What Would Desiderius* Do?
Ebru Ezberci & Tuğçe Gürer
“You should do it,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. Well… it was that and more. Up until last year, we used to mostly ignore those e-mails regarding the Erasmus staff exchange program, thinking it was probably only just aimed for department professors. It was only when Tuğçe said “Would you like to apply to this?” that I realized that perhaps it was something to think about. So, we talked about what we had to offer and how it could go. Then we wrote up a proposal e-mail and started going through universities with relevant programs. Whereas I was mostly interested in places in Croatia, Poland and/or Slovenia, Tuğçe was more into the gems of Europe like Spain, Italy and France. We felt we might as well apply to all of them. Then one day, we got a reply from one Marisa Blanco, from Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. She sounded really excited about our potential visit and things started to become real. She wanted us to design a series of workshops and presentations. Our audience would be students studying tourism and students studying to become English teachers to kids. So, we needed to address both groups separately…hmm…
We were aiming at a before-summer kind of date, so when Marisa said the only feasible time for her was the week of Sept 17, we were first quite disappointed. Checking the calendar, we saw that it was the week after the long Bayram holiday. We could wait. Wouldn’t you? For 10 days in Spain? So, we waited. But not so idly. It was - to say the least - not a very easy process. The paperwork that goes into partaking in the program is immense. And not only that, but when was the last time wither of us had taught young learners? Well, the answer for me was, “17 years”, and for Tuğçe, “Never.” The preparations were going to take quite some time. We started searching the internet and going through all our archives to get an idea until at one point we just looked at each other and said, “DKE”. We went to her office one afternoon and it took her literally 10 seconds to come up with the idea that we could shape all our workshops around. Thank you once again Deniz Kurtoğlu Eken.
Months passed, papers were cut, colored pens were bought, gifts purchased, and September came. ¡Hola España!
A brief summary of this unforgettable trip would be: 2 days in Barcelona, 2 days in Valencia and 6 days in Madrid lugging around 25 kilos each, and countless bottles of rosé wine. Whose idea was it to take Sabancı notepads for the students again?
We don’t wish to bore you with the details of the workshops and presentations but if you would like to know more, you are welcome to ask, and/or have a look at the poster below (advertising our last workshop) that was everywhere on the campus. There’s also a helpful picture of us being cool in front of the campus:
Following the workshop, we got feedback from the students, and without exception, all of them were extremely positive. All the work and effort, sweat and tears, and the stress disappeared when we read the feedback sheets. Here are some examples:
“…I learnt a lot and can’t wait to put in practice some activities. There should be more workshops like this.”
“…the world needs more teachers like you.” (OK, this one is a little over the top, but who cares?).
“…really good tips and strategies to use in the future…”
And here are some of the lovely students:
All in all, you can come to us if you want to know more about:
•tourism in Turkey
•how to use games and fun activities in Teaching English to Young Learners
•how to navigate the Madrid metro line
•how not to get the wrong ticket from Valencia to Madrid
•where the best Desigual shops are, and
•where the most drop-dead-gorgeous waiters work (who also give you free drinks- if you’re hot of course).
Thank you for reading.
Ebru & Tuğçe
* Desiderius: The Erasmus program is named after the Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, known as an opponent of dogmatism, who lived and worked in many places in Europe to expand his knowledge and gain new insights, and who left his fortune to the University of Basel in Switzerland.