The first day of orientation was exhausting. After waking up 4 times in the night from serious jet-lag.We had a full day of orientation laid out for us. Can I just say that Fulbright has the most unique combination of highly interesting and well-traveled people I have ever met. Every single person has something to offer and I love getting to know them. By far the coolest people of any program I have attended, generally speaking of course.
Our lectures today were extensive, beginning with the Turkish Education System, we learned about the primary, secondary and university systems of education in Turkey. Cool differences from American schools? Like us, there are public and private (or foundation) schools. But they test like mad crazy. From middle school to high school is a big one, as is the university entrance exam- and is almost the sole factor for getting into college. Flunked your SAT's? You'd be s.o.l. because 1.4 million Turkish students compete for 900,000 spots. But there are vocational schools for religious studies in high school- kids who want to became imams. There is also a "practical arts school" for girls, to learn skills like sewing, etc. This is not popular but in the eastern parts of Turkey a reality for poor background or from ultra-conservative parents who want their daughters to learn practical skills.
Unlike America though, there is compulsory religious education in Turkey. This actually only happened after the military coup d'etat in 1982 and now students in Turkey have to take religious class on Islam and pass it. This has become a huge problem for the non-Muslim minority in Turkey who obviously don't want to have to sit and pass exams in a religion that is not their own. But the re-introduction of religion back into the social and political spheres was a huge deal for Turkey, and continues to be a hot topic in the academic world as well as among the citizens.
Ah and guess what Turkey has now? They are starting No Child Left Behind! All I can say is good luck Turkey.
Random aside: I'm currently reading Katie Couric's new book The Best Advice I Ever Got. If you're a person inspired by stories, I highly recommend it. Dylan Nuquist told me to pick it up, and I was hooked on the plane. Great inspirational stuff for recent college grads. Gives some serious insight into the what to do next question. More later, tis past my bedtime.
iyi geceler friends! [good night! in Turkish]