I know it’s been nearly two weeks since my last blog post. I have no excuses, except that teaching is busy (of course all of you teachers know that– for those who don’t, try it some time!). But we are now on a week holiday (the 4.5 day Bayram religious holiday). The timing is excellent–I’ve taught for 2 weeks, and having a break now to take stock is perfect. Overall, the first two weeks have gone really well. The students are wonderful: keen, bright, patient, and friendly. In my intro physics course I have four sections (three grade 9 and one grade 10), so the challenge there is keeping track of where I have left each class off! I plan the same material for each of the sections, and ideally I would get to the same point with each one. But of course that doesn’t happen. For instance, this week I spent more time going over homework questions with one section (which is important), and a fire drill interrupted another section’s class. I want to make sure that each of the sections learns everything they need to! Moreover, I’ve also got to stay roughly synchronized with the other 7 sections being taught by three other teachers. Of course, we all have our different approaches and order in which we do things, but by each of the tests all of the sections need to be at the same point. In my Modern Physics course, the challenge is keeping these grade 11 and 12 students engaged– this is an elective course (so that’s good, I have a lot of freedom), so they are all very keen and bright (only the top students get to take this course). They are also very lively, and there are many animated discussions breaking out in class; this is good, but it can be difficult to get the class back to discuss things.
So teaching, marking, and preparing keeps me very busy. And it will continue. After the break, my astronomy club (which I’m doing with another teacher) will start. This should be fun. I’ve got lots of possible ideas, including trying to arrange a star-gazing session in a dark area outside Istanbul (and maybe we could connect with another school, and do some astronomy outreach), astronomy activities such as looking at the moon, sun, and planets, and maybe having the students get data from a robotic telescope. There’s also some nice non-school things going on, including yoga, Tuesday fish dinners on campus, and Turkish language lessons starting soon. Oh, and also a book club (our first book will be The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August– we bought it as an e-book online, and Dale has been really enjoying it so far. I’ve been reading two excellent books: Strolling Through Istanbul by John Freely (who is a physics prof at nearby Bosphorus University), and Birds Without Wings by de Bernieres).
A few days ago I visited the Sakip Sibanci Museum, which is about half an hour by bus further up the Bosphorus. Though it turns out that Sundays are very busy on the Bosphorus, and about halfway there I got out and walked, as it was faster! The Museum was quite interesting, in particular a travelling exhibition called Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow really caught my eye, and here are some pictures from my trip:
Most recently, Dale, I, and two other new teachers (Ally and Jahn) spent two days in Gallipoli/Canekkale. I was very keen to visit Gallipoli, since my Dad’s uncle had died there. It was quite a moving experience. Here is my reflection that I posted on Facebook (for those non-Facebook users, I urge you to join and become FB friends with me, as I post more pictures there with comments).
“Four of us spent two days in the Gallipoli-Çanakkale region this week. On Monday afternoon we had a tour of Gallipoli, specifically North Beach, Anzac Cove, Brighton Beach, Ari Burnu, Lone Pine, The Nek, and Chunuk Bair. Most of the people on the tour were Australians. I also had a reason to go: my great-uncle on my father’s side, James Clyde Bridges, was an Australian who died at the age of 23 on his first day of “action” in Gallipoli. He fought with the Australian Infantry’s 3rd Battalion, and is commemorated at the Lone Pine memorial (which commemorates Australian and New Zealand soldiers with unknown graves). It was unexpectedly moving for me to see his name on the memorial. I am also reflecting on the senseless loss of young lives: about 55,000 Allied dead (UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Canada/Newfoundland), and 125,000 wounded; and a similar number of Turkish soldiers dead and wounded. All of that for nothing– after 8 months the Allies abandoned the campaign. We saw so many cemeteries and battle sites where thousands of men died in hours or days. Sigh. Gallipoli is very important in Turkish history, where Mustafa Kemel Ataturk became a national hero, and it led to Turkish independence in 1923.”
Here are some pictures below. A couple of notes: Please read Ataturk’s words, they are very moving; on the picture of me, look for J.C. Bridges to the left; and remember that Allies and Turkish soldiers died in the tens of thousands:
We spent a night and afternoon in Canekkale, which is a lovely city, highly recommended. Our hotel had a lot of character, right in the city center, and we enjoyed exploring the waterfront and the Naval Museum (at the Museum, Dale and I talked to one young soldier who was spending his compulsory military service there– he had a very positive outlook, being grateful that he hadn’t been posted to a place where he’d have to fight).
Finally, we spent a morning exploring Troy. I hadn’t expected much of Troy, being told that other sites such as Ephesus were much better. However, it turned out to be quite interesting and I learned a lot. For instance, I had no idea that there are actually 9 (at least) distinct villages/cities on top of each other, since the third century BC. And I also learned that it’s not clear if the Trojan War ever happened (and the Trojan Horse story is particularly hazy). Again, some pictures:
Okay, that’s it from me! Here’s an addition from Dale …
We traveled on a small bus and had quite a ride. At one point when we were leaving Istanbul, the driver stopped on a very busy multi lane highway (similar to the 401 around Toronto), hopped out, dodged the speeding traffic, crossed to the other side and escorted a traveller from another bus back across the median to our vehicle!
I’m sure people have been following the Syrian Refugee crisis, as thousands of displaced families leaving their home country devastated by war are trying to make their way to other places via land and sea. These refugees are encountering mixed responses from different countries in the EU, who are to meet again soon to try and come up with a more coordinated plan. On our bus travel from Istanbul to the Gallipoli Peninsula, we passed a large group of refugees walking along the freeway and it was heartbreaking.
I was pleased to see the efforts from groups in Kingston, our wonderful home town, to raise money to sponsor Syrian refugee families!
Terry and Dale, Sep 24 2015