “in the moment” in a while. It’s a shame that it takes moving to a new country for me to act this way, but I’m looking forward to a more assertive, pretention-full, immodest year.
I’ve had a pretty spotty blogging history, but I have a hopeful feeling this one will be different. I intend not only to catalog my experiences teaching and traveling, but also analyze my impressions of the classroom, university culture, and life in Tekirdag, and explain to you more about Turkey and the opportunities and challenges the nation faces.
I start teaching tomorrow morning–who and what I’m teaching remains to be seen, but I’ve got a lesson plan, a suit, and lots of butterflies in my stomach. Wish me luck!