springtime in the Fertile Crescent

It's so beautiful here in Gaziantep right now. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Grasses are green. The smell of sweet grasses wafts through the air on trail hikes up behind Gaziantep University, etc. I have been soaking it up, after a very long absence of all things sunny this winter, every moment possible. In doing so, I have forgotten to keep up with my blog.

Suddenly I realized that I need to update all of you on this wonderful occasion of spring! Being from Hawaii it is difficult to understand this concept as in the Islands there are 4 definite cycles of spring, summer, fall & winter, but the degree of change is minor. Living in Africa & Turkey the past few years has forced me to appreciate the changing weather patterns & I have never been so relieved of the coming summer season as I have been living in this part of the world!

Spring festivals are also sprouting up all around Turkey now as well. This weekend is Gaziantep University's festival and, fortunately, it is right across the street from my apartment so I am at this moment listening to the soundcheck from my living room. It serves a dual purpose as it drowns out the sounds of construction while are also across the street from me. The municipality here in Gaziantep loves to plant trees & flowers, as well as dig up sidewalks, tram lines & roads at every chance they can.

This week I find myself at the end of the school year at the university I teach at. It was a grueling year with learning how Turkish students learn basically. I learned classroom management here, yet it was frustrating every step of the way. In the end though, I feel comfortable with the style that I came up with & seemed to work most effective. No more babbling about work though because next week is FINALS!!!

My week should be relaxing as my classes are doing interviews/video & powerpoint projects for their final exams. I've seen a few previews and I am so impressed with my students creativity & dedication. After force-feeding students in the English preparatory school bookwork for 3 terms I have been rewarded with this 4th term and got to design my own curriculum for the coveted Level E students. They are definitely the cream of the crop. I mean, they understand my jokes- and even laugh at them! We have great discussions & debates and it has renewed my spirit for sure as I was a bit leery during the 1st term in terms of what I thought I could do with a group of students fresh from high school that get separation anxiety after 5 minutes of not holding their cell phones during class. Again I digress. No more talk of work...

I'm heading off to Amerika next week & totally looking forward to a few luxuries. They are:

1. going home to Maui & hanging out at the beach
2. Mexican food in NYC
3. shopping in NYC
4. yoga
5. just being with friends/family in general

My first stop is NYC. This feels like an annex home for me. I never thought I would live in NYC so going to graduate school there was a milestone & I somehow fell in love with that city. So, it's always nice to go back. There is so much I want to see/do there that I have a long list I've been compiling for a while now. As Turkey is so expensive to buy electronics (due to importation tariffs), I have a wish list to excavate through at Tekserve downtown!!!

I need to take care of all this stuff in NYC because during the Maui journey I want to do nothing but beach, surf, suck down exotic beers & other such shenanigans that are beneficial to me...

But that journey will end soon enough and I will find myself back here in full-swing sweltering summer teaching summer school courses. Normally I wouldn't find this such an attractive thing to do, but the foreign teachers are teaching high school kids from Eastern Turkey, so I am really looking forward to this. This year I didn't make it to far-Eastern Turkey so this is on my agenda for fall- perhaps during Bayram?

Speaking of travel, I have been doing a lot of this. Here are some pictures of my last Turkey Trot to Mardin. Mardin is further east/south-east from here, and another critical area in the development of the Fertile Crescent. It borders with Syria & Iraq. The architecture is beautiful & when the sun is setting, it refracts light in such a way that they (buildings) appear to be aglow w/gold glitter.

This camii was particularly interesting to me

... and one of my favorite peeps on the planet...