My Favorite Turks

Let me tell you about something important to me. Yesterday was the last day of class for my IB certificate seniors, kids I’ve taught for two years. I love each and every one of them.

I decided to make flourless chocolate cake, (two cakes, actually) and invite them to my lojman (apartment) to celebrate a rewarding two years together. As I raced out of the building at 1:40, four of them met me outside and walked with me to my lojman. I recruited them to whip up topping (the directions are in THEIR language, after all), slice strawberries, and serve my very favorite, bitter-chocolate-rich cake. They dove right in. Libby was excited to see them, but got a bit shy once all 20 of them had arrived. She spent the rest of the party under the bed.

My Kitchen Crew
I’ve never had a relationship like this with an entire class–I LOVE these kids,! All 20 of them. Of course, it hasn’t been perfect all the time. I’ve been frustrated with them on occasion, as I’m sure they have been with me. IB was new to all of us, and we had to feel our way through it. They showed their mettle with insightful class disscusions, analytical writing, and incredibly creative class presentations. Part of our Wednesday gathering was remembering the hilarious things some of them did this year: Zeynep as Paris Hilton, Iraz wandering the classroom as a homeless person, and Selim Can (John) as a Macbeth Mafioso. None was more hilarious, though, than the interview of Haluk, a poor African person, giving straight-faced gibberish answers to his interpreter, who translated them into English for his interviewer and audience. I can’t belive we didn’t wet our pants , we laughed so hard.

Together we’ve weathered comparative commentaries, mock orals, and individual oral presentations, and somehow we’ve bonded through it all. As I said, I LOVE these kids!


It makes me sad to hear that some senior English teachers are relieved to see their students leave. O.K. I admit that even my 20 proteges have been a challenge lately. They always have OSS workbooks in their laps. It takes me five or ten minutes to settle them down at the start of class. Sometimes one or two of them even fall asleep in class. (NEVER have I allowed that in my 32 years of teaching–these kids are WIPED.) They study non-stop,seldom getting to bed before midnight. Their lives are ruled by dershane classes (cram school) and the OSS. English class is mere fluff at this point. I’m sorry they have to go through this, but in spite of it all, I’ve done my best to prepare them for the IB exams in May. I think they’ll do well if they try. I hope they do.

I’ll miss them all. I’ll miss them a lot.

Four of them are coming to the States next year–Zeynep to the University of Chicago, a mere 11 hours away. Denizhan will be at Middlebury, Iraz at Brandeis, and Haluk will be somewhere out East. I’m sure Selim Can will join them the following year, either at Harvard or Yale. I’m sure I’ll visit each of them.

Of course, I’ll return to visit the others in Turkey, maybe next winter. My ticket home this summer is a round-trip fare :).

As I said, I LOVE these kids! How lucky can one get?


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