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School & Teaching

    A Little Tree

    Today is International Day for our upper elementary students. Many kids dressed up to represent their home country. Later today, they’ll share traditional food.

    The kids were playing outside before the bell rang. I went out to take photos and David had morning duty. David dressed up like a farmer to represent America. He grabbed a stalk of some plant to substitute for a piece of wheat and stuck it behind his ear.

    I noticed one of our ESL first graders looking very confused.

    What’s wrong?” I asked him. “What are you looking at?”

    What is Mr. Benedict doing with… that little tree?”


    David with a wheat stalk



    ActiveWater 5K

    I teach a class for seventh and eighth graders called Personal Management. The purpose of this class is to help teens establish life skills and develop healthy habits. As a class, we have been studying and just finished Sean Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective TeensOne of the chapters focuses around synergy (a term my class insists I’ve overused). The basis of synergy, according to Covey, is working together to achieve more.

    As a follow-up project, I helped my class organize a 5K race to raise funds for ActiveWater. According to their website, “ActiveWater is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses the athletic lifestyle and grassroots campaigns to bring clean water and sanitation projects to needed communities throughout the globe.” ActiveWater focuses on installing wells and bio-sand filters, while also training individuals to repair them.

    I thought this project would give students a chance to step out of the Oasis bubble and participate in something that would help them learn about the needs of others. In the weeks leading up to the 5K, my students prepared forms, posters, and presentations. Several of my students designed games for the fifth and sixth grade classes to help communicate the difficulties people encounter every day in order to get clean water.


    A junior high student tells the elementary students about the water crisis.


    My students had so many great ideas. One suggested setting up a water carboy for donations. Another student came up with the idea to pass a smaller jug around at lunch to collect spare change. We received several donations through these two ideas and both were a major part of our fundraiser.


    The ActiveWater donation jug


    Another way we earned money was by selling t-shirts for the 5K. One of my students had an idea to hold a Blue-Out day to raise awareness. On the day of the race, students could pay 1 lira to wear blue instead of dress code requirements. Several students wore their race t-shirts.


    Students wore blue shirts on blue out day


    I split my class into different committees with different roles. One group worked the registration desk on the day of the race. They did a great job representing Oasis and ActiveWater.


    Registration table


    It was the first time I had organized an event like this, so I was a little nervous. However, with the help of several friends, my concerns were put to rest. I realized most of the people at the race were happy to run and make a difference. They were not concerned about technicalities.


    5K ActiveWater race in Turkey


    Although you can’t see them all here, there were over 40 participants in the race. There were several who even made it a family event. Elementary students, high-school students, and adults all lined up at the starting line.


    At the start line of the 5K race


    And then they were off!!!


    ActiveWater 5K Race


    First and second place runners


    We had three age categories: fifth through eighth graders, high schoolers, and adults. Winners from each age division were given a gift card to a local athletic store.


    Age division winners


    I was so proud of my personal management class. It was a lot of fun to see the students get excited. I hope it will have a lasting impact on their lives.


    Personal Management class


    Through all of our efforts, we raised over 1600 Turkish Lira (close to $950!). But most importantly, the students, runners, volunteers, parents, and I got to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.


    Counting the ActiveWater donations


    On a personal note, I learned a lot through this experience. I toyed around with the idea several times before sending an email to ActiveWater. This project helped me become more passionate about helping those who are less fortunate than myself, something my Christian faith calls me to do. The support of the students, teachers, and administration was amazing and made me wonder why I ever doubted if it could work.

    Many thanks to Amie at ActiveWater for the encouragement and many ideas she passed along during the planning process. She even took time out of her morning to Skype with my class. And many thanks to my students for their ideas and ambition to make a difference in the world.

    Learn more about ActiveWater and how you can get involved at

    Students Say The Funniest Things: Part 2

    Our international school has approximately 250 preschool through 12th grade students. I see all of the elementary classes once a week for library and some high school students for an elective. 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 quotes from the past couple of months.


    Kids waiting outside



    Conversations with a 2nd grader:
    “Mrs. Benedict, are you and Mr. Benedict married?”
    “Yes, we are.”
    “Why don’t you have a baby?”
    “Well, we haven’t been married very long and haven’t decided to have a baby yet. Besides, if I had a baby, I wouldn’t be able to teach you! Would you rather me be your teacher or have a baby?”
    “Have a baby!!! Pleeeeeease?!”



    Quotes from a Chinese kindergartner during David’s Bible class:

    I sat down funny, so she looked up, smiled and said, “Today I look like Mr. B is very funny. Today look like a funny and happy day for Mr. B.”

    When I introduced the lesson, Jesus Calming the Storm, she said, “Why we talka about Jesus all day long? Because-ah my mom, at home-ah, talk about Jesus too.”

    And on a different day:
    “Mr. B, your face look like so funny today!”



    I always read a book to the kids during their library time. The kintergardeners love to ask, “Why?” or “How come?” as I am reading. I always tell them, “Keep listening! We’ll find out!” The kindergartener mentioned above caught onto this.

    Mrs. B always say we’ll find out. We’ll find out! We’ll find out!”

    For the rest of the book, every time I finished a page, she would say, “Why? …We’ll find out!” She got such a kick out of it and laughed and laughed.



    3rd grader during computers talking to a friend:
    “Windows 95 is old. Everyone always talks about how great it is, but it is so old!”



    I went to pick up the 2nd graders for library. While we were waiting for everyone to line up, one girl said, “Mrs. Benedict, I like your shoes!”

    I said, “Thank you!” I was wearing my pointed-toe metallic flats.

    They look like elf shoes.”

    You think so? I guess they kind of are my elf shoes!”



    D: My Italian student walked into my classroom one morning and handed me his iPad and headphones. He said, “Mr. Benedict, you have to listen… Is very good song!” I placed the headphones on my ears and what I heard was mind baffling. The voices of the Backstreet Boys sang, “I want it that way.”



    D: One morning, an ESL (English as a second language) preschool student said, “Poopy.”
    I said, “That is not a very nice thing to say. You need to watch your mouth. That’s not appropriate.”
    As tears welled up in his eyes, I instantly knew I had hit a language barrier.
    Through sobs and deep breaths he blubbered, “I can’t even see my mouth!”
    (That’s the last time I tell an ESL student they need to watch their mouth!)



    I had the first graders for library one day. I showed them the cover of the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and told them the title. Next, I turned the book around to show them the picture of the author and told them, “This is who wrote the book.”

    One of our new students who does not know a lot of English shouted, “This boy is no beautiful!”

    Take a look:


    Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree cover



    » Read Students Say the Funniest Things: Part 1



    Oasis Cheerleaders

    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:


    Cheerleading thigh stands


    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:


    Oasis Cheerleaders


    David and Daniel played in the men vs. boys game. Both student teams beat the adults.


    Students vs Staff basketball game


    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):


    Cheerleading ribbons


    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!


    Cheering at the halftime show


    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!


    Goofy cheerleaders



    100th Day of School

    Last week included the 100th day school has been in session this year. To celebrate, the lower elementary dressed up like 100-year-old men and women. I was excited because it was my day to teach the K4 (Preschool) and K5 (Kindergarten) Bible class.


    Elementary Bible Class


    When I went to pick up the K4 and K5 students, I came around the corner to a number of ancient looking boys and girls. We had a lot of fun in Bible class. I made a Psalm 100 coloring page and we sang it as a song. “Shout for joy to the Lord!”

    I enjoyed acting like an old man and tying in a Bible lesson to the 100th day of school activities. I have so much fun with all my Bible classes. I am often humbled by the faith these little individuals have in their Creator.

    But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:14 (ESV)


    Coloring in Bible


    100th Day of School in Bible


    100th Day of School in Bible


    100th Day of School in Bible


    Leah took a few pictures of 100th Day of School festivities, too:


    100th Day of School glasses


    100th Day of School Sign



    Twas The Night Before Christmas Break…

    We hope you are enjoying this Christmas season! One of our sponsors blessed us with a trip home for our break, and we are loving our time with friends and family.

    Our travel home was interesting! Our original flight route was Ankara, to Munich, to Manchester, to Washington D.C., to Detroit. The runways in Munich were icy and we were rerouted to Vienna. We sat on the tarmac  for an hour or two, then headed back to Munich. We had missed our other flights and stood in the service line for over 3 hours trying to reschedule. Thankfully, we were able to get a flight to New Jersey that left a half an hour after we booked. Unfortunately, once in the states, we got held up in customs and missed our flight to Detroit. But fortunately, the airline paid for a really nice hotel for the night and gave us meal vouchers. We were only a day late but made it to Michigan safe and sound!


    Christmas reader


    Christmas class


    We enjoyed celebrating Christmas with our students. David’s 6th grade class made a special video! Enjoy!