News Archive
Park Hill teacher is going to Turkey
The Kansas City Star, 02.06.2009

Jennifer Baysinger should have some pretty good pictures to share with her classes next fall.

Baysinger, a social studies teacher at Park Hill High School, is one of six area educators who will be making a study trip to Turkey this summer.

They'll travel in three groups, the first arriving in Turkey on June 29, according to the Turkish Cultural Foundation.

The International Relations Council was looking for educators who teach the humanities, have credibility in their community and are able to share what they learn.

"In short, we were looking for educators who effectively impact the lives of others," said Maggie McCoy, the council's director of school programs. "Students, colleagues and other members of the community will walk away from presentations given by these teachers with a new and lasting understanding of the role that the country of Turkey has played and continues to play in history."

Baysinger, who leaves in July, says she's particularly interested in the "head-scarf" issue.

"The current ruling in Turkey dictates that women cannot wear head coverings in any government or educational building," she said by e-mail. "This rule was among many that were meant to keep the government secular, yet it has recently come under fire due to many top officials' wives not being able to attend government ceremonies due to their practice of covering their heads.

"It is fascinating to me how something as small as a piece of fabric can stir debates about secularism, Islamic fundamentalism, women's rights and personal liberties."

She's also looking forward to experiencing Turkish culture, including the food, ceremonies and art. And she wants to see Cappadocia.

"The area was covered by volcanic ash thousands of years ago and the rock formations created were carved out by the Byzantines for shelter from attacking armies," she said.

The other teachers going to Turkey: Lisa Kucera, Hickman Mills district; Philippe Vinaimont, Kansas City district; Lora Buatte, Lee's Summit district; and Nathan Cushenbery-Andrews and Julie Kircher, Kansas City, Kan., district.