Friday, September 11, 2015

Orientation Day 11: Multiple Intelligences & Ambassador's Reception

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Orientation continued again with the three ladies from the State Department. Today we learned about how to engage our students with writing prompts such as sentence starters, prompt starters for stories, and incomplete pictures that students can finish and write about. It’s been kind of exhausting to do every activity, which feels a bit amateur to us since we already speak English. One recommendation I have for next year’s Orientation program would be to shorten the length of these sessions because they are excruciatingly long. Apparently Turkey has the longest Orientation program than any other country hosting Fulbrighters.

We also discussed Howard Gardner’s famous theory of “Multiple Intelligences” from his 1983 book Frames of Mind, in which he proposes the existence of at least eight basic intelligences. Gardner sought to broaden the scope of human potential beyond the confines of the IQ score and suggested that intelligence has more to do with the capacity for (1) problem solving and (2) fashioning products in a context-rich and naturalistic setting. I remember learning about this in Mr. Cabral’s eleventh grade AP English Language class; he made us debate about the existence of these intelligences. I believe I sided on the “YES” team. The point of discussing this theory was to be aware of different learning styles and to incorporate different types of activities into our lesson plans.

For those of you who are curious about Gardener’s 8 intelligences, they are listed below along with activities that help those types of learners learn best. I identify with the logic, visual, and interpersonal intelligences. Which do you identify with?

  • Verbal-Linguistic --> capacity to use words effectively; activities = storytelling, writing journals, reading aloud, debating
  • Logic-Mathematical --> capacity to use numbers effectively; activities = problem solving, sequencing, puzzles, using money or geometry
  • Visual-Spatial --> ability to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately; activities = graphing, sketching, painting, illustrating, mapping
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic --> expertise in using one’s whole body to express ideas and feelings; activities = dancing, crafts, hands-on experiments
  • Musical --> capacity to perceive and express in musical forms; activities = rapping, humming, singing, rhyming
  • Interpersonal --> ability to perceive and make distinctions in moods, intentions, motivations, and feelings of other people; activities = peer editing, discussing, study group, conflict mediation, social awareness, teaching, cooperative learning
  • Intrapersonal --> self-knowledge and ability to act adaptively on the basis of that knowledge; activities = personal response, goal setting, journal log keeping, independent projects
  • Naturalistic --> ability to easily recognize and classify plants, animals, and other things in nature; activities = reading outside, bird watching, gardening, dissecting
One lady also walked us through how to resourcefully use the website for teaching materials. The website is filled with books, audio, music, American culture, articles, worksheets, readings, and all sorts of content for both English teachers and English learners. The end of this session was followed by a question that triggered an important discussion. One Fulbrighter asked: how can we make sure that we are not imposing English as an imperialist tool? The State Department representative answered by saying that English is a tool for global communication, not necessarily imperialist values. We have to distinguish between cultural exchange and cultural superiority; I personally believe that our role as “cultural ambassadors” is not to Americanize our students, but rather to teach them English and empower them to partake in the global economy and global communication. While we cannot turn back the clocks, and it is certainly important to acknowledge imperialist history, we must also be practical with the realities of today’s world. English is definitely a tool in my opinion for global exchange of ideas and access to information. At the very least, we are enabling our students to spread their Turkish language by engaging with English speakers.

We received our residency permits today, hooray! This is basically our driver’s license / ID card here in Turkey – we must carry it with us at all times.

Reception at the Ambassador’s Residence

Karlene, myself, Alex, and Erika before the reception.
We had a two-hour break before the fancy reception hosted by U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Mr. John Bass, at his residence. We met at the hotel lobby at 6:30p before departing. Everyone looked charming; boys wore suits and ties, and women wore formal dresses. I wore my favorite yellow dress (the last time I wore this was on my last day of work at Liberty Mutual), manila colored pointy heels, and large pearl earring studs. Alex curled my hair and did my eye make-up so I looked even fancier than I intended. We took photos in the lobby while waiting for our buses, and many peers complimented my outfit (I think because I was the only one wearing bright yellow).

The security guards at the gate checked our passports to verify our names on the guest list before allowing us to enter Mr. Ambassador’s Residence. The house was beautiful! It reminded me of a Pakistani bungalow, with large lawns, numerous rooms decorated with furniture and collectibles, expensive paintings on the wall, and china in the dining room. The reception was mainly on the lawn, but we were allowed to walk around the lower level and observe the rooms. Ambassadors live quite well when they are abroad.

I mingled with State Department officials and learned about their work at the embassy. One day, inshAllah, I will also be working at a U.S. Embassy and perhaps doing similar public diplomacy work. I also saw my Turkish hocam (pronounced “hojam” which means ‘my teacher’), met two ladies from Antalya, and a few other officials who were affiliated with the embassy.

With U.S. Amb. to Turkey, Mr. John Bass.
Since there was no dinner to be served, I indulged in the various hors d’oeuvres being offered throughout the cocktail-style party. Mr. Ambassador made welcoming remarks and Dr. Professor Ersel Aydinli also addressed the crowd by publicly thanking the State Department for their cooperation and his staff for the hard work in coordinating this program. After these speeches, I greeted the Ambassador, introduced myself, and asked for his advice for my future career in the U.S. Foreign Service. He said to pick an area of regional or functional specialty in graduate school and become an expert in it. I thank him for his time, snagged a photo with him before a long line formed to take selfies with him. I also spoke to his wife, Holly, who is a foreign service officer as well. She, too, had a large crowd of people waiting to ask her questions.

Other than losing my pearl ring on the lawn, the reception was wonderful.

Lesson Learned
Later that night, I decided to go out with my friends because I was in a festive mood. I hung out with Alex and a peer named Casey Mangan. He is a renewing grantee and a very sincere young man. He gave us a lot of good advice about the next 9 months and acted as a brother to many female colleagues. Just as we were about to leave the bar, we saw a few other Fulbrighters hanging out with a young Turkish man. They were about to go dancing and asked if we wanted to join them. We said we would check it out for a few minutes but were very tired and wanted to go back to the hotel soon. We walked for 10 minutes and realized that this mysterious dancing place was not nearby at all, which is what the Turkish man had promised us. Our gut instinct was not to trust him and to return to our hotel. Casey and Jordan also noticed that there were two men following us the entire time. I got a little scared and hoped that nothing bad would happen. Casey’s Turkish and leadership helped us get out of this situation; we simply told the Turkish man we did not want to dance and walked the other way. Tensions ran high amongst our group because some girls wanted to dance and others wanted continue to flirt with their newly acquainted Turkish men. Jordan stepped up and convinced them all to leave immediately and we all hurried back to the hotel.

Alhamdulillah (thank God) we were safe, however, I learned a very important lesson that night: to always trust your gut instincts and to always check your surroundings whenever you are outside, especially at night. I was grateful that Casey and Jordan were the two male, more experienced colleagues in our group to save the evening! Alex and I must be very careful in Antalya.

Güle Güle!

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