I’ve been helping coach the 3rd through 7th grade cheerleaders. We meet once a week to practice cheers, jumps, basic stunts, and dances.
Several basketball games were cancelled this year, including the big tournament. The school arranged one final game for Monday. The girls were super excited not only to cheer, but also for their first ever halftime performance! They worked hard in practice to perfect their stunt groups:
We found out the day of the game that the other team dropped out. We didn’t want the players and the cheerleaders to be disappointed again. Since we had already rented the space, the teachers and parents quickly assembled teams.
The cheerleaders used a projector and markers to create a good luck sign earlier in the semester, and we hung it up in the gym:
David and Daniel played in the men vs. boys game. Both student teams beat the adults.
My friend has done a fantastic job coaching the cheerleaders! It’s been fun for me to help. She has thought of everything, even down to the hair ribbons with super cute glitter paw prints (our mascot is the lion):
The girls performed 3 short cheers and chants for their halftime show. The last cheer ended in thigh stand formations. The girls were so cute and did a really great job!
I think it worked out well that the game was student vs. staff. It was laid back and took a lot of pressure off of the cheerleaders, especially with it being their first performance. What a sweet group of girls!
The last day of January was my 25th birthday. The boys did a great job of making it special!
David made me breakfast in the morning and also gave me presents.
He was most excited for me to open the personalized calligraphed plate. There is a company called İstanbul Kaligrafi that has a kiosk in Kentpark mall. We’ve passed by it several times, and I always stop to watch them draw the calligraphy. David was so sweet to get me one! It is beautiful piece of art we will display for years to come.
David got a photo of the man drawing:
And Daniel took a video:
The boys got me another work of art – this lovely chocolate and pistachio cake. It was super delicious and came with candles and sparklers. (The sparklers were a little dangerous and did not blow out!)
To top it all off, two of my students got me a beautiful scarf and glove set and I received several sweet cards. I am one spoiled girl!
Last night, David and I went with another couple to a jazz concert. We saw the Murat İşbilen Quintet perform. The group featured 2 guitar players, a bass player, a percussionist, and a violinist. The concert was held on the campus of Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (known in English as Middle East Technical University) as part of the Ankara Jazz Festival.
When I heard it was a jazz festival, I was expecting to hear the blues. The group’s sound was instead a beautiful mix of classical guitar, latin rhythms, and folk music. Our friend said their style fit more into the smooth jazz category. It was amazing to watch the guitarist’s fingers fly! At times it was hard to believe that so many different sounds were being produced simultaneously from the same instrument.
They did not mention anything about restricting photography or recording, so I took a short video:
This year is the 16th annual Ankara Jazz Festival. There are performances at various locations throughout the city from January through March. We hope to maybe see one or two more groups!
David started taking classical guitar lessons when he was 6. I think the concert really inspired him, and he tried out some of his old sheet music when we got home. It was a night of great company and great music!
Last night we went to a mall to pick up a few groceries and supplies. (Our neighborhood has a few small grocery stores, but they do not carry everything. When we need certain items, we shop at the larger grocery stores in the malls.) We decided to grab some dinner, too.
We were very excited the new Subway in Kentpark’s food court had opened! Subway is a favorite of ours, and it’s always nice to get a taste of home while we’re overseas. (There are several American chain restaurants in Turkey like McDonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, KFC, and Arby’s, though the taste and quality is usually quite far from what we have in the States.)
While they did not have the full Subway spread of meats and cheeses, they did have some familiar favorites. I got the teriyaki chicken on honey oat bread. They had sweet onion sauce, and my sandwhich tasted just like it does at home. David got the spicy Italian.
The people that work there are super nice, and some of them spoke English.
We also ran into one of the families from our school. Just a bunch of forigners at eating at Subway!
Friday was a half day of school for the kids and a teacher work day for us. Our students went home around noon, and we were treated to a lunch provided by the parent association. Most of us were working in our classrooms when we received the news that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara had been bombed.
There were a lot of unanswered questions. Some initial online reports said many were killed, some that one or two were killed, many were injured, several were injured, it was a suicide bomber, someone just threw a package… We were concerned for our kids and their parents.
We later learned the embassy had been hit by a suicide bomber. The man killed a Turkish guard and injured several others. (Read the CNN report at this link.) A Reuters article said “the bomber was a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left group which is virulently anti-U.S. and anti-NATO and is listed as a terrorist organization by Washington.”
Thank you for all of the messages asking if we were okay. We so appreciate your prayers, concern, and support.
The embassy is far enough away from our neighborhood that we did not feel threatened the day of the event. We felt and continue to feel safe. In talking with family, we were reminded events like this could and unfortunately have happened everywhere in the world – riots near colleges, extremists in big cities, and shootings in places you’d never imagine a tragedy occurring.
We rest in God’s good and perfect will. We will be cautious, and ask that you please remember our school and this country in your prayers.
- Safety for the country of Turkey.
- The safety of our students and their parents: Many of our students’ families work for embassies and government offices.
- Please also pray for those that were injured and for the friends, family, and coworkers of the Turkish guard Mustafa Akarsu who lost his life. He is survived by his wife, an 18-year-old son, and a 15-year-old daughter.
Before Christmas break, David and I visited our neighbor to drop off a plate of goodies. She was excited to hear Daniel would be visiting us in Turkey. This past weekend, she asked if she could meet him. One of our friends is taking language lessons from her and offered to translate.
We thought she coming to our house for çay (Turkish tea). Some friends told us it is traditional to serve two salty things and one sweet thing with çay. We stocked up on simit (bread with sesame seeds), a dry bread, and cookies at the grocery store. Our neighbor must have thought the plan was to meet at her place. We walked over to check if she was still coming. She invited us in, but we got things figured out and she and her husband came over shortly after. We had our çay pot on the stove and were surprised when she walked in with her pot. Little did she know these foreigners have learned how to make çay!
Our neighbor is always a teacher. She loves to help us as we stumble through our limited Turkish. She zeroed in on Daniel when she learned he was taking a language course. She flipped through his notebook from class and gave him a mini lesson on dishes.
We were so glad our friend was there to translate! There was a lot less charades this visit. However, we did use a lot of our Turkish to English dictionaries.
This was the first time we had Turks over to our apartment. It is customary for the woman of the house to serve the guests and refill glasses. And aside from a slight mishap of me dropping the lid of the çay pot, the visit went well. We all had our fill of çay and understood most of the conversation (thanks to our translator!).