Category Archives: Art

Winding Down

Collection of memories.

I’ve been a founding member of the Nasher Sculpture Center Teacher Advisory Board since its inception in 2010. I fondly remember being asked to join months after my daughter moved to California to attend university, all those years ago. Because of her move out of state, I chose to delay moving overseas for another 4 years. When I joyfully accepted this position on the Board, it gave me a renewed interest in teaching, art and conceptual conversations around contemporary subjects of education.

 

 

The Nasher Sculpture website reads, “The Nasher Sculpture Center’s Teacher Advisory Board was formed in 2010 to help the education department better serve the needs of North Texas educators. Since then, teachers in this group have provided valuable feedback on programming and curriculum—from tours and workshops to online teaching materials and family days. The Advisory Board is comprised of educators who teach a variety of disciplines to students of all ages. The group has been instrumental in the creation of self-guided tour materials for school groups and new teaching resources focused on Materials and Process in sculpture.”

 

I suspended my Board membership when I moved to Istanbul (2013-2015), but when I returned to Dallas in 2016, the Nasher Education staff welcomed me back with open arms. I was grateful, as I’d been suffering from reverse culture shock and had found it difficult to make my way back into American culture. Since then, I’ve regularly participated in meetings and events with this strong team of art educator friends. I will miss this monthly gathering of friends as I venture away from Dallas on my next international educational experience this summer.

Our last meeting of the 2018 school year was held at The Warehouse, an exhibition, storage and library building in North Dallas, in which the Howard Rachofsky and the late Vernon Faulconer’s contemporary art collection is housed. What a delight! Thomas Feulmer, Director, gave us a private tour of the new exhibition and I was happy to see that many foreign artists were on display in this unimaginable private art collection.

I arrived early and upon entering the industrial type building, I needed to wash my hands. Stepping into the Women’s Restroom, just beside the uncluttered, white and pristine entryway, I was in for a shock! The black and white patterned markings of Japanese artist, Shuji Mukai, surrounded me in every direction. I felt as thought I had walked into a painting; I was a part of my surroundings in an unfamiliar way. It was magical to see myself reflected in the big mirror amid the powerful pictographic signs. After washing my hands, I lightly touched the paper, hand towel. I was careful because I wanted to take it with me! I couldn’t bear tossing it in the bin because it was also adorned with the artist’s markings. After photographing each of the stalls, and leaving the room, I knocked on the Men’s Restroom door and spoke, “Is anyone in here?” With no answer, I opened the Men’s door. Not feeling 100% I was alone, I chose to NOT walk into the space, but from the doorway I clicked my camera, focusing on one urinal.

Afterward, I drove home and crawled into bed feeling grateful for the Nasher Sculpture Center and Warehouse staff and my NTAB friends. Each of them have deepened my understanding of contemporary art. The relationships that have grown out of this connection cannot be duplicated. I will miss all of you. I reflected upon how it felt to be surrounded in an environment so different from what I was used to. I will soon experience this feeling again as I take my new job in Chennai, India this summer.

What new experience, or environment, will you put yourself in this week?

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Hello. It’s Been Awhile.

Hello.

It’s Me.

I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet,
To go over everything.
They say that time’s supposed to heal ya
But I ain’t done much healing . . .
(Song lyrics by Adele)

This month is my two year anniversary of being back in Dallas, my home. I’ve spent these last two years in deep reflection, trying to mend my broken, homesick-for-Istanbul, repatriating heart. Some days have been full of love and laughter, but many others were filled with deep sadness and longing. I’ve turned over every rock hoping to re-discover my identity and to make peace with who I became in Turkey.

Looking back at photos over the last two years, I made a list of all the good things that I’ve experienced. I don’t want to forget my time here because 2018 will be a year of extraordinary change for me.

  • Just after moving back, I participated in a 4-hour long historic tour of Dallas. It started at Lee Harvey’s and ended at Clyde Barrow’s grave.
  • I’ve wandered through historic Fair Park and marveled at the beautiful Art Deco monuments and architecture. I’ve also explored the Butterfly Gardens.
  • I’ve had two different apartment leases in two very different historic neighborhoods of Dallas: Oak Cliff, near the Bishop Arts District and Uptown, near Downtown’s Arts District.
  • I’ve been able to visit my daughter and her husband in San Diego, CA numerous times and they’ve visited me in Dallas. I’ve enjoyed spending the weekend with friends in Austin, Texas, and was able to see young friends tie the knot in Palm Springs, CA. I’ve travelled internationally to London, Switzerland and Mexico.
  • I’ve been able to spend holidays and birthdays with family and I’ve enjoyed watching my niece and nephew grow up. I’ve been able to care for my elderly mom and help her with many things.
  • I’ve experienced rapid population growth and expansion of Dallas in the last two years. I’ve personally observed skyscrapers, apartments and corporate offices being built all over the metroplex as more and more companies move to Texas.
  • I’ve been proud to help my brother and my sis-in-law expand their family business and learn new skills. I’ve been able to learn about an entire new industry.
  • Out of personal loneliness I created two new communities in Dallas. I started a Mah Jong group in Oak Cliff and I started a Global Education Group within InterNations Dallas. Both groups provided me much needed friendships and both groups continue to thrive.
  • As a member of InterNations Dallas, I’ve been able to participate in international experiences through a variety of cultural activities. Highlights include a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, a Thailand and an Armenian festival, a Middle Eastern Iftar dinner during Ramadan, a Polish book club meeting and a group trip to San Miguel Allende for Dia de las Muertas.
  • I’ve been able to help others through HRI (Human Rights Initiative of North Texas), deliver food on Thanksgiving with Operation Turkey Dallas and help with the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.
  • After a terror attack on my city, I experienced shock and mourning when five police officers were shot and killed in 2016 less than 3 miles from my home. In 2017 I participated in a prayer vigil at Dallas’ Thanksgiving Square for the Las Vegas victims following another domestic terror attack and I’ve just marched with thousands of my neighbors in the 2018 Dallas Women’s March.
  • I’ve played tennis regularly and have explored my city on foot in my Uptown neighborhood. I have loved having access to Klyde Warren Park, Griggs Park and the Katy Trail.
  • I’ve been fortunate to see many wonderful art exhibitions at my favorite place, The Nasher Sculpture Center, where I still participate as a member on the Nasher Teacher Advisory Board.

Most of all, I’ve made so many new friends, many from other nations. Dallas has indeed become an international city seemingly overnight. I frequently pass people speaking other languages on my daily walks. After two years, I’m beginning to feel at home again.

And yet, my heart continues to be unsettled; yearning.

I want to go.

So I looked to see what else there might be and there it was. Again I have been given a great opportunity to live inside a new culture and teach children from many nations.

And so, I go. I am so grateful. Thank you everyone. Thank you, Dallas.

Will 2018 be a year of change for you too?

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Playing The Game

img_5973Bam. Dot. Crak.

One of the things I miss the most about living overseas is having global friends from many countries. I’ve searched to find international connections in Dallas but it has been difficult. Although Dallas is a large city with a multinational population, many live in the suburban areas surrounding the metroplex and I live near downtown. I’ve found that these populations segregate themselves together in neighborhoods of people like themselves. This is so different from Istanbul. Every kind of person lived together, in close proximity, inside the crowded city. It was common to walk everywhere, so you saw, and heard, foreign people constantly on the sidewalk beside you. Here in Dallas, there are many miles between us – in more ways than one. I’ve participated in several Meetup groups hoping to find friends who have lived overseas but for one reason or another, I haven’t made the connections I’ve hoped for.

When I moved back to Dallas earlier this year, I moved to an area of town I was unfamiliar with. Hoping to find new friends close to home, an out-of-state friend mentioned that I might like to learn how to play American MahJong. This popular game has a Chinese history and is played worldwide. I searched in my area but had no luck in finding an established group. I posted a humble notification on the Next Door app to members of my new local community, and to my surprise I had 30 responses from strangers who also wanted to learn how to play. I set up a meeting place at a local restaurant and the rest is history.

In the months that followed, others jumped in to help organize and smaller groups formed based on weekday, weeknight or weekend play date availability. New friendships formed between the members and this week we celebrated our new friendships by having a holiday progressive dinner party, between three homes, right here in my neighborhood. As I looked around and observed the laughter and enjoyed the delicious food and drink, I felt so proud to have started this group and brought so many people together.

I also attended my first Internations Meetup this past week and it was so enjoyable. I sat with four women from Ukraine, Jamaica, Ireland and India. They all encouraged me to attend the upcoming holiday party. Sometimes I get discouraged because it is more difficult to find global friends here but I’ll press onward. A person can never have too many friends.

Do you live in a new place and are you lonely? What might you do to bring people together? You will be delighted at the results.

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Things I Learned

nov2016imageRemembering.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been writing schools and checking out websites of potential employers. As of this morning, there are 58 Art Teacher openings posted on the Search Associates website. As I contemplate the possibility of moving to a new country, I am reminded of all the learning that one goes through upon immersion into a new culture. I am both excited by it and unnerved by it. The adrenalin rush that an expat feels upon arrival in a new country is not easily forgotten. Cleaning out some old documents, I came across this list I made of a few of the things I learned in Turkey:

 

  1. How to pee in a hole. I will never forget a sweet, female Turkish friend bending over in laughter when I asked her how to do this. Through gulps of laughter, she shut my art room door and acted out some important strategies that all Turkish girls are taught. This knowledge forever changed my life in Turkey.
  1. How to say, “Kas lira?” (How many lira does this cost?). Then learning how to count to 30, and finally how to negotiate/haggle. I became a confident buyer before too many months.
  1. How to tolerate the smokers. Smokers are everywhere. Smoking is what people do. Both young and old people smoke. I remember thinking, “Well maybe smoking won’t actually give you cancer like we’re taught to believe in USA. There are tons of old people here and they all smoke!” I still wonder about this…
  1. How to be a calm passenger in the backseat of a taxi, with a crazy driver, and not wear a seat belt. Seat belts exist in taxis, but they are all “adjusted” so that they don’t work. Now imagine this, staying calm, with loud Turkish music playing on the radio, and slipping and sliding down very steep hills covered with snow. It was during these rides that the carefree taxi drivers would ask me, in broken English, “Where from?” When I said, “Dallas, Texas”, they would often say, “Ah, Dallas!! JR!!” I learned that people in Turkey love the show, “Dallas”.
  1. I learned who Ataturk was and why he is important to the nation of Turkey. I now know more about Ataturk than I do George Washington, and I love him too! Ataturk’s picture hangs in every classroom and in many homes. His picture hangs on street-side banners and permanent signage all over the city.
  1. How planning ahead is of no use in many countries outside the USA. The ability to organize my time, that I’ve become so good at, didn’t work in Turkey. Things change. Their cultural understanding of every thought, every decision is, “Inshallah”: If Allah wills it. I learned better how to roll with the punches and live in the moment. I’m not an expert at it, but I’m better at it now than I used to be.

As I venture onward into this recruiting season, I am faced with another season of transition. I know the excitement of moving and the hardships of immersion. Finding the right “fit” of a country, and a school, is of upmost importance. Decisions should be made carefully and wisely, and for me, with a lot of prayer.

What questions do you ask yourself to know if a big change in your future is a step in the right direction?

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Bozo in the White House

bozoupclosePresidential.

Working among many international teachers, administrators, staff and families I was surprised that everyone seemed to know what was happening in American politics-sometimes more than I did. I learned that the world pays very close attention to the USA. I think it is safe to say that most people hold on to the hope that the USA will make the “right” decision on all kinds of issues. The United States provides a beacon of hope for freedom for many in the world.

While in Turkey, I thought of myself as an American ambassador: diplomatic, hardworking, respectful and honest. I was always aware of this and it caused me to be more careful in my actions and in my speech. I wanted to represent my country well. But sometimes I became upset and embarrassed about the news coming out of the USA. My Colombian friend used to laugh when I’d ask her to explain, once again, why I shouldn’t be angry over some of my country’s decisions. Time and time again she told me that she loved the USA. She explained that because of the USA, her country had made great strides over many years and was finally doing well. From her perspective, her native country was beginning to be recognized and respected around the world. She owed it all to the USA. This friend helped me see the USA from a different vantage point than my own. Because many of my global friends kept current with American politics, I became aware of the USA through their eyes, whether they saw “us” as the good, the bad or the ugly.

bozowallWith all this in mind, I recently attended an artist talk at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. American artist, Kathryn Andrews, currently has an exhibition there called “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President“. Since my repatriation I’ve been stunned at the political arena surrounding this Presidential election. I’ve also been surprised to learn that my foreign friends are watching and wondering, with keen interest, who will be the next President of the United States. For me, I’ve been somewhat embarrassed as I try to answer their questions. When I walked into Andrews’ exhibition, I saw symbols that perfectly explained what I’d been thinking about this election season. Andrews investigates relationships between popular culture and power structures. There is a direct connection between politics, race and celebrity. The reality of this election season specifically comes to life through her artwork.

How might the results of this Presidential election affect you, as a teacher, in an international school? I hope you are paying attention because you will be asked questions from your soon-to-be- foreign friends.

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Two short years

may2015blogGrateful.

Weeks away from moving across the world, I’m trying to savor each moment I have left in Istanbul. Each time I go to a favorite neighborhood I realize it may be the last time I’ll be there. This place is now one of my homes, and although it is not possible to fully discover this city of almost twenty million people, I do know how to find my favorite markets, cultural and historical sights. I’ve learned how to maneuver the busy, crooked streets by foot or using public transportation and find any destination I’m searching for. I’ve learned just enough Turkish to make the locals comfortable with me and I treasure the friendships I’ve made. As I look out over the cityscape with a heart of gratitude, I hope it won’t be long until I visit again.

I’ve spent the weekend packing up my belongings. I was surprised to realize that I’ll likely need to purchase another piece of luggage to get my things back to the States. When I arrived here two years ago, I brought the fewest of necessity items, but since then I’ve discovered Turkish towels, Afghanistan pottery and Uzbekistan textiles. Who can resist this city that spans 700-square miles? There are so many Turkish delights! And since I was home last summer, I’ve visited seven more countries, buying small tokens of remembrance in each.

What an adventure I’ve been on! My mind has expanded in all directions through the conversations I’ve had and the books I’ve read. But, I’m weary. I’m longing for calm. I miss my family and friends. I’m eager to be home, on the other side. I am looking forward to being taken care of by people who know and love me well.

Istanbul, I love you. You’ve changed me and you’ve educated me beyond what I thought was possible. Be well, my friend.

 

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Time flies

OctBlogPhotoWhen you’re having fun.

It’s been just over six months since I’ve paid any attention to my blog. Lately a few people have asked about it and I felt a tug on my heart to write a short post. I never know what to say; there’s always so much to tell. How do I choose?

Over the summer I went home to Texas and also traveled to California to see my daughter. I was eager to gauge my feelings and emotions – both of being back in the States and also returning to Istanbul. All that’s worth noting is that I loved seeing my family and friends but I was super excited to come back. This is an amazing, energy-filled city and it continues to have my full attention. I am grateful for how much I’ve changed and how much I’ve learned about the world through my students, my travels and my new international friends.

November is around the corner. I am now involved in decisions that will guide my future. Should I stay or should I go? It is already time to decide if I will extend my contract or move on. I love Istanbul. I love living overseas but also wonder what it would be like to live in other distant lands. I miss my family too. It is a constant tug of war. Words that my mother always told me come to mind, “It’s always good to have options. Many people do not have any. Even when the decisions are hard to make, it is still better to have options.”

I challenge you to carefully observe your life and your options.

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The end in sight

Over the hump.

I’ve taught art for 13 years and every year the spring is exhausting! There’s always a rush to get through all the lessons you planned, squeeze in more school activities and enjoy the sunshine and social life that springtime brings. This year in Istanbul is no different, however, the end is in sight and I have a lot to be thankful for and much to look forward to.

I’ve lived here for eight months and the time has flown by, as I knew it would. No matter how tired I am on Friday night, I force myself out on the weekends to partake in this great city and I’m always glad I did. When my alarm goes off on Saturday morning, even when it is foggy or rainy outside, I force myself up and out. I cannot conquer this amazing city; there’s always too much going on. And because of its enormous size, by the time I get back around to another part of the city, so much has changed! It is constant, and I am energized by it.

It seems impossible that already this summer I will be considering my future and trying to determine my next career move. Because the hiring season for international teachers starts about a year ahead of the school year, this fall, when I return back to school to fulfill the second year of my contract, I will need to determine what I will do next. I have three choices and I swing back and forth like a pendulum between them. 1) Extend my two-year contract in Istanbul either for one or two more years, 2) job search for a new school in a new country (where?) and move again during the summer of 2015, 3) move back to the USA (where?) during the summer of 2015 and find a job, a car and a house (and thank you, Mr. Obama, new, required health insurance). Blah. There are so many emotions and realities tied up in those three options! I am hoping this summer, after I visit back in the USA, I will better be able to know the answer.

 

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

• I went to my first Istanbul Breakfast Club. Olga, the hostess who served us in her home, prepared a Moroccan breakfast. She had just returned from a Moroccan foodie tour and brought back spices and recipes to try out on us. This was perfect timing because . .

• I went to Morocco over Spring Break! I traveled with a friend from my school and stayed with another lovely teacher friend in Casablanca. We then took a train to Marrakech, stayed in a Riad, drank loads of mint çay, shopped in the souks and watched a snake charmer! I read most of my next month’s book club book, The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles, about Morocco. Nice, serendipitous connection.

• I went to the Istanbul Tulip Festival in Emergan Park. From my friend Ginney’s blog, Istanbul’da you can learn the history of the Turkish Tulip. This once-a-year event is the gateway to springtime in Istanbul. Over 20 million!!! tulip bulbs are planted in the city and it is gorgeous!

• I walked on the TOP of the ancient, Byzantine city walls during the “Love Tour”, a historical, walking tour that highlighted famous love stories of Istanbul. We also went in beautiful mosques and a preserved, mosaic-filled Christian church.

• I took my Grade 3 students on a field trip to the Hali Carpet Museum in Sultanhamet. It was amazing seeing the beautiful kalims that are centuries old!

• I went to my Canadian friend, Melanie’s art opening near Taksim and went to my Russian friend, Oxana’s art opening in Arnavutkoy. These ladies are so talented and both almost sold out of their creations before I got there.

• I’ve found an art store that I love and have slowly begun to buy some paint. I am finishing up a few watercolors and a couple of acrylic paintings.

• During the recent elections in Turkey, both twitter and youtube were blocked in the entire country! That’s been interesting…

• I went to a Picasso show at the Pera Museum. Picasso is always so inspirational and I had never seen these prints and ceramics!

• I’m looking forward to spending time over the next month traveling in Turkey to amazing cities east of Istanbul. Turkey is a traveler’s paradise. Istanbul was just ranked the most popular travel destination in the WORLD by TripAdvisor.

• I planned, installed and exhibited around 250 student artworks in my first Primary School Art Exhibition at my school. It was wildly successful and I was delighted for the attention it brought to my kids and the visual arts!

• I went to the fantastic Marc Quinn exhibition at Arter Gallery and was amazed at his talent for painting, sculpture and textiles. What an inspirational, contemporary artist!

• I continue to be active in two groups and am making many friends in each: PAWI (Professional American Women of Istanbul) and Global Minds Book Club. Both groups are comprised of international people who have vocations that are admired: artists, writers, journalists, charity workers, sociologists, attorneys, psychologists, translators, educators and business owners.

I want to challenge you to get out and learn something new today. Don’t let the day slip by without smiling and sharing a bit of yourself with the world.

 

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Bullet Points

BulletPointsSpring awaits.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written. The pace of my life here in Istanbul never slows down. It’s almost March and before you know it, I will have finished my first year of teaching in an IB International World School. It’s gone by fast, as I knew it would.

Here is a quick summary of what I’ve been up to:

• I went to Barcelona for Christmas and fell in love all over again with Salvador, Pablo and Antoni. An art-filled week, spent with a friend I met and roomed with at the 2013 SA Boston Job Fair. Remember? This was during the horrible blizzard last year. She got a job at that fair and is now teaching in Switzerland.

• I had my teeth cleaned at my new Turkish dentist! After tie-dying with my students that day, my hands were stained red. My limited-English-speaking dentist found that quite curious and amusing!

• I went to Athens for a 3-day weekend with a few friends from school. It was breathtaking, coming up the narrow staircase to the hotel’s rooftop terrace and seeing the Parthenon lit up at night. It was one of those “Ah-ha” moments, like when I saw the Colosseum for the first time in 2007. It was an amazing, educational weekend, but I found myself in visual overload of Greek art.

• Upon arrival back in Istanbul, I got a horrible sinus infection and had to find a new Turkish doctor! He speaks English and, after a sinus x-ray, insisted that I not go to work for two days. Forced to stay home, I Skyped into my Grade 5 classroom and continued to instruct them in printmaking! Although I’m much better, I’ve had a hacking cough for 3 weeks. Urgh!

• I joined the Global Minds Book Club here in Istanbul. Our book this month was by American social anthropologist, Jenny White and she was in attendance at our meeting! We discussed her book, “Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks,” but I’ve also read one of her fiction novels, “The Sultan’s Seal.”

• I spent hours at Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. It was THE most interesting museum/installation that I have ever been to. The museum is based on his book of the same name. If you ever come to Istanbul, read this book, then go to the museum. I’m hoping to meet Orhan one of these days when I’m out strolling in his neighborhood.

• I’m planning a trip to Casablanca and Marrakesh, Morocco in a month. I can’t wait! Another friend lives and teaches there. I wonder how it will be different from Istanbul?

I’m continuing to meet interesting people here and I’m convinced there is no way to ever discover all the mysteries of this adventure-filled city.  Although chilly and rainy today, most days are spring-like and many of the trees have new buds on their branches.

Thanks for reading and I hope your days are filled with love.

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Wrapping Up The Year

treeimageDreams realized.

Sometimes I get paralyzed and can’t write. I have a hard time distinguishing what would be the best thing to share because I experience so much in this amazing city every week. I’m continuing to meet new people and I’m deepening relationships with friends I’ve met over the last four months. I’m witnessing wonderful, learning experiences in my classroom and I’ve (almost) memorized the names of my 240 students. I’m getting involved with organizations and continuing to explore art galleries, museums and the many little streets and shops in Istanbul.

Time is moving at an incredible pace. The end of another year will be here shortly and when I reflect on my Annual Review this year, it will show the satisfaction of a goal realized; a goal that began 7 years ago with a free trip I won to Paris and London.

PortaxeI am entirely grateful. My life is rich beyond measure. Somehow I was fortunate enough to get a job at a great school in a culturally rich city. Recently my school gave us an evening at Portaxe, a beautiful restaurant, on the shores of the Bosphorus. This was in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Day, an actual day on the Turkish calendar, in which teachers are given gifts of love. It is so nice to be in a country that actually appreciates its teachers! As we entered Portaxe, we were greeted with trays of cocktails and the evening was celebrated with an open bar, delicious food, live band and lots of dancing! This past week we were given a beautifully wrapped box containing a personalized bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and deliciously rich Christmas fruit cake.

PAWI11.9.13Two of the very best discoveries of moving to Istanbul are two organizations I’ve joined called FWI (Foreign Women of Istanbul) and PAWI (Professional American Women of Istanbul). FWI operates with a Facebook presence and these remarkable women can answer any question about Istanbul that is put before them, including, “Where can I find marshmallows in Istanbul?” and my recent question of “Are banks open on Sunday?” PAWI meetings are monthly and rotate between Asia Istanbul and Europe Istanbul. Their meetings always include guest speakers. Since I’ve been here, our speakers have included a psychologist, who shared her experiences of working with people on the residual effects of the Gezi protests, a historian-artist-writer who just published her second book, Drawing on Istanbul 2,  and the Adahan Hotel and Restaurant owner who spoke to us about the years of sacrifice she and her husband gave to an 1874 building, bringing it back from the dead and turning it into a thriving business.  The discussions and knowledge base of these women is broad. Some are attorneys, others writers. Some work in marketing, others as translators. Some are owners of restaurants and hotels and some work in banking and education. Within these groups I’m finding many new friends, each with her own unique story of how it is she lives in Istanbul.

I’m happy to report that I’ve also experienced my first snowfall in Istanbul. It was gorgeous! It not only snowed in Istanbul, it snowed all over the Middle East and we quickly learned how Cairo, Egypt got snow for the first time in 122 years! After easing myself down the hill that morning, and into my warm classroom, I was shocked at the beauty outside my wall of windows. The sight continued to amaze my students and I all day long as nature painted a frozen picture across the landscape. Although we were graciously given two days of early release, I was hoping for a snow day so I could somehow get to Aya Sophia, lay down in its courtyard and make a snow angel, as I’d heard of some teachers doing last year.

MiroThe availability of world-class art continues to amaze me. Last week I went with a Turkish friend to the Miro Exhibition. I found it difficult to concentrate on the beautiful artwork because I was distracted by the amazing architecture. The exhibition building was a canon factory during the Ottoman Empire and I could not keep my eyes from wandering to the domes of the brick ceiling. After leaving, we wandered down antique-filled streets, twisting and turning, as all Istanbul streets do, and walked by Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence. We made a quick decision to view that collection another day.

choirThat evening I was able to listen to a friend sing in a choral concert at the British Consulate. Because of the bombing at this British Consulate in 2003, its grounds are heavily guarded and security is ever-present. Walking past photos of Queen Elizabeth and ancient looking framed documents, I noticed how elegantly the Christmas decorations were placed; fully regal, yet understated and charming. The singing was beautiful and transported me to thoughts of peace.

This week I will be flying to another distant, far-away place. I will spend the Christmas holiday with a friend that I met at the SEARCH Associates Boston International Job Fair last year! She got a job, that wretched, blizzard weekend, at an IB school in Switzerland, and she now lives there with her daughter. We’ve deepened our friendship over the months over Skype calls and we are eager to see each other again and share stories of the first half of our school year.

In these last few days of 2013, I want to challenge you to set your own plan in place. Kick the rock to start its tumble down the hill. Don’t be afraid to make your dream happen. This beautiful place I live- this dream that I’m living- did not happen overnight. I started planning it in 2006-almost eight years ago! Time goes quickly and life is such a gift. As we quietly pass into 2014, I wish you love, peace, health and inspiration. Be well!

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