Thursday, December 6, 2012

What a Day!

Wow, what is this? Miranda doesn't write on her blog for weeks, and then suddenly two days in a row? Let me tell you, I am just as surprised as you are.

I was going to wait and update things in an orderly fashion so that my life seems like series of events instead of a series of out of order messy blog posts, but I've decided that more important than either of these things is that events did happen, and they are dying to be told about. Something messy is better than nothing at all, and let me tell you that boy was I inspired today, despite having not written about my glorious November. Today was a day of all days and here is how it went.

 The day started with the absence of my English teacher, leaving me and my class with essentially four hours of free time. After spending the first period sitting around chatting and studying, we looked out the window to see that snow was falling, for the second day this year (its snowed early yesterday morning, but was all gone by the afternoon).

This is me and one of my classmates, we were so excited we ran outside to be in the snow, a friend took this out the window of our classroom.

This is us getting yelled at by a teacher leaning out of the window one floor above our classroom.

Later we all went outside and had a snowball fight, and basically the whole school joined in at break time. The snow was the ideal consistency, you barely had to touch it and it stuck together in perfectly throw-able clumps that also perfectly dispersed upon hitting the target.

The rest of the day I spent asking people what they thought about school uniforms, because two days ago the Turkish Ministry of Education decided to change the dress code for schools across the nation, allowing students to dress freely (with some restrictions) instead of having obligatory uniforms. This is kind of a big deal because school uniforms have been around for longer than anyone can remember. Even though the new rules don't officially go into effect until the coming school year, many students showed up to school today wearing jeans instead of skirts or slacks and the teachers held a meeting after school to decide if they will enforce uniforms for the rest of the year (we find out tomorrow). This decision from the ministry brings up other issues too; religious headscarves have been banned in grade schools for some time, for teachers and students alike (many of my classmates wear one to school in the morning, and put it back on in the bathroom after school)- will free dress allow them again? Don't uniforms serve an important purpose of covering up economic differences between students' families? Does it really matter what students wear or look like, aren't they only coming to school to learn? Isn't it just easier and quicker to roll out of bed and sleepily pull on the same thing everyday?

After school I had volleyball practice for my school's team, something I'm pretty proud of. I've never seriously played volleyball in my life, but I wanted to get involved with something after school, so I jumped at the opportunity when I saw a poster for tryouts. Having only the most basic understanding of the sport, I attribute my making the team solely to the fact that I read this article while brushing my teeth the morning of trying out:

Just kidding! (kind of... I really didn't know how to set a volleyball without jamming my fingers) I actually made the team because only six other girls showed up so they didn't have to cut anyone! I’m not very good (yet, heh heh heh), but it feels really good to be active and making friends outside of my class. We have our first match next week!

When I got home, two boxes were waiting for me, one from my dad and one from my grandmother, and few things are more exciting than getting mail.

Inside were candy canes and cookie sprinkles (per my request for the holiday season), as well as other excellent candies and sweets, and a plastic tub specially for making snow cubes, sand castle fill -and-dump style, to make the process of building igloos easier. I've been jealous for years since my dad mailed one to my cousins, but didn't get us one because we don't get enough snow in Seattle. I have got some big plans for this winter.

After dinner I got a call from my friend Ruby staying in Gaziantep, and between bursts of laughter she urged me to check Facebook. Not only was I tagged in a photo standing next to the American Ambassador to Turkey, I was also tagged in a video clip from NTV, a Turkish national television station, brokenly attempting to talk about a service project we did two weeks ago.

Here’s a quick low-down: December 3rd was UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Two weeks ago we took the five hour bus ride to Ankara and had an excellent Thanksgiving dinner at Stefanie’s house, the same cultural attache that we visited before, and looks after the YES students. The following weekend we took photos all around Ankara with disabled students in conjunction with a photography studio. They collected our photos (all of us YES Turkey students and the students we met in Ankara), chose the best ones and put up an exhibit in a fancy mall in Ankara for the third. This past weekend we returned to Ankara, met with our AFS liaisons over the weekend, and attended the opening of the exhibit, to which many American foreign service members attended, including the ambassador, as well as some important Turkish figures. Many news crews came, and someone tipped a reporter that Ruby and I had the best Turkish of our group, so we were interviewed about the project. Absolutely regardless of whether or not our Turkish is the best in the group or not, getting interviewed is not easy, getting interviewed with a video camera and spotlight is even less so, and after getting interviewed with a camera, spotlight, and in a language I have three months of experience in, I’m pretty much just glad I got the gist of her questions and that words actually came out of my mouth.

In the clip I managed to say ‘We watched in Ankara and now this is very nice we are very excited.’ (I was trying to say I was glad we visited Ankara, but I had a minor verb mix up, though hey, I’m pretty sure I correctly conjugated everything). Ruby basically says that she has never worked with disabled students but that it was really very nice. I think Ruby has down one of the most fundamental steps in sounding like you know a language (or even just know what you’re talking about ever); you plan what you’re going to say and then you spit it out. Even if it isn't completely right, if you say it quickly and with confidence and conviction, it sounds like a million bucks.

At 0:17 you can see Ambassador Ricciardone giving pins to a few of the students we worked with.
At 1:03 you can see Şafak Pavey, a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on the left asking a question to a student. If you know what I look like really well you can see my face hovering in the background.
At 1:33 we are posing for this photo:

From left to right: back row: a woman that helped us with the photography project, a woman from the Embassy, Hana, Bridget, myself, Ambassador Ricciardone, Rya, Linnie, Şafak Pavey, Samet our AFS liaison, Stefanie who organized the project, Suderin who ran the photography part of the project. Front row: Ruby, Onur an AFS volunteer, Can our AFS liaison, Fatma the head of AFS in Turkey, the AFS coordinator at the Ankara offıce.
(Apologies to those whose names I am drawing blanks on)

At the very end, you can hear the beautiful voices of Ruby and I.

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