Trip to Turkey for Derry teacher to find lessons for the classroom
Union Leader, 02.08.2012
“I think the one word that can summarize my visit to Turkey is, amazing,” said Pinkerton Academy Spanish teacher Peter Schmidt, who recently returned from a teacher study tour of the country.
The two-week excursion was organized and sponsored by the Turkish Cultural Foundation in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire.
“Going in, I knew very little about Turkey; I wasn't sure what to expect,” said Schmidt, who was one of four teachers from New Hampshire taking part in the trip.
“I think the one thing that surprised me the most was simply how much I didn't know about such a unique crossroads of the world,” he said. “My eyes have been opened up to a new world. Turkey is a vibrant, colorful, clean, cosmopolitan country. They look west, while still holding onto the traditions of the east.”
To be chosen for the trip, Schmidt had to prepare and defend a proposal about what he would learn on the study tour and how he plans on incorporating it into the classroom and the community during the coming school year.
He said he is going to take what he has learned and the materials he gathered from the trip and share it with his colleagues in the social studies, art and foreign language departments. Schmidt said he will also showcase Turkey during the foreign language and social studies week at the school and has been asked to present at the state Social Studies Conference and at the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire.
“Turkey is a blend of cultures and histories; some European, some Persian, some Christian, some Muslim, all blended together into one distinctive Turkish identity,” he said. “This diverse character and charm made Turkey such a pleasure to travel, experience, and photograph.”
During his travels, Schmidt had the chance to visit many cities and historical sites.
“We also visited museums, had lectures and presentations, visited schools, met with civic groups, and dined on some of the best food in the world,” he said.
Some of the highlights of the visit included the Topkapi Palace, the capital of the Ottoman Empire and home to many generations of sultans; the Hagia Sophia, a Roman church converted into a mosque and now a museum honoring the history and traditions of both religions; and the ruins of Troy.
Schmidt also visited the World War I battlefields and cemeteries of Gallipoli, watched the Whirling Dervishes in Konya, and swam in the Aegean Sea at Kusadasi.
“Above all, I was most impressed with the city of Istanbul, the genuine friendliness of the Turkish people, and Turkish food,” he said.
The Turkish Cultural Foundation was founded by Nashua residents Yalcin and Serpil Ayasli.
The World Affairs Council of New Hampshire has sent six other teachers to Turkey since the partnership began in 2010.