Head in the Clouds

headerThe land of beautiful horses

When my new friend asked me what my plans were for our October school break, I replied, “I’d like to go to Cappedocia, Turkey.” She looked at me and said, “I’ve always wanted to go there. Let’s just do it!” So we did! – along with several other friends from my school.

In the days prior to departure, I read as much as I could on the odd geographical formations called fairy chimneys. As our tour guide explained, three nearby volcanic mountains erupted over time, centuries ago. Each “spewed” different kinds of lava containing different kinds of minerals. Earthquakes happened. There was ice, next a flood and this area was covered in water. Then rivers and tide pools formed. When all the water went away, a bizarre landscape was left. There are a variety of these odd phallic, stone towers, but many of them are made from minerals that are soft on the inside and hard on the outside. Thousands of years ago, communities were formed as people scraped out the inside of these caves to live in.

There are thousands of these caves dotting the mountainous landscape and inside some of them are marvelous Christian frescoes that are centuries old!! It’s hard to imagine how these people had thriving neighborhoods on the face of a mountain, but they did. They didn’t have the advantage of helpful wood and steel staircases up the mountain.

After arriving and finding our cave hotel, we rested a bit before going to a performance called Turkish Nights! Food and drink was provided, as well as a live band. We watched all kinds of traditional Turkish dances performed in stunning, traditional costumes. I’m guessing because our group was all women we got a lot of attention from the wait staff. Two members of our group were selected to participate in a few of the evening’s performances! Afterwards we went back to the hotel to sleep in our cave.

The next morning our group booked a private shuttle van with a driver and tour guide. We spent the next nine hours (!) exploring the Cappedocia region. We parked at beautiful lookout spots that allowed us to step onto the edge of panoramic views that looked a bit like the Grand Canyon, with the added delight of fairy chimneys. We went on a tour of a fascinating onyx factory and learned about this unique, transparent stone, as well as learning the meaning of Cappadocia: land of beautiful horses. We had a lovely lunch next to a bucolic creek, saw the geographical area that was the inspiration behind some of the Star Wars scenes, climbed up rocky paths and peered into caves that ignite imaginations. We also went to Derinkuyu, an enormous underground city.

The following day was a holy day for Muslims. It is called Kurban Bayram. This is the day of sacrifice and all over the world, Muslims will sacrifice a sheep or a goat and share the meat with people in need. Although this holiday has special significance to them, I had to be careful as we walked past little stone homes in quaint, rocky villages, not to see the remains of the slaughter. After a long day of traveling and exploring, we ate dinner and went to bed promptly because the following morning we had to be up at 5:00 am to catch our shuttle to Butterfly Balloons!

There are hundreds of hot air balloon companies in this area, but my favorite travel guru, Rick Steves, used this company last year when he toured this area so this was the company I wanted to use. Everyone here in Turkey knows that you simply MUST go up in a hot air balloon if you find yourself in this part of Turkey. I was a bit frightened to think about it, but because of the insistence of everyone who’d been here I decided that I would do it. Once we arrived at the take off point, next to the gigantic canyon, it was dark but we could begin to see the silhouettes of balloons starting to fill up. After shooting some pictures and wiping the sleep out of our eyes, we were loaded in the basket and off we went. It was not what I had imagined. This balloon ride was the most peaceful, slow and relaxing ride I have ever been on. It was breathtakingly beautiful! Our basket was large, holding about 16 people. Our pilot, Mustafa, has been written up in Trip Advisor as simply one of the BEST pilots, and he proved to be very cautious and experienced. He was able to maneuver the gigantic balloon down into the cavern right next to the chimneys and rock formations. He was also proud to tell us that we were the highest balloon in the sky at 6300 meters! As we peered over the edge, we could see colorful dots beneath us. These dots were the TOP of other balloons.

We stayed up in the sky for over an hour, Mustafa gently guiding our balloon to all different parts of the canyon. What an amazing experience! It is customary to be served champagne upon landing, but Butterfly Balloons had more planned. I still don’t know how they knew this, no one took any credit, but as a complete surprise to me, they knew it was my birthday on that day and I was presented a beautiful chocolate cake, and flowers, to be shared by everyone in our basket! One man on the ground crew threw me across his shoulders like a sack of potatoes and then all the ground crew gathered around while he tossed me into the deflated balloon for pictures. It was amazing; a birthday like no other.

When we arrived back at the hotel, it was just 9:00 a.m. so we ate a quick breakfast and then went back to bed for a few hours. When we got up for the second time, all us girls decided to go to a Turkish Bath (hamam). I hadn’t yet been to a Turkish bath, although they are very popular here in Istanbul. Baths have been a part of this culture for centuries and many hamams are very old. We enjoyed a sauna, a swim in a mineral pool, and then a scrub down. It was quite an experience and we were left invigorated afterward. After lunch and a little shopping, we relaxed until the evening. Several of us went to a Sufi worship center and watched a Whirling Dervish ceremony.

whirlderPrior to arrival we read about the symbolism of the performance. On the website called The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi we learned about the dress, the hand movements and the sounds played by the musicians. I really loved watching this trancelike, harmonious, worshipful dance. The Mevlevi Sufi order was founded to follow the teachings of Rumi, one of the great spiritual masters, and poets, of the 13th century. If you are interested in learning more, I’ve just finished reading a novel by Elif Shafak called, The Forty Rules of Love, and through this story, Rumi’s biographical story is told. It is fascinating and I highly recommend it. The colors, sounds and textures of Cappedocia are totally worth exploring if you find yourself in this part of the world.

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The Melting Pot

single2Colors of the world.

This past week was UN week at my school. As a new international teacher, I really didn’t know what to expect. There were no pictures shown at our planning meeting, and as the agenda items were checked off by the administration and experienced teachers, there weren’t any details given that would allow me to visualize what I’d see. Most of the teachers I work with have already been teaching in international schools around the world and this is all familiar to them. All I knew is that the homeroom teachers had a special schedule all week, which included activities outside the normal PYP curriculum. Some of these included flag making, map building and food tasting and then there would be a Parade of Nations on Friday.

Monday morning began in assembly. A beautiful and heart-warming book, by Mem Fox, was read aloud by my new friend, and our Australian librarian called, Whoever You Are. Let me just say that this book is on my “To Buy in USA” list. This is a book to own if you have small children! Afterwards, a young woman and young man from the high school came and presented to our group on this history of the UN and on UNICEF. I learned so much!

In a nutshell, the United Nations is an international organization that was founded in 1945 after the Second World War. At that time, fifty-one countries committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights. From their website I found this information:

The work of the United Nations reaches every corner of the globe. Although best known for peacekeeping, peace-building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, there are many other ways the United Nations and its System (specialized agencies, funds and programmes) affect our lives and make the world a better place. The Organization works on a broad range of fundamental issues, from sustainable development, environment and refugees protection, disaster relief, counter terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, to promoting democracy, human rights, gender equality and the advancement of women, governance, economic and social development and international health, clearing landmines, expanding food production, and more, in order to achieve its goals and coordinate efforts for a safer world for this and future generations.

After we learned about the UN, they went on to educate us about UNICEF. Although for years I gave to UNICEF through donations at a former employer, JCPenney, I didn’t fully realize the capacity and importance of the program. Taken from their website:

UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized. We have the global authority to influence decision-makers, and the variety of partners at grassroots level to turn the most innovative ideas into reality.  That makes us unique among world organizations, and unique among those working with the young.

We believe that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress.  UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path.  We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.

One of the reasons I knew I would love working in an international school was because I wanted to be influenced in my thoughts, in my prayers, in my teaching, in my art, in my personal philosophy of life on a global level. I felt my existence in the USA was too narrow. The school where I teach is an enormous melting pot of children and families. I don’t yet know the number of countries represented in our student body but I can assure you it is a lot!

foodDuring the week special activities were implemented but on Thursday, one of the Grade 1 teachers ran downstairs to my art room and invited me to come upstairs and taste the assortment of foreign foods that had been brought in from our international families. Of course I followed her upstairs! I couldn’t believe my eyes! Delicious, savory and sweet foods were lovingly prepared by our school’s families and a buffet was spread out for all to enjoy “tastes from around the world”. I loved sampling the delicious foods. Each of the food trays was marked with a small flag designating the country from which the food was from. It was yummy!

When I came to work on Friday, my eyes were in for a treat. Traditional costumes, flags and hats were on the children as they marched proudly into school. I grabbed my camera and asked permission as I continued to shoot pictures of these lovely, beautiful children. Seeing them made me want to visit every country! It made me realize that next summer, when I go home to America, I will have to get some kind of “American” costume to wear on UN day next year! Here’s a shout out to my family and friends in the USA…this year, on July 4, PLEASE grab me a BIG American flag and some American “memorabilia”. I want to participate in costume next year. I had nothing special to wear. I can sense that I’m already starting to change…When I left the USA I held many negative feelings about my country, based on politics and economy. However, after being here just a few, short months, my views are beginning to broaden.

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During the Parade of Nations assembly, at the end of the day on Friday, I sat with a colleague who has taught in four international schools. We were both in amazement at the beautiful, colorful children and their traditional costumes that filled our entire auditorium. He whispered to me that in all the other international schools he’s taught in, although the students possessed an international passport, most of them were “from” the country that the school was located in. That is not the case at MEFIS. Our student population is from all over the world! Lucky me; our students are truly global! This teaching experience is like none that I’ve ever done before and I love it!

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Anish is bliss


Anish Kapoor
Me and my art buddy.

Every weekend for the past month, I’ve been climbing stairs, high and low, and in and out of a variety of city districts, to look at contemporary art in this great city. The 13th Istanbul Biennale started on September 14, 2013, and a wide variety of galleries, museums and public art spaces have put their best foot forward. Amazing exhibitions and installations are being shown from one corner of the city to another.

Before I left the USA, I was reading many blogs about Istanbul written by people that were living here. When the riots started in June, I used these sources to stay abreast on the conditions in the neighborhoods that I soon would call home. Through my research, I came across a blog that I enjoyed because of the rich photos and personal commentary. After reading many articles, I decided to write the author and compliment her on her work of maintaining her blog. As it turns out, she wrote me back. Then I wrote again, etc., etc., and low and behold, once I moved here in August, we met face-to-face and have become friends. She, too, is an artist and we both belong to PAWI (Professional American Women in Istanbul) and Artists in Istanbul. My new friend, who has lived here almost a year, knows the city, and its language, better than I do. With Google maps in hand (and on iPhone), we’ve started conquering these exhibitions, one neighborhood at a time.

When I step into these venues, and catch my breath, I think, “I’m going to write about this!” but then I go to the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that, and by the end of the day, I’m completely confused on what to write about. Too much to choose from! Today, I’ve decided to share with you photos from the stellar Anish Kapoor show at Sakip Sabanci Muzesi, north past Babek and close to the shores of the Bosphorus.

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Anish Kapoor is an Indian-Brit. His work being shown here in Istanbul covers the last 25 years of his career. As I looked at the monumental pieces of steel and marble I kept wondering how they got here; how did those enormous pieces make their way into this beautiful, but crowded, neighborhood on the Bosphorus? I rode the bus to get there and it took an hour. It’s not that far of distance, but the roads were so crowded with cars, motorcycles, buses, melon carts, pedestrians that it felt like I’d never arrive. Did the sculptures float up the Bosphorus on a barge? Did they arrive on a truck up the steep hills of the city? This would have been an interesting installation to see!

Americans may know his large, chrome-like “bean” the best. It sits in Chicago’s Millennium Park and is wildly popular. The sculpture’s title is actually, Cloud Gate and, although it went way over budget (to the tune of about $25 million) the city of Chicago and its residents love it! His most recent piece, Ark Nova, is a one-of-a-kind inflatable concert hall in Japan.

I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves. The work was mesmerizing and provoked curiosity. How did he do this? Were the pieces fabricated by machines? How many assistants does he have? I’m so fortunate to have been able to see this exhibition. It’s up through January sometime in the event you want to see it!

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Shipwrecked

Into the depths.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Harbor_Mystery, Author: Franklin W. Dixon, Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
The_Hidden_Harbor_Mystery,
Author: Franklin W. Dixon,
Publisher: Grosset and Dunlap

Noticing that I would soon be accompanying Grade 5 students to the Istanbul Archeological Museum during their Ancient Civilizations Unit of Inquiry, I invited a friend from Ireland to go with me and check it out. I wanted to get my bearings before taking the students and I’m so glad I did! Although we only made it into two of the three vast buildings, our eyes and minds were full from the experience. The museum houses artifacts from the centuries and it would be nearly impossible to see everything in one day. As in many ancient cities, there is scaffolding and renovations happening all around the grounds. I can’t imagine the expense of taking care of an ancient city! One could easily start digging in a grassy garden and unearth an ancient arch, pottery or who knows what! This modern city has been built on top of many cities that came before it. Although the treasures of this fine museum are remarkable, I was most captivated by a special exhibition called Stories From The Harbor, Shipwrecks of Yenikapi.

Just south of Sultanahmet, the popular tourist part of the city, where many famous Istanbul mosques and shopping bazaars are located, lays the Sea of Marmara and the Theodosian harbour. In 2004, during a transportation project that was underway, a great discovery was made. Under the sea, in an area called Yenikapi, a total of 37 shipwrecks were found, unbelievably preserved in a water grave. The Yenikapi wrecks constitute the largest collection of shipwrecks ever found in one place. These thrity-seven boats vary from long warships (galleys) to sea-going traders and even include small, local trading vessels. The boats date from the 5th-11th centuries and included a surprising artifact inventory. This amazing archeological find sheds light not only on the trade business of the harbor city, and Byzantine capital, Constantinople, but on vessels of the period and everyday life during the Ottoman and Byzantine periods.

The special exhibition was of the highest caliber. Multimedia video and interactive displays delighted and mesmerized me as I pushed buttons to see how a thunderstorm at sea could easily set a ship off course and lead to its demise. Other videos showed the common trade routes through this area of the world and gave information on what was carried on the ships. Not only did they carry a plethora of vessels but also coins, jewelry, candles, leather sandals and rigging equipment, to include ropes and anchors. I was most surprised to see nuts and seeds, like peach seeds and walnut shells, on display. Skeletons are also a part of the findings and provide a frightening reminder about all the lives that have been lost at sea. Another video, with the speed of a factory, showed how these beautiful, old ships were crafted.

As we were leaving we stopped by a beautiful, outdoor café on the grounds for a cup of tea. The tables were placed amongst the many ruins and helped to provide a lovely time of reflection.

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A Room With a View

RoomViewLooking out.

Years ago, a friend of mine told me that one of her favorite things about teaching was that every year, you got to start over. It was, for her, refreshing to begin each year anew and have the flexibility to discard lessons, material or projects that, perhaps, didn’t have the impact on her students that she’d hoped for. Not only is it satisfying to wrap up a well-worked school year, but also to begin a new school year, with new faces, ideas and new materials. This gives hope to all that can possibly be. A cheerful and well-designed learning environment has the potential to sprout all sorts of learning, for student and teacher alike.

For weeks I’ve been designing my new classroom and trying to make good use of the permanent fixtures that I’ve inherited. My classroom is solid. It has marble floors, concrete walls, heavy wooden tables and chairs, two stainless steel sinks and an entire wall of natural light windows that looks upon the beautiful hills of Ortakoy, the neighborhood that I live in. I’ve tried different arrangements of the furniture, put up new PYP (Primary Years Program) “Wonder Wall” bulletin boards and my “Essential Agreements” and I’ve organized new and plentiful art materials. It is my hope that this room will help breath creative life into all the sweet souls that enter this space this year. Have a look at my classroom!

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The PYP pedagogy is structured and precise. In the few weeks that I’ve been here, I’m fortunate to have been able to go through two different 3-and-4 day workshops, facilitated by leaders of the program. However, sitting in a room learning how to implement the PYP is one thing and actually doing it in front of many smiling and eager, young faces, is entirely something else. The philosophy of educating the child is robust and challenging and is nothing like the teaching methods I’ve always used in the United States. The International Baccalaureate, of which the PYP is a part of, is a rigorous and long-studied program that requires specific training and implementation. Once you’ve been trained, however, and once you’ve got some classroom experience, I understand there are no limits as to where and what you can do as an educator. On the International Baccalaureate website , this is the summary of the program:

…programs for students aged 3 to 19 help develop the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world.

This method of learning is based on inquiry, or being curious about the world. Conceptual strategies help prepare the learner to find new methods of solving problems. Questions such as, “how does this work?”, “how do you know?”, and “what else is there to discover?” are samples of the many kinds of questions that are posed to my students. They are taught to always question and to dig for answers. What are you curious about?

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A River of Change

A new view.

On the PierThe evidence of my hundreds of photographs, already taken in the past month, is proof that Istanbul is a city of experiences like none other. I do not have command of the English language well enough to be able to find perfect words to describe all of what I’m feeling when I walk down brick-paved hills so steep, when I squint to gaze upon the blue seas, when I taste salty olives and cheese on my lips, when I mournfully hear the prayer call or when I smell pungent, roasted meats. My senses are on fire. I have never felt so alive.

How can I adequately express in words the combination of influences on this great city? Christians. Jews. Muslims. Europe. Asia. Ottoman. Roman. Byzantium. How do you pick one book from a full library? How do you choose a favorite kitten from the litter? How do I decide what to share and what to keep? When I open my front door and step out into this marvelous energy, I step into a torrential downpour of possibilities . . .

One of my most enjoyable excursions has been hopping aboard a ferry, to cruise northward, along the Bosphorus River. This expansive river, about 30 km (18 miles) long, connects the Black Sea to the north and the Sea of Marmara to the south, which leads to the Aegean Sea, and then on to the Mediterranean. On the western bank is European Istanbul; on the eastern bank, Asian Istanbul. Two bridges and a multitude of ferries connect the east and the west here.  In the photo below you can see the two bridges. I live on the western, European side, just to the south of the southern-most bridge. There are a variety of ferry excursion companies and timetables to choose from. Our group chose a short, hour-long cruise, roundtrip from Ortakoy. This ride took us just north of the second bridge before turning around and traveling back toward home along the Asian side of the river. Multi-hour, long trips to the Black Sea, are also available, as well as evening twilight cruises, which I think would be terribly romantic! This hour long, luxurious ride cost $10 Turkish Lira, which is around $5 USD. Well worth that!

NASA Earth Observatory, Astronaut photograph ISS008-E-21752

NASA Earth Observatory,
Astronaut photograph ISS008-E-21752

As we cruised along the European side, the summer breeze catching my hair, I found myself drifting off in wonderings as we passed historical mansions and palaces, restaurants full of customers, fishing boats aplenty and residences one could only dream about. Along the river it is easy to spy fishermen. From my reading, I understand that the Bosphorus is a paradise for fish because of the different currents and varieties of depths of this great river. The fish migrate between the Black Sea and Marmara according to the season so meals with fresh fish are common here. (Click on the first photo below to see a slide show)

Time passed quickly and I wasn’t ready for the ferry to dock. This was a wonderful, and relaxing, way to enjoy views of the city. As I stepped off, I realized, again, that I’m not on vacation. I live here! I can go back and ride another cruise anytime. Thanks for reading. This week why not find a new way to experience your city?

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Pioneer Teachers

Turkish Tea with FriendsI’ve been thinking about American teachers of the past, who traveled for days, by stagecoach, or on horseback, across miles of dusty trails, to fulfill a longing to move to a new place, meet a new community and to teach young children. Over the past two weeks I have likely experienced many similar feelings and adjustments. After arriving in Istanbul on August 12, I have begun to explore my new city, I have met an ever-increasing new community of lovely people and I have started to adjust to a new teaching pedagogy in hopes that I will be able to ensure a lifetime love of learning to my young students. It’s been so completely overwhelming to all of my senses, my head’s been spinning since I got here!

Istanbul is all (and more!) that I remember it to be from my travels here in 2011. I live in the neighborhood of Ulus, in Ortakoy, a beautiful, historically rich environment full of new sights, new tastes and smells, new sounds and new textures. My legs are getting stronger every day from walking up miles of marble stairs and down long, winding, brick roadways. This host country is fascinating beyond belief and I’m guessing the two years of my contract will pass quickly. I fear there won’t be enough time to see it all.

Upon my brisk arrival, and clearance through customs, at the Ataturk Airport at 7:00 pm, I was wisked away to deliver my belongings into my lovely, furnished apartment. After dumping my containers inside the door and having a quick look around, a small group of us set off on an excursion that took us to the edge of the Bosphorus. It was dreamlike. Bouncing lights off the bridge, rushing taxis on the narrow streets, wafting fragrances from street vendors and hearing strange dialects all around me caused a swarming, full force, into my sleep-starved head.

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The quick motion never stopped. I was transported through various experiences, in full sensory overload for days, meeting people of many nations, testing my tongue to this new language, and adopting a new style of teaching art to a group of children outside my experience realm.

I am happy. I’ve been dreaming of this experience for years, never quite understanding how dramatically new and exciting it would be. I had to experience it, and now I’m living it. These are things I’ve already learned that I want to share:

  • Fill your days with happiness.
  • Go so far out of your comfort zone that you have no choice but to become dependent on others.
  • Have an open heart and an open mind to endless possibilities.
  • Consider opinions that are very different from your own and that you previously hadn’t.
  • Listen to people’s stories.
  • Let people help you.
  • Learn to be friends with people very different from you.
  • Learn what people from other countries think of your country.

I’m learning about all these things. Thanks for traveling with me.

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Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

alliswellFly away.

A friend compared it to living inside a hair dryer, and it’s true. The blissful temperatures of San Diego made for a rude awakening when I arrived in Dallas this week. 105-degree temperatures help me let go of this place I’ve called home for 28 years.

I’ve been able to see some folks, but mostly I’ve been packing and re-packing and making difficult decisions on what to take with me, and what to leave, for the hundredth time. My school gave me a generous excess baggage allowance, but my international teacher friends reminded me to be ruthless and to only bring absolute necessities. They told me that whatever I heaved over, I’d have to hoist back. Meditating on this thought caused me to clear out the contents of one more container.

Three international teacher friends I’ve made this year have already departed to their new countries: one to Switzerland, one to China and one to Ethiopia. During the stressful days of interviewing at recruitment fairs, the connections you make with people are emotional and friendships can develop quickly. I look forward to staying in touch with these friends and comparing their new experiences to mine.

My favorite hours spent this week were with my Mom. We went out to breakfast two times, talked non-stop and watched a special TV series on Istanbul called, “A Short History of the World.” She is excited for me and I hope she can come visit one day and see the great, preserved histories of the Byzantine, Ottoman and Roman empires. She recently sent me a newspaper article about a young, mid-western man who has been living in Istanbul. Within the article, this quote, from Missouri native, Mark Twain, resonated with me:

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth all of one’s lifetime.

This is one of the truest things I have ever read and describes my feelings exactly. I started dreaming of teaching overseas when I first visited Europe in 2006. Since then, I’ve been unraveling a big tangle of ideas and possibilities to make this dream come true. And here I am today, a few hours from arriving at the DFW Airport, about to fly 6,278 miles (think of the mileage points!!) to Istanbul. And yet, I’m already starting to dream about the next thing. I’ve learned to never stop dreaming, and casting your net, for all things are possible!

Please be patient with me as I begin to assimilate all that I’ll be involved with during the next few weeks. Two caring teachers, who remember what it’s like to be a newbie, have been organizing social outings for the next couple of weeks and I’m grateful. I’m sure I’ll be gathering many ideas to blog about!

The last few days I’ve been remembering back to all that I’ve done in the past two years, to make this dream a reality. It seemed overwhelming at first: finding ways to earn extra money, going through all my possessions and determining what to keep, store or sell, sorting through all my art supplies and artwork, and re-examining every area of my life, but I took baby steps, one day at a time, and it happened.  I’m not special. I’m not doing anything that isn’t available to everyone. What’s your dream? You can make it happen.

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Around The Block

SpanishVillageColorTilesNew friends. New places.

These last few weeks in San Diego have been remarkable! The weather seems to be never-ending goodness and I’m dreading coming back to the scorching heat of Texas this week. I’ve lived in San Diego for almost two months and although I’ve approached my temporary visit like a traveler, I’ve been here long enough that I’ve already started making friends and, through my wanderings, I’ve found members of my tribe.

I brought my tennis racket and joined the summer clinics at the Balboa Tennis Club in Balboa Park. Tennis courts are a great place for social interaction and I’ve made friends here. One of the weekly participants is Chuck, a 96 year old tennis player! Watching Chuck hit “spinners”, as I call those crazy, unpredictable, bouncy balls, has proven to me that Chuck is a talented athlete. He can stand in one place and precisely hit balls that younger, more agile players, across the net from him, cannot return. Chuck is an inspiration! I’ve made friends with Loulou, Janet and Janice. I even saw Janice at an outing last Saturday night in a different part of town and it was exciting to run into a friend.

I met new friends during my days spent installing Liza Lou’s Color Field at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Many of us are seen in a film, produced by the museum, which chronicles the installation team working. Liza even mentions me in the film!

Mingei HorsesOne of my new friends I met at the museum, Pia, publishes a wonderful blog showcasing many art and cultural things to do each weekend in San Diego. Her blog, The Wanderer Guides, has been especially helpful in planning weekend activities. Pia and I spent an afternoon together recently at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park. This museum exhibits folk art, craft and design from all eras and cultures of the world. During our visit we saw the Menagerie exhibit, which showcased artful animals from the museum’s global, permanent collection. I took many photos of inspirational artworks that may be used as source material in my teaching next year.

I especially loved discovering Urban Safaris, a unique walking tour company built from the ground up (literally) by my new friend, Patty. Within the first weeks of arriving in San Diego, I contacted Patty and inquired about signing up for a tour. She notified me that all her tours were full for a few weeks so I wasn’t able to register until mid-July. I signed up to walk on two tours with Patty through two fascinating, historic neighborhoods of San Diego: North Park and South Park.

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Each of these neighborhoods developed in the first decade of the 20th century and both have maintained important historical buildings. It was so enjoyable learning about significant architects, like David Owen Dryden, who built beloved craftsman-style homes, so prevalent in these neighborhoods.

Helen & Anita at Filter, July 27, 2013

Photo via Patricia Fares

Through Patty, I met Helen, a noted childrens’ book author. Helen, Patty and I got together recently to discuss blogging and we all wished I wasn’t leaving yet. These two creative, smart and witty women would easily become my two new best friends if I were to settle down here in San Diego!

I will always be grateful for the treasured time I got to spend with my daughter and want to publically thank her for providing me with a loving home and extending to me great kindness. What a blessing to have been able to navigate her new city with her and live life alongside her as she begins walking down life’s choice-filled path. I will eagerly await the day she comes to visit me in my new city, so I can return the favor. Thanks to you, too, Matt, for your love, hospitality and gift of time you gave us to be together. I love you both!AandS

Summer is coming to a close but a new world awaits! I’ve started collecting teaching resources, reading blogs about the PYP and wondering about the names my new students. I’m curious about my apartment and my classroom. I am eager to seek out the markets and meet new friends. I’ve enjoyed Skyping with new friends in Turkey and am so appreciative of the efforts of my new colleagues to make us new teachers feel welcomed.

Teaching is such a wonderful career. I’m so thankful that this vocation continually gives room to my transformation. Have a great week and make a new friend!

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JOB NOTICE

Hello my readers!

I was just contacted by MEF International School (my new school) that they have an urgent need to fill a Grade 2 Homeroom Teacher position. This could be YOU! Write me for more information!

GMB AKASH

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