Day 2 of my exchange with AIESEC, the work-abroad society that has turned out to be somewhat cult-like, but I could only mean that in the best possible sense. Unlike the other interns, who have had a few days to settle in, I have been thrown straight into the working day. My exchange involves 5 days a week of working in a summer school, which initially sounded daunting, but whilst proving to be a challenge, it’s also more satisfying than I could have anticipated.
From swimming to riding to fencing (yes, fencing) the seven to nine year-olds in my summer school class could not be any more active and adventurous. I’ve taken to being addressed by eager faces as ‘Teacher Nee-co-la’ and have had to think fast of various games and lessons to keep the class entertained in between their surprising sports schedule. Luckily, I am working with a friendly Puerto-Rican intern, who is both practically fluent in English and experienced in the lifestyle of Adana, the fifth-largest city in Turkey in which we are staying.
Although tiring, there’s never a dull moment in the working day. I’ve only taught the children for three days, but already got to know them as individuals and teach them about England. Emre, the smartest of the class, proves to be a handful from time to time, his ability to get effortlessly ahead of the rest sometimes leading him to make entertainment of his own and distract the class with chatter I cannot follow a word of. Fortunately, the two Turkish summer school teachers I work with are able to help me when this happens, the only other instruction coming from the chess teacher. The children’s chess lesson at first was at first interesting, but this soon gave way to toe-curling embarrassment, as the children came bounding over to tell me they had won, only to find me helplessly baffled by the instructor.
Suddenly, with the chess tournament (thankfully) over, everyone was hurried downstairs for one last reheasal of the performance the children were to give to their parents on Friday. The show was a recreation of ‘Shrek Karaoke’, with a cast of Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Gingerbread Man and the chorus. Whilst the first rehearsal was very entertaining (Turkish children singing and dancing to a medley to include the YMCA, anyone?), it was also a shame, because Friday’s performance was to be the last I’d ever see of this class- a new class is to start on Monday and remain for the rest of my exchange. Friday soon came around and was occupied mainly by the preparation of props and costumes for the big day. Although this seems uneducational, teaching in the summer school provides limitless opportunities to get the children testing and improving their English. Colouring in the ginger-bread man costume, for instance, soon turned into a lesson of naming colours inEnglish.
Before long, the excited chatter of parents began to fill the beautiful grounds of the school. Promptly, the show began, with main stars Shrek and Fiona. It was surprisingly moving to see everything come together. Even though I’d only known of the show for a few days, I found myself knowing the words and moves from joining in during rehearsal. The finishing touch to the day was the sweet array of goodbyes.
Although the working day is long and, at times, very hectic, it’s not even half of the AIESEC experience. My host family have been welcoming in every aspect. I’m staying with three sisters, who have said I can address them as ‘abla’, meaning ‘big sister’. They took me to dinner with their relatives, who made delicious traditional dishes and presented me with gifts. Even though I’ve only been here for a few days, I’ve already seen so much of Adana and have met up with other interns, so that we can share our experiences and spend our evenings together. Because of this, I feel like I’ve met people from all over the world: AIESEC is a truly international organisation that I could not recommend enough to anyone with an interest in travel or other cultures.
06-07-2010 – 09-07-2010