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School & Teaching

    Christmas Craft Fair

    Our school hosts an annual Christmas Craft Fair the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Several ladies work February through November handmaking hundreds of beautiful holiday decorations and gifts. I joined a group of teachers one night and we helped finish up a few crafts. These ladies are super talented and so creative!


    Oasis Christmas Craft Fair


    Aside from the crafts, there is a cafe and coffee bar set up in the canteen. (I got a delicious peppermint mocha!) Santa also makes an appearance.

    I was asked to be one of Santa’s elves at the fair. David was sort of “voluntold” to be an elf with me. He wasn’t so sold on the idea at first, but I think he secretly knew he would like it!


    Oasis Christmas Craft Fair


    Oasis Christmas Craft Fair


    We told all of the kids that Santa was coming in true elf style: “Santa’s coming! I know him!” All of the craftiness was happening on the first floor of the school. A few minutes before Santa went downstairs, we peaked over the railing with him at the kids. We sang, “You better watch out, you better not cry! You better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town.” Then Santa ho ho ho’ed and we escorted him to his spot.


    Benedict Christmas Elves


    I had a Miracle on 34th Street moment when our Santa spoke Turkish to some children! We’ve see a few Santa decorations around the mall, but ours was one of the very few real live Santas in Turkey. By the way, did you know Saint Nicholas was from Myra, part of modern day Turkey?

    We had a lot of fun getting into the Christmas spirit by elfing (elving?). And we’re super excited to celebrate Christmas with our students this Friday!


    Creating Chimeras

    I teach a Computer Graphic Design class comprised of mostly 11th and 12th graders. We started the semester learning about vectors and branding, and then moved onto raster graphics. Our school uses Gimp, a photo editing program similar to Photoshop.

    When I took a design class in high school, we created chimeras. I thought my students would enjoy the project, too.

    A chimera is a Greek mythological creature made up of parts from a lion, goat, and snake. It was mentioned in Homer’s Illiad. Today, the term chimera describes any fictional animal made of 2 or more animal parts.

    My students had to use parts from at least 3 different animals. They mostly used layer masks and color adjustments to create their chimeras.

    They are a very talented group of students, and I am very proud of them!


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Chimera created by an OIS Ankara student


    Which one was your favorite?



    Library Book Sale

    This week is a short week with two half days for parent/teacher conferences and Thursday off for Thanksgiving. Today was the first day of parent/teacher conferences.

    Keeping with the plans of the previous librarian, I ran the annual Library Book Sale to raise funds for new books. Our school receives many donations, not all of which we can use or have room for in our library. We also include damaged and other discarded books in the sale. There were several hundred magazines and picture, juvenile fiction, adult fiction, and non-fiction books. All items cost 1 lira regardless of size or condition.


    Students browsing books at the book sale.


    Kids and parents stopped by before class, during breaks and recess, and in between conferences. I can’t believe how quickly everything sold! There are not nearly as many books left for the sale tomorrow. I was also amazed that people purchased the ratty, worn books. There was one book with its front and back cover completely torn off. And yet, someone liked the book enough to purchase it!

    Seeing the joy in the kids’ eyes was a lot of fun for me. Very few books were in new condition, yet they were so excited to have new books to read and call their own.  It made me want to pull all of the unprocessed books and put them in the sale. (Don’t worry – I didn’t!) Several kids came back to the sale three, sometimes four times today.

    I can relate. I was an absolute bookworm when I was younger. I’d get in trouble for reading by my nightlight when I should have been in bed. I remember filling out a worksheet in 3rd grade that asked about my dream job. I wrote down librarian. Since 3rd grade, my dreams and aspirations went down different paths. I never would have guessed I’d become a librarian so many years later!

    It was also surprising to hear the students talk to their parents. We have an English-only rule during the school day. I did several double takes when I heard kids speaking a different language. Many of our students speak English so well I had no idea it wasn’t the language they spoke at home.

    Literacy is a gift denied to many. I pray our students will have a lifetime love of reading.


    [box]“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass[/box]


    [box]“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.” – A. C. Grayling[/box]


    [box]“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” – Walt Disney[/box]



    Students Say The Funniest Things

    Our international school has approximately 250 preschool through 12th grade students. I see all of the elementary classes once a week for library. David has his 6th grade classroom and also sees many of the elementary and middle school kids for Bible and Character Development. Here are a few recent quotes.


    Flags hanging in our school

    Our school displays flags from all of the home countries of our students.



    Mrs. B! Go fly, bee! Bee!” – K4 kids to me
    It is hard for them to say Benedict, so I told them they could call me Mrs. B. I drew a picture of a bee on the chalkboard. Not all of the K4 kids are native English speakers, but they all laughed when they made the connection.



    Mrs. Benedict, do you have a rubber?” – High school student
    “A what?!” – Me
    “An eraser?”  – High school student
    “Oh, yes.”  – Me

    Some European and US terms have different meanings.



    Mrs. Benedict, do you have a child?” – 2nd grader
    “No, I do not.” – Me
    “Oh. Are you going to have one?” – 2nd grader



    At home, we speak-a the Chinese because we from-a the Chinese.” — Kindergartner to David

    Teacha no like talk, quiet!” – Same kindergartner to classmates when told to be quiet.



    I teach Graphic Design to high schoolers. I recently gave a quiz over raster graphics that included file extensions. I gave the abbreviation and students had to tell what the letters represented. For TIFF (tagged image file format), one student put “Extra Terrestrial’s Intergalatic File Format.” A for effort!



    There is one preschool student who is learning English. She must have recently learned colors and always says, “Pink! Pink! I like pink!” when we color. (It sounds more like “peeeeeeeeeeeeeeenk”!) In library, I read Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. When we finished the book, I asked them questions about what their mothers looked like.

    What color is your mother’s hair?” – Me
    “Black.” – Student 1
    “What color is your mother’s hair?” – Me
    “Black.” – Student 2
    “What color is your mother’s hair?” – Me
    “Black.” – Student 3  (Since I pointed to my hair when I asked hair color, maybe they misunderstood the question…)
    “What color is your mother’s hair?” – Me
    PIIIIIIINK!” – Student 4



    David was handing a K4 student his lost jacket one morning when a 2nd grade student walked up and said, “Mr. B., I think that looks like it’s mine.”
    To which David replied, “Andrea, I don’t think so… I think you are wearing yours.”
    He looked down at himself so his chin was in his chest, grinned, and said, “Oh…”



    Mrs. Benedict, how many pairs of earrings do you have?” – 3rd grader
    “Oh, probably less than 10 pairs.” – Me
    “I should get you some more earrings for your birthday.” – 3rd grader



    The drops from your eyes are what hurts my heart the most.” – One of David’s Spanish speaking students translating a song into English.



    Er-rur-ruh-tated.” – An ESL student trying to say the two r’s in irritated.


    We have the coolest students ever!


    Volleyball and Fall Carnival

    For the past several weeks, I have been helping two of my co-workers and friends coach the boys volleyball team. I’ve learned a lot and have enjoyed getting to know some of the older kids. (I contact with all of the elementary students at least once a week, but I rarely see the secondary students.)

    I’ve also enjoyed getting to know the coaches, Bo and Greg. Both are extremely dedicated to their work with the kids at Oasis. It was fun to see them work together and I was encouraged by their willingness to help me learn. It is obvious they are influential role models at the school.


    Oasis Volleyball

    One of our volleyball games earlier this season.


    This week was the big tournament to wrap up the season. We had two games on Wednesday, one game on Thursday, and one game on Saturday. We went into Saturday’s game confident, having won all of our previous games. The opposing team was also undefeated and they ended up winning the championship. The first set Oasis played had a close score the entire game and ended 24–26. The boys played hard the rest of the match, but could not squeeze out a win. I was very proud how the team demonstrated sportsmanship and character, even in a loss.

    To add to the craziness of a week filled with the volleyball tournament, teacher observations, PSATs, and a college fair (there were five schools from Michigan!) our school hosted the annual Fall Carnival on Friday. Fall Carnival is a time of fun and food put on by the students, teachers, and parents of Oasis. Each class is responsible for designing a game for the carnival. Parents and students sign up for shifts. There’s an international cafe and plenty of candy to go around.

    My sixth graders designed a game for our classroom called “Secret Agent Man.” The students were very excited and each donated three lira towards extra “mega” prizes. It turned out our game was slightly complicated, and I hung around the classroom most of the night to make sure it ran smoothly. It was a lot of work, but the students had so much fun. It was also nice spending time with the parents. They are all very nice and care so much about their kids.


    Fall Carnival Prizes


    Fall Carnival Game


    One of the highlights of my night was liking sushi for the first time! The International Cafe is comprised of food prepared by parents. Each dish represents a different culture. It was fun to try the different foods, but the sushi really stuck out to me. I’ve tried some fo-sushi in the States and never liked it. However, the rice and the fish were perfectly put together and it was delicious.


    International Cafe at Fall Carnival


    To wrap up the busy week, Leah and I walked to a local restaurant on Saturday for dinner. It was nice to slow down and enjoy each other.

    When we got back, we took some time to call home. My grandpa just celebrated his 88th birthday. It was great to catch up with him and Grandma. He is one of my most influential role models and has sacrificed so much to bring our family where we are today.

    We only have school Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week because of the Byram holiday. On Thursday, we are traveling to Izmir and Ephesus for a few days!



    1. Health for us, the other teachers, and students: As it must be at every other school, there is (always) something going around. We’ve been fighting sore throats and other aches and pains for the past couple of weeks. Please pray we will not get sick so we can teach and serve the kids!
    2. Our ESL Kids: We have several students that are English as a Second Language. They have made impressive progress since the beginning of the year. Please pray they will continue to learn quickly.
    3. Safe travel: As I mentioned, we are going to Izmir and Ephesus later this week. We’re traveling with two other teachers via bus.



    Things To Smile About

    Sixty degree fall weather made a quick appearance last weekend! I’m hoping it decides to visit again soon and stay forever. Fall is my favorite season. The color on the trees, the cool weather that’s perfect for scarves and sweaters…

    I miss some things about fall we had in the states: pumpkin spice lattes, corn mazes, football games… But there are many things I am smiling about this fall in Turkey!

    Some color on the trees and vines (even though we’ve had mostly 80 degree weather!):


    Fall leaves in Ankara


    This candle.… Even if I can’t drink a pumpkin spice latte, our house can smell like one! (David got this for me when he was at the U.S. military base. He also got me a Rice Krispie Treat and Cheez-Its. He sure knows the ways to this girl’s heart.)


    Pumpkin Yankee Candle


    A sweet thank you card from the cutest little Asian kindergartener:


    A thank you card from a kindergartener


    The beautiful roses outside the entrance to the school:


    Roses outside the school


    The impressive work my Computer Graphic Design students are creating:


    Computer Graphic Design high school class projects


    Great deals at the mall… I got this cute necklace for 5 lira (less than $3 USD), originally 20 lira! I’m still a bargain shopper even in Turkey. This reminds me of my late grandma; she always liked owls:


    Own Necklace


    Evening walks with wonderful friends… I took this photo in Kizilay. Let’s pretend these are Christmas decoration lights:


    Nighttime in Kizilay, Turkey


    I have much to smile about here in my new home! To name a few more: worshipping with other believers in church on Sunday; diving deeper into the Word in the women’s Bible study I attend; hearing sweet, little voices greet us in the mornings at school; getting to know students more through extra curricular activities… the list goes on and on! God has truly blessed us here!