In September 2012, I had the honor of being an invited Keynote Speaker at the International Teacher Training and Development Symposium in Uşak, Turkey. I was a guest of the Ministry of Education and Uşak Üniversitesi. I was sorry to leave Turkey. It is truly a beautiful country. Our hosts were wonderful. I was touched by their hospitality, kindness, and all the effort they went to on our behalf. They made me feel most welcome and I will be forever grateful for the experience. I enjoyed every aspect of the trip. The food was wonderful (harika). Every single person we met was welcoming (aramızda) and friendly (dostça) and each made an effort to share their country and culture with us. The sightseeing was spectacular (muhteşem)–forgive me if those are not the correct Turkish words! I look forward to returning as soon as the opportunity arises.
The conference was well attended and we had some interesting discussions about the differences between Turkey and the United States in terms of education. The similarities were interesting also (e.g., politics!). Although our presentations were in English, many of the audience participants spoke our language. We discussed the fact that few Americans are bilingual. I need to brush up on my Turkish before I return again. I learned at least three things in Turkish: teşekkür ederim (thank you, which I never quite pronounced correctly, Günaydın (good morning, I was better at this one), and a phrase I can’t spell but meant “wear your hard hat” (we were at a construction site)! I intend to improve my vocabulary by the time I return to Turkey.
We had the opportunity to meet with the University President (Rektor) for about an hour and talked about international partnerships in education. The city of Uşak manufacturers approximately 80% of the blankets in Turkey. The Rektor graciously presented my colleague and I with blankets made in Uşak as a gift of the city and University. It is proudly displayed in our home.