Teacher Study Tours 2015 – Group 2: Ankara-Istanbul

4 08 2015

•    Departure hotel for Ankara Esenboga Airport
•    Homebound flights from ESB through Istanbul

Day 12

3 08 2015

From Mevlana to Çatalhöyük

Oh, if all teachers would wander
    and teach the world with the world!
We would not suffer closed minds
    and youthful apathy
For if a teacher cannot wander
    away through the summer
How can, in every fall, she begin
    to enlighten youthful minds?
And if educators
    would not place themselves within the world,
How would our youth learn to maintain
    global and internal balance?
The dervishes who whirl, who leave their
    being to return with balance?
Melaart who trekked to the town
    under the tel?
And exposed the prehistoric life
    of Çatalhöyük.
Did the dervishes not leave home
    to study under Mevlana?
Did they not, by such sacrifice
    gain peace for many?
Did Hodder not leave Britain
    for Konya, friend?
And there he is uncovering
    The grandfather of civilization.
You lack a desire to travel?
Then journey within some books,
And as excavators collect artifacts? Read!
Out of touch? Such an endeavor
    will lead to critical knowledge
It leads to understanding
    knowledge and civility!

-Written to the form of “Oh, if a tree could wander” by Rumi
Leslie Rogers Read the rest of this entry »

Teacher Study Tours 2015 – Group 2: Cappadocia-Ankara

3 08 2015

•    Depart hotel for Ankara
•    Hacı Bektas-i Veli Museum
•    Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Turkish War of Liberation Museum
•    Lunch briefing on Turkish current affairs
•    Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
•    Briefing on U.S.-Turkey relations
•    Farewell dinner

Day 11

2 08 2015

Little squares cut into stone. Windows. Stairs. Ladders and holds chipped into the rock. Cappadocia is a wonderland, a place of “fairy houses,” that we explored today in more depth, adding only to its strangeness and curiosity. People built houses and places of worship into these caves and pinnacles dating back to 400 A.D., and were only asked to evacuate the dwellings (for fear of collapse) in 1952. I’ve often romanticized the thought of living in such a “natural” space, and Cappadocia was the chance to firsthand step into that life. Simple, yes, and with some low head clearance (I can tell you as a tall guy), but with charms unlike any other modern(ish) dwelling I’d experienced – the dramatic entry, a coolness to the rock, and a view stretching with endless mushroom pinnacles that neighbors once called home. We walked through the Open-air Museum where there Byzantine hermit monks left civilized life for a life closer to nature, closer to their god, and left painted evidence of their devotion on the cave walls. It was shocking to see how some of the paintings had been defaced through the ages – a testament to the historical conflicts spurred by religious differences. In this region of soft stone (called “tuff” from ancient volcanic eruptions), we also entered a place of refuge for those of certain faith. A great series of underground tunnels were built by certain Byzantine Christians to serve as a refuge in the case of Arab invaders. We ducked and contorted to fit though narrow passages where people fled for their lives. Airways were built to prevent asphyxiation, rolling stone discs to block entry ways, and huge corridors to ensure space for people and animals alike. To imagine a 5-month siege by an enemy and spending those months underground left us all a little claustrophobic and glad for our freedom to roam outside. In the end, Cappadocia is a strange wonderland where nature, history, and religion blend in a way unlike any other. I found it to be the most striking topography we have seen in Turkey yet, and a place I will certainly be coming back to – there is still a lot out there to explore.


Teacher Study Tours 2015 – Group 2: Cappadocia

2 08 2015

•    Depart hotel
•    Kaymakli underground city
•    Lunch
•    Goreme Open Air Museum
•    Scenic views of Uchisar, Pasabag (Monks Valley) and Pigeon Valley
•    Wrap-up meeting and presentations of lesson plan outlines at hotel
•    Dinner at hotel

Day 10

1 08 2015

Another wonderful and jam packed day.  We left the flat valley of Konya and started to see the rugged landscape change around us.  We first stopped at the Sultanhhan Caravanserai.  It was interesting to learn about the towering structure and thick walls of 800-year old rest stop, a place where the merchants could be safe from the bandits and thieves of the region.  We climbed the stairs of the mosque and looked out over the surroundings.  We also learned about the storerooms, dormitory, and stables.  It was a peaceful place that put into perspective the power of the sultan and the route of the silk trade. There was an irony in the fact that we only had to cross the street to go to a modern rest stop to refuel on Turkish coffee, tea, T-shirt’s, music, and other modern artifacts and niceties.
After many more miles of travel in our luxury tour bus, we stopped for lunch at the Bizimev Restaurant, which was carved into the mountainside.  Here we enjoyed a delicious meal of beef stew, rice, and yogurt.  Next, we walked not far to Firca Seramik, also carved into the rock undergournd, where we were given a demonstration of Turkish pottery techniques dating back over 4000 years.  It was crazy to see the potter skillfully turn a block of clay into a traditional Hittite-style wine decantaur in a matter of minutes.
We spent the rest of the afternoon touring the natural wonders of the Cappadocia region, climbing around the natural pillars of rock (aka fairy chimneys), investigating the cave dwellings, and enjoying a glass of wine from a panoramic view of the surreal landscape below us.  We ended the day with a mystical look int0 the practices of the Mevlevi order founded by the famous 13th-century poet and spiritual Sufi leader, Rumi, with a Whirling Dervishes performance.  The performance took place in the Saruhan Caravnserai.  In this beautiful medieval settting, we were awe struck by the way the dancers moved with the music in order to honor and remember God.
We ended the night with dinner at the hotel and a lively band performing for a wedding that covered the entire patio area.  We are extremely grateful to see this new and exotic snapshot of Anatolia.

David and Dana

Teacher Study Tours 2015 – Group 2: Konya – Cappadocia

1 08 2015

•    Depart hotel for Cappadocia
•    Sultanhan Caravanserai
•    Lunch
•    Whirling Dervishes ceremony at the Saruhan Caravanserai
•    Dinner at hotel

Day 9

31 07 2015

Swimming in Antiquity
Our longest day of the trip began with a 7:15 a.m. departure and a stop at the natural wonder of Pamukkale. We walked among the travertine pools of the UNESCO World Heritage site and were amazed by the massive white cliffs that look like a calcium glacier. The Romans were also impressed by the this spot, and they built the ancient spa city of Hierapolis here. After walking in the pools, we headed to the site of one of the hotels that flourished in the 1980s and 1990s but was demolished along with the others in 2003 in an attempt to preserve the pools. While the hotel was
removed, a swimming pool remains. We were shocked to see tourists swimming among the ancient ruins. A small boy rested upon an ancient pillar while others splashed around him.
After a long bus journey with ample time for siestas, as well as lectures on geography, culture, and music by Orhan, we arrived in Konya at the Mevlana Museum, the former lodge of the whirling dervishes, and the Sufi mystic and philosopher, Rumi. We were delighted that it began to rain on our journey here and that the temperature dropped some 10 degrees. Rumi and his son are entombed in this colorful shrine. Around a lovely courtyard are the small rooms that once served as the living quarters of the dervishes. They now show off musical instruments, manuscripts, and
other dervish artifacts.
Our bus ride from Konya to Çatalhöyük allowed for an informative lecture from Orhan on the economics of Turkey, including a discussion of Turkey’s minimum wage, standard of living, and economic policies. Finally, we arrived on the plains of Anatolia at the site that Orhan noted would offer big excitement for some of us. That was certainly true. Every World History text mentions Çatalhöyük, a neolithic settlement that signaled the end of nomadic life, domestication of animals, and agricultural development. We were able to tour two of the excavations and see wall paintings, graves, and cupboards of this over 9000 year old settlement. According to the introductory film in the Visitor’s Center, Çatalhöyük is a place of ³inspiration, spirituality, and pride. As we
left this extraordinary site, the drive back to Konya included a beautiful sunset and theatrical production of King Midas on video.
One day, two UNESCO World Heritage sites! On to Cappadocia.


Teacher Study Tours 2015 – Group 2: Pamukkale-Catalhoyuk-Konya

31 07 2015

•    Depart hotel for Konya
•    Lunch en route to Konya
•    Museum and Tomb of Mevlana Celaleddin RUMI
•    Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk
•    Dinner at hotel