Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day in Turkey

Today I filled my pockets with the Turkish equivalent of M & M's, pinned a homemade heart that read "Happy Valentine's Day" on my uniform, and plastered a smile on my face determined to make Valentine's Day fun and enjoyable. Here's how the day panned out:
1) Hopped on my school bus and said "Happy Valentine's Day" to the English teachers. I was met with blank stares so I made a heart with my fingers. "Oh" they replied. Then, "I don't believe in this day," and "I don't have a dear. (Turkish for boyfriend or sweetheart.)" and "Oh, I forgot."
2) Walked into the teacher's lounge. Looked for teachers wearing red or pink, gave my holiday greeting and got a couple of "thank yous."
3) Walked into my first, and least favorite, 2nd grade class. They were in the middle
of handing bundles of liras to their homeroom teacher and were very difficult to get under control. Tried some songs, Valentine vocabulary, repetition stuff, and it wasn't really working. Gave them the project to make a Valentine's card for their parents and rewarded every child who spoke in English with an M & M. The class got better and one kid was so excited about saying "Mom, I love you" with his Valentine that he ran down to the cantine where his mom was sipping tea and gave her the card.
4) Headed to kindergarten. This was only my 3rd day with this class and first day trying an art project: crayons, scissors, and glue. I way underestimated the time to color, cut, and understand a foreign teacher so they left a big mess of paper scraps, glue sticks, crayons bits, and scissors in the classroom and headed to their chess class...Oops..:)

5) Picked random kids in the hallways to say "Happy Valentine's Day" to and get them to repeat. All were rewarded with candy, of course.
6) Perfected my Valentine presentation and had very good classes for the rest of the day. One girl figured out that she wanted to say "I love my family, my mom, my dad, my cousins, my friends, my grandma, etc. very, very, very much. Happy Valentine's Day!" I love this girl!
7) Rode home on the school bus with a different teacher who was excited about meeting her boyfriend for dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day.
8) Read cool emails from my family. I love you guys!
9) And the BEST part of the day was helping my friend Sema celebrate her Valentine's Day birthday by taking her out for her first ever (drum roll for her....) bi
rthday cake. She was so happy that she cried and then I cried and then she said she would remember this day forever and she would save the card with her special treasures and she was so happy and it was so fun....
Valentine's Day does not have the same "vibe" here in Turkey. As a matter of fact, I might get phone calls from religious parents who don't like me bringing it up at all. But I focused on love of friends and family. And, it was fun.

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