For almost two years I have lived and taught English in Turkey. I traveled from the north to the west to the south, taking photos of people I met, both friends and strangers. From children to students to older people, these are the faces of Turkey.
I couldn't find a teaching job in my native California, so I decided to teach overseas. First I spent six months in frozen Russia. Then I flew to Istanbul and was delighted to find sunshine, flowers, and smiling faces. After a short bus ride to Izmit, Kocaeli, I started teaching at a private language school. The students were sweet and eager to learn, and I took photos around Izmit, in places like bakeries, rug shops, and outside markets. I got a six-month contract teaching at Kocaeli University where I helped students practice speaking English. We often met outside at the cafeteria, but sometimes they would play games or tell jokes instead of doing classwork.
My students wanted a field trip to practice speaking with tourists, so we boarded the train at Izmit and rode to Istanbul where we toured the Blue Mosque, Saint Sophia's, and Topkapi Palace. We found colorful vendors selling their goods, peaceful park settings, and tired tourists resting.
In the summer, I took a trip with one of my students to Chanakkale in the west of Turkey, near the Aegean Sea. She posed inside a stone alcove of the castle.
I traveled south to Alanya where my Turkish husband looked pensive in the castle by the sea. We rode up Castle Hill to find a boy minding the loom at a traditional, road-side market. An aunt posed with her baby niece, and an old woman sold slippers at the city center.
Further west in Antalya, I taught at a private language school and then at Akdeniz (Mediterranean) University. In my free time, I explored the Old Castle section of the city, which is filled with cobblestone streets, ancient ruins, interesting shops, and tourists standing near a stormy sea.
Turkey is a land of contrasts. On one side of the street, you can see a new shopping mall. On the other, you can find an Ottoman cafe with lounging chairs, carpets, and hookahs. Some women wear turbans, and others dress in the modern way. Teaching English in Turkey was an amazing experience, and I will never forget the people I met on this journey.
Lonna Lisa Williams
You can see more travel adventures on my Blog, Facebook, Youtube, and in my books.