News Archive
State teachers travel to Turkey to enhance teaching firsthand
SDSU, 06.09.2008

Four South Dakota schoolteachers will learn firsthand about the culture of Turkey while traveling July 28 Aug. 6 on a tour sponsored by the Turkish Culture Foundation. The teachers were chosen from applicants attending a one-day workshop about Turkey organized by the South Dakota Council on World Affairs.

The four teachers include Marissa Kleinhans, Baltic High School, Baltic; Karen Thaler, Mickelson Middle School, Brookings; Gary Pederson, Patrick Henry Middle School, Sioux Falls; and Sally Rice, Edison Middle School, Sioux Falls.

They will join educators from six other affiliates of the World Affairs Councils of America from Houston, Kansas City, Moline, Raleigh, N.C., St. Louis, and Washington, DC to visit Turkey this summer.

The group will travel throughout Turkey discovering ways to incorporate their experience and knowledge into their classrooms and school curriculums.

"I believe that sharing travel experiences with my students helps them to understand that the world isn't so foreign and scary but exciting and connected," said Thaler, a 7th grade language arts teacher in Brookings who has traveled internationally before.

"If I could describe the people who are there from personal encounters, my teaching would be much more alive," said Rice, a Sioux Falls humanities and speech teacher.

"I could describe the setting from experience, letting my protgs view the area in relation to what we know and have viewed in South Dakota," she concluded.

Each of the travelers plans to view Turkish schools, historic relics and cultural traditions in light of the educator's own subject area.

Pederson, who teaches instrumental music to Sioux Falls middle school students, hopes to purchase a Turkish instrument and then engage his students in the country's musical style and sound.

"I plan to compose a piece for band based on my experiences and then have my students perform it after listening to and studying Turkish music," said Pederson.

"Literature is about exploring universal truths and shared human experience, so the knowledge gained from this trip is likely to permeate my entire curriculum in hundreds of small ways," said Kleinhans who teaches 9th through 11th grade English and AP literature at Baltic.

This is the second year the South Dakota Council on World Affairs has received funding from the Turkish Cultural Foundation to support the teachers' workshop, underwrite travel and provide for post-travel programming.

The Turkish Cultural Foundation promotes understanding of their unique culture and of its historic and vital role as a crossroads between Asia and Europe.

"These teacher exchanges have long-term effects on both sides of the interchange, from the exponential impact on South Dakota students to the residents of Turkey who interact with South Dakota teachers," said Harriet Swedlund, executive director of SDCWA.

SDCWA brings programs, information and discussion about world affairs to the state and region.

For additional information, contact Swedlund in Brookings by phone at 605/688-5416 or by e-mail at Harriet.Swedlund@sdstate.edu.

Source : SDSU