One Spirit in Two Bodies

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European Union Education and Youth programs have the goal to piece Europe together tighter. With the help of such programs, we have stronger bridges between Turkey and Europe. In this sense, this mother tongue project carried out in Gent is a great opportunity for Turkish kids and it makes more sense when they have an assistant from Turkey under Comenius program. To cut the long story short, the ones who will benefit from it are kids, families, schools, Gent, Belgium, Europe and the world in a greater sense.

Life Goes Faster on Protein!

Food is really important for the development of the people from the very early ages. If we would like to have healthier generations, we should pay special attention what we and our kids are eating. Thus, some people say that it is important to begin to work on a full stomach.

The week before, It was the week of healthy food. We had activities about healthy food in each class. The kids also really enjoyed the healthy and delicious food that they had at school. It was their company that made it so good.

Based on recent researches, it is stated that kids who do not get enough food cannot concentrate on what they are doing at school as well as the others. Here, we come up with the conclusion that the belly rules the mind!


Time Flies!

Time is a kind of possession that we have too much, but we use it the worst. In this respect, it is also very important to teach kids' how to manage their time effectively. This starts by learning how to tell the time.

In Turkish culture and in many others also, we say "half past ten" for 10.30. In some other cultures and languages it may be a little bit different and they say "half eleven" for 10.30. This may be a tackle for those living in multi-cultural environments. In Els class, we focused on especially how to tell the "half hours". The instruction was in Turkish, but the Turkish kids were expected to perform it in Flemish. At the end, I saw that most of them got it. Therefore, we made the best of the time that we spent together in these two hours.



Money Often Costs Too Much!

First people who started to use money in the 7th centruy BC were Lydians living in Anatolia, cradle of Civilization. It is one of the indispensable parts of a human life for around 2700 years. This is why kids at an early age are introduced with it.

The topic was about currency; Euros and Euro cents in Saskia's class in a few weeks ago. The kids were really enthusiastic about it. After her introduction, I practiced with the Turkish ones with different combinations. One of the Turkish kids' reaction was really very interesting and shows how pure their life is. She told me that she did not like money, so she did not want to have any money. She would like to prefer to do something else.

Unfortunately, money is one of the means of power in today's modern world. The world is not as pure as the world in that girl's mind. Thus, money talks!


Every Kid is Precious!

Kids are the future of the world. Every country pays special attention to the education of the kids in their society. As they are the core of the educational system, the teachers are specially trained to help them in this process.

Here, we come up with the question, "What is the role of the teacher in the classroom? Some saythat the teacher should be the "boss" in the class while the others put forward the idea that the teacher should be the "guide". If we take the modern methods, recent innovations in education and changing world into consideration, the latter will make more sense. As a result, it will be only possible in this way to educate the kids to show their skills. In brief, the future of the world built on the shoulders of kids will be a more livable place.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk says that "We love kids as they are our perpetuation. In every kid, we get the satisfaction of our longing to eternity." This sums up the attitude of Turks towards kids. All in all, giving one of the important dates in Turkish History, the foundation of Turkish Grand National Assembly (23.04.1920) to the kids as a global "Kids' Festival" shows the sensitiveness of the Great Leader, Atatürk and Glarious Turkish Nation towards kids.




Learning by Doing!

Education is a life-long process. The part that the kids get at school is just formal. In other words, there are some goals to achieve, and the learning and teaching process revolves around them. On the other hand, there is an informal part which cover the whole life of kids. Here, there are not any goals, but there are chances to take in order to grow up. Their future will be set on this basis. As an old saying says that growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.

In both formal and informal parts, it is a commonly known fact that kids learn better when they fully and physically participate in the activities. We come up with the magical term, "learning by doing". Moreover, if they actively take part, the benefits that they gain will be pretty long-lasting ones. The activities that they do in this way will make more sense. All in all, the language of the learning is not the words, but the meanings.



Impossible is Nothing!

Dreaming is the core of living. In other words, you cannot expect people who do not have dreams to go further. Moreover, dreaming is the key that opens new doors to people.

Kids are considered as the best dreamers. Adults even sometimes get astonished about the limits of their imagination. These dreams are the future of the individual, the country and the world if they are dealt with carefully.

Dreaming is also necessary for their cognitive development. It is also a paradox that sometimes some people get so cognitively developed that they even cannot dream anymore. This is because they start to think too much reasonably and they pay too much attention to the pros and cons of the issue. This hinders their creativity and individuality. They become the same sheep of the same herd. Actually, the differences are the ones that makes us get personally and culturally rich.

All in all, dreaming is indispensable in one's life. Yet, what we should do to make our dreams come true is to wake up!






Kids' Creativity - Global Treasure

When we have a look at the world's greatest inventions, we see the shadow of the childhood of these great inventors. The childhood is the most importance part which shapes the other parts so dramatically and deeply. The famous author, Charles Dickens, says that if it had not been his childhood, he could not have written so well world classics in the field of literature.

To want the kids to do what we would like does not only limit their creativity, but also "gnaw" their future life. It is their childhood which helps them to choose the field that they want to specialize later. As a result, they will be the pioneers in the society. They will help both their country and the humankind to improve and go further.

In this respect, any child should be deprived of their right of freedom while they are playing. This will be a small step for teachers in their classes, but a great and very big one for the civilization.






Break the Ice

Kids' world is just simple and this is why most of the people long their childhood because simple is the best. After being born, they start struggling in this cruel life. They just would like to be as they are, but their families, friends, schools and in short their environment do not let them do so. All in all, in this situation, it is quite normal that they have some prejudices towards others. Yet, it is also possible to overcome them with the help of the causes of this problem mentioned above.

Although I participate in the Mother-Tongue project with Turkish kids, it is also a great pleasure for me to work with the other kids coming different backgrounds. As the project assistant, I am like a bridge between the Turkish ones and the others. In other words, I am not the boss who says to them what to do, but guide them to what they would like to do.

The kids can get the impression that they are all respected, and I give each of them utmost importance and the same value in this way.This sense will enlight their future life to be a good human.





Movie Watching Session

Just before the Christmas Holiday, we had a movie session at school for both older and younger kids. The kids and children were so excited about it as they would do something different from traditional schooling. The way how we could do it was just simple. It would be with the help of a laptop and beamer, then the are small details.

Firstly, we did it with younger kids at the teachers' room. We adjusted the beamer and then we arranged the environment for the kids so that they would watch it comfortably and very well. It was also a detail that they were given some small pieces of cartoon like movie ticket and they were showing it to the teacher waiting at the door. While they were watching the movie, Hilde came to the class in Sinterklaas clothes and brought some pop corn. She was sound like "ho ho ho" and tossing up some pop corn. She did it several time and the kids got really excited to catch some pop corn and eat it. Even some were so excited that they started crying. Yet, no problem, everything was under control.

Secondly, it was the turn for older ones. They would watch it at the place where they have their lunch. With some teachers and Luc, we adjusted the beamer and laptop and arranged the environment. They watched a movie taking 1 hour and 40 mins. Although it was a lon one, they had fun a lot. And of course each of them also got a package of pop corn. All in all, both groups really liked it which could be seen esily from their smiling faces while watching.





Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet

To be honest, I did not know about anything about Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet before coming to Belgium. Yet, when we got close to december, kids at the classes did more activities related to this tradition. Here, the other way of education took place which I was also learning from the kids.

They said to me that every year at the beginning of December they were celebrating it. They also visited Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet who gave them very delicious chocolate, cookies and present. The kids were very happy and enthusiastic to see them.

In the classes, we made more activities related to this tradition. Let me also briefly talk about some other activities that they were doing. They were wearing the clothes of Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, drawings, colourings and songs related to this tradition. In some activities, we were dealing with them in Turkish and it was a good combination of doing something in the target culture (Flemish) in their mother tongue (Turkish).






Reading Festival

In the process of education, it is very important to make the parents participate in it as education is not something that the teachers will do it themselves at schools. It is a combination of parents, school and environment. In the center of it, the kid stays and everything revolves around him or her.

It is very important to have more languages both at school and at home. Moreover, it is very important to give the sense of respecting his or her mother tongue and culture at home. Thus, better individuals will be educated.

By taking the things mentioned above into consideration, a "Reading Festival" was organized. The aim was to read stories to the kids in the mother tongue and the duty will be done with the help of the enthusiastic parents who would come to the school and read some stories to the kids. Stories in Turkish, Arabic, Macedonian and so on were narrated to the kids.

I also took part in this activity. That was a good exercise for kids and they were also eager to listen something in their mother tongue at school. I told them some stories about animals and "The King who likes only the colour, Purple". To check their comprehension, I asked some questions from time to time. They did fairly well with the books that I read.At the end of the day, all kids and parents were happy with this activity.



Gravensteen

Gravensteen is a castle originating from the middle ages. It was built by Count Philip in the center of Gent as he wanted to show "who the boss is".Today's target is to visit this castle which plays an important role in the history of Gent.

As usual, the kids were really very happy and they were saying to me that we would go to "kasteel" which means castle in Flemish. When I said to them that we would go to "Kale" which also means castle, but in Turkish. They seemed not to have understood it. After a short explanation, they got it, but it was very strange that they did not know that word in their mother tongue.

We walked from one room to the other in the castle. The teachers gave again useful explanation about the pieces which were displayed in the rooms. Moreover, I was also doing this in Turkish to the Turkish kids.We saw some armors, swords, torturing equipments and guillotine. Luckly, not all the kids understood what they were used for. As even the photos and the idea made me shuddered.

The view of the city from the top of the castle was really good. The kids also liked this view and we took several photos there. We also saw some parts outside and the funny thing was the toilets which was situated outside the castle. They really liked these toilets. All in all, today we had a good time at the castle.


Going to the Forest (Mariakerke Park)

One of the most important for the kids is to get to know their environment. By taking this into consideration, we went to the forest with the kids. The aim was that they would learn the vocabulary related to the forest with the help of realia there.

The kids are always excited when they know that they will go somewhere else. When I came to the school, the kids also wanted me to join them. When they heard that I would be also with them, their joyce got doubled.

We went to that place near Mariakerke Church by bus. It was itself a whole responsibility to take care of the kids to bring the bus stop and make them get on the bus. The bus drivers are always very helpful and patient enough for us.

When we arrived at this place, they were so happy. They were listening to their teachers about their explanation to some plants and forest life. I was also helping the Turkish kids with their Turkish versions and explanations. The teachers were also eager to know about the Turkish version of the vocabulary.

The kids gathered some things such as, leaves, cone, acorn, chestnut and so on to use them in the other classroom activities. These activities that the will do in the class will help them to reinforce the vocabulary that they acquired.


Kırmızı Başlıklı Kız - Red Hat Girl

Throughout the learning process, it is always very important that the topics that are taught should be related to each other. Otherwise, seperatedly studied topics do not make nay sense to the kids.

As we do from time to time, it was also time to tell a story, "Red Hat Girl". But, Dafne used puppets this time and it arouse the kids' interest more. They were waiting enthusiasticly for this story to be told. Firstly, Dafne performed that story with the puppets and they kids really had good time while watching that.

Then, it was my turn and with my Turkish children I studied that story, "Kırmızı Başlıklı Kız". Firstly, I gave some information about the story and got the puppets and started to perform it. Although it was the second time after the Dutch version, they were still enthusiastic. Furthermore, they wanted me to perform it again and again.

Consequently, the kids were happy and they also wanted to perform it with the puppets and I let them do so. When they finished, they seemed more self-confident which is very important for the future learning process.




Narrating the Story "Sahipsiz Köpek" - "Lonely Dog"

Stories play a crucial role in the education of the kids at this age. The goals that should be achieved are represented by a figure or an event in these stories and the kids get a better under understanding through this way.

In Adinda's and Dafne's classes, I narrated a story about a dog to the Turkish children and its name was "Sahipsiz Köpek" - " Lonely Dog". While narrating, I also showed some pictures from the book and the things that I was telling made sense in their mind.

When I finished, they wanted me to narrate them again and again. While narrating again, I also asked some questions to check whether they understood and they could make connections between the events. Most of them did pretty well.

Finally, I was happy to have such a story-telling with them. When I do something and if it works very well, I want to do something more. I felt this when I saw the happiness in the eyes of the kids.



Going to the Library

Reading is a very important habit that the kids should have from their young ages. The more you read, the better you think, the quicker you find solutions, the wider you consider the world and so on.

With Dafne's class, I went to library so that the students will have a look at the books and get a breath from library. All kids were very eager to go there. Moreover, they were also very happy wen they see that I was also coming with them.

When we arrived there, the man responsible welcomed us. Then, he gave some information about library what they do and how it works. The kids asked the questions that they had and get the answers which satisfied them.

After that, they were allowed to barrow one book. They chose whichever one that they wanted. I also got some story telling books to use it in the class.

All in all, when we came back, the kids very happy and they were looking at their books and comparing them with each other. Lastly, Dafne chose one book and she finished the class by telling a story to the kids.




Study Day - More Languages Both at School and at Home

Language is the key that opens the mysterious rooms of a culture. In this respect, it is also one of the most important components which make us a human-being. Moreover, it is also a way used by the others in order get to know that person better. All in all, language dates back as old as the history of human-beings.

People due to many and various reasons may happen to come to another country. As the nature of being a human is to be socialized with the other, language here plays very vital role.

Here there is an important question what will happen to the people living in a country where the language spoken at home and the one spoken at school are different. These people are actually very luck as they will be bilingual if they develop themselves and culturally rich as there will be different cultural characteristics in their personality because of the spoken languages which are different.

Then, there may be another question that is to say if they experience different cultures both at school and at home, whether they may have a their own cultural identity or not. In real, it is just the opposite they have a strong personality with the help of a wider way of thinking, having different components of both cultures in their character. This actually should be admired by the others.

Language and culture are two most important parts of the mosaic of humanity. People who are open and having a modern way of thinking benefit from the these parts as much as possible. They think that every human being is precious and any of them cannot be neglected. They get adapted to different cultural environments quickly and take the advantage of it. Aren’t the borders between countries enough, why do we have borders between people in social life. Let us break them.




Gettign Know What to Do

It is very important to know the goals of the task that you are doing and how to achieve them. In other words, any wind will not help the ship whose route was not defined. In this respect, I spent the first week by observing the classes and asking as many questions as possible. Thus, my task got very clear in my mind. All in all, after a week of observing the classes that I attend, I started to take part more in this week.

On Tuesday, in Dafne's class, we practiced the song, “Bugün Bayram” – “Today is festival”, that we sang last week. In each practice, the kids were getting more enthusiastic and eager to do perform what I am doing. This also motivated me to do something more. Then, in Adinda’s class, she wanted me to do some activities about farm animals as they will go to a farm next week. I told her that I could practice the popular farm animal song, “Ali Baba’nın Çiftliği” – “Father Ali’s Farm”. She said that it would be cool to do it in the class. It was also interesting for me that she knew about that song.

On Wednesday, we had an appointment with Luc to go to talk with the director of the head of VIP school where I will attend some English classes. At the beginning, we had some problems about finding the right building, but finally we found it and talked with her. She, the director, was really hospitable and enthusiastic about my attending some English classes in their school. Then, we also talked with one of the English teachers whose name was Frank. He gave me some information and we discussed about them. In the end, we had an appointment to meet next week.

On Thursday, in Adinda’s class, she wanted me to help the kids while they are playing a game about farm animals. It was sometimes very difficult for me to play a game with kids at the age of 4 or 5 as they should achieve something, but instead of concentrating on the goals, they would like to play as they want so I had to interrupt them many times. After playing several times, they got what I mean. Moreover, I added some other features to the games so that they will also practice their background information. It is also good to use the same material in different ways to achieve different, but related goals.

This week, I had also chances to talk with students during their lunch break and other break times. I think, the kids and I had a good sense of communication which is one of the most important keys of education. Therefore, we benefit from modern ways instead of traditional one in which there is a tight border between the kids and the teacher. That is to say they admire the teacher instead of being afraid of him so that the goals are accomplished more easily.




Getting Used to

What I actually believe in is that if something starts well, it also ends well. The first week in Piramide was a pretty good one for me in this respect. I had good contact with students, teachers, the other people working there and even with the parents. Moreover, I was always ready to help parents who have difficulty in communicating with the teachers due to their low level of Flemish or English. In this way, a healthy communication was achieved between the teachers and the parents.

This week and a few weeks to come would be the weeks for me to observe the classes and organize what I would like to do and how I should do them in the classroom environment by taking the goals of the project into consideration. This will also make my role more clear in the class as the Comenius Assistant.

Turkish students and the others (although I do not know their language.) were really warm towards me. They were hugging me and trying to pull me from one side in the garden to the other one. Even the ones whose classes I do not attend were smiling to me and asking me questions.

This week I followed Dafne's and Adinda's classes and they were always ready to answer any of my questions and they are also so flexible to make me take part in the classes more actively. For instance, the kids and I were playing some games, having interview in their mother tongue and doing the other activities in Turkish which makes these student more comfortable in the class.

Education is crucial in one's life. Education is a combination of school building, school environment, teachers, equipments for students, parents, care-takers at school and the students who are in the center in the process. They are given the utmost importance as they will be the future of the world. A kid changes and a world changes. Thus, any kids cannot be overlooked in the education.




First Contact & First Touch....

The 15th of September was the first day of my Comenius Assistanship. It can be also considered that this was the first working day of mine after graduation from university. I was a little bit excited, but at the same time self-confident enough to do anything in the class.

Magda, the director of the school, told me that I will start with Hilde's class in the morning and then will go on with Dafne's class in the afternoon and on Wednesday in the morning.

In Hilde's class, there are pupils who are 2.5 or 3 years old. She also works with Marleen who is a part-time teacher in Piramide. As this week, it would be like a orientation week, I was just trying to discover this new environment and the kids, as well. The pupils were so young and when the teachers introduced me to them, they were a little bit shy at the same time. Yet, it did not take so much time to get used to each other. I started to play with kids, help the teachers in the class and meet the needs of the pupils.

Their love towards me was so pure and their feelings were so innocent, this made me really happy; moreover, it motivated me to do more. I was also asking as many questions as possible to the teachers whenever I have time to get answers. They were patiently answering my questions in a very detailed way.

In break times, the teachers were also great to help me to get orientated to the school.

In the afternoon, I attended classes with Dafne. Her class was older than Hilde's. Getting adapted to the Dafne's class also did not take so much time and the kids adopted me as their teacher quickly. We played some games in Turkish so that they can understand the rules better. It worked a little bit, but still there are some. However, it is also something related with their mental development; in other words, to have such problems at this age is acceptable.

In brief, the first day at the school was pretty good and it seems that while I am tryng to teach something, I will learn many things, as well. Now, I understand better why education is a life-long process.







Introduction to the Teachers

On the 14th of September, Luc told me that I will have some time to introduce myself to my future colleagues in Piramide and to get them close Turkey a little bit. In the presentation, I tried to give as much detailed information as possible about me so that they will have an idea about "Who Ufuk is?" better.I was also ready for the possible questions. I think that I did my presentation as well as I was expected. All in all, I strongly believe that the school and I will benefit from this experience greatly in this process.


Tour of Gent on the 5th of September

Today, my landlord Lucie and I had a great tour of Gent. She showed me some important places in Gent. I had some shopping and was trying to discover this city at the same time... As most of the people speak English well, it will not be a problem for me to communicate, but I will learn their language anyway.

Arrival in Belgium on the 4th of September

I arrived at Belgium on th 4th of Sepember. Then, I came to Gent by Train and had a nice chat with a woman on the train. After that, Luc welcomed me very warmly at the train station in Gent. Finally, we came where I was going to stay...