Prosecards from the Edge (of a Continent)

A running commentary on my life in Izmir, Turkey...and other thoughts.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Coming Up for Air

Since my new job officially began two weeks ago, the pace has been frenetic. Mornings start early, before sunrise, and some evenings it's half past ten when I finally trudge in the door. There has been an overwhelming load of meetings, information, information, information, constant emails with requests to do this or that, interruptions, communications, mis-communications, alternate bursts of enthusiasm and total panic on my part. I am exhausted already, and the students haven't even arrived -- these have been the preparation weeks.

Tomorrow morning is the first day of real school. It is then that I will meet my 26 young charges (4th graders) for the year, and finally have an idea of what I have really gotten myself into. I have been dreaming intensively about this moment the last few nights. In some dreams, the atmosphere is peaceful and productive, students cooperative and eager to learn. In others, there are tantrums and rampant misbehavior, a hail of hurled objects, and me fleeing the room in a cascade of tears. Probably this particular nightmare owes its being to the countless horror stories I have been told by teachers who attempted to succeed in the Turkish system. Even some of the best and most experienced of them fled the country after only a year, swearing 'nevermore' from between clenched teeth. On darker days, I think 'what chance do I have, then, as a relatively new teacher?' Fortunately, there are still as many days when I believe that I will not only handle it, but handle it well, and will make a profound and positive impact on these young people. I wonder what will ultimately be closer to reality -- fantasy or nightmare? Probably there will be some of each, depending on the day. May God just grant me energy, and infinite patience. More anon.