November 27, 2019
By Verda Genel (YES 2019-20, Turkey, hosted with AFS in Camarillo, CA)
International Education Week was indescribable! I had the best opportunities, met with lots of people and taught them lots of things!
I started my presentations with a little guessing game – I showed a map without country names and asked students to point out where Turkey is located. Most of the people in my audience didn’t know. My favorite part about IEW was talking about common misconceptions about my culture. I explained politics and government, religion, and language. Also, it was so fun to teach traditional dances and have the audience follow along — especially my teachers. I was planning on asking just a few volunteers to try the dances with me; but in most of the classes where I presented, they all wanted to do the dances. Now there are almost 200 people in my school who know how to do Turkish traditional dances!
In my U.S. history class, we talked about Turkish history and I was able to give so much information about Turkey’s founder and the reforms he made. Also, after my presentations, many people asked me lots of questions and I felt that they were really engaged in the presentations and wanted to learn more about my culture. I answered lots of questions about being an exchange student and about the YES program.
I also watched a famous Turkish movie with my host family and some friends, and we cooked together with my host sister. It was an incomparable and unforgettable week and I am so glad that I was able to share my culture with so many people!