Vivian Discusses Teaching Experiences in Turkey
Studying aboard is not just an opportunity for students. One Alma
College professor took a semester in Turkey to see what college life is
like on the other side of the world.
Robert Vivian, associate professor of English, will discuss his 2008 winter term experience in Turkey at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 in the Alma College Library. Admission is free and open to the public.
The presentation title, “100 Ways to Kiss the Ground: Living, Teaching and Writing in Turkey,” is from a poem by 13th Century Turkish poet Rumi, who also has been called the most popular poet in America.
wrote, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,”
meaning that there are many different ways to appreciate life. Vivian
says he is appreciative of Rumi’s poetry because in many ways it has
built a bridge connecting the East and the West.
Vivian traveled to Turkey after he connected with Yavuz Demir, a professor of Turkish language and literature at Ondokuz Mayis University who taught at Alma during the 2006-07 academic year. Demir was Alma’s first Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence and gave lectures on Sufism, Mawlana Julaladdin Rumi, Istanbul and many other topics.
While on sabbatical, Vivian taught literature classes on poetry and the novel and gave a weekly lecture that covered creative writing at Ondokuz Mayis University, located in Samsun, a city of more than 700,000 in northern Turkey on the southern coast of the Black Sea.
Vivian said his trip involved “a lot of firsts” both for him and the University. He was the first American to visit the University and the only Westerner at the University. He describes the people of Turkey as “warm, welcoming and very hospitable.” The students were thrilled to have a native English speaker as their professor, and their enthusiasm showed, he said.
Approximately 25,000 students attend Ondokuz Mayis University, and the learning environment is much more formal than Western universities, says Vivian One of Vivian’s students told him he could not use a backpack — as a teacher, he had to use a briefcase.
Posted: Wed, August 27th, 2008 at 5:07PM