Let’s begin with the Bosphorus. There’s a reason why great civilizations of times past were drawn to water. I pass the strait that divides two continents twice a day and never tire of a skyline that resembles more of a forest than concrete jungle.
I live in the European district of Beşiktaş, a neighborhood of students, architects and a generation that is the last of a dying breed. A generation that gets bread delivered to their window from a hanging basket, who leaves shoes outside the door, washes sidewalks with water and a broom, and who kindly greet newcomers to the street with a nod and a smile. The street greets you too…with a slew of charming and lulling cats, as well as a milkman who is then greeted by a line of little ladies with pots in tow, buying raw milk to make yogurt. My street name is Nurtanesi, which loosely translates to “a piece of light.” That’s how I might describe my experience as teacher and resident in Istanbul of 5 years. Quaint Streets. Outdoor markets, chock full of fruits and vegetables you know and have yet to meet. In winter, there’s purple carrots, pomelos, rosehips, heads of garlic the size of your palm. In summer, baby chickpeas you peel from their stalk, sour green plums, sun-kissed apricots, and if you’re missing winter, there’s pomegranates that have been reduced to a tart, sweet syrup. Fish markets line the main thoroughfare of districts by the sea. Tea gardens line the shores and house eons of conversations. There’s always stories to tell. You’ll tell stories too. SEV will be a part of them. You’ll talk about the creative hand you have in shaping your classroom and all of the tools you’re given to help your students grow into lifelong learners. You’ll grow too. You’ll talk about little humans who are eager to learn and share their knowledge, to express themselves and their burgeoning ideas about the world. You’ll talk about the pictures they draw of you, or that look like some far-off version of you. And don’t forget that one model ocelot, carefully folded with a hundred spots, made for you because you were asked about your favorite animal. You’ll remember what we’re all supposed to be like, curious and giving. You’ll share these stories with dedicated colleagues, and they’ll listen. So will your new friends of all backgrounds, who also ventured off to the big city to find their place, or perhaps one of their many places, in the world. A special place with an old soul and a kind heart.
And going back to that Bosphorus, we all know that water takes the least resistance. And that’s what it teaches you to do. In a city with a population the size of many countries, it asks you to submit. To accept that there’s beauty and stillness in chaos. Your haven is your neighborhood. Your haven is at a school with sweet, growing minds.