One of the most fulfilling experiences in Turkey for me was visiting a Syrian refugee school in Istanbul. I went in expecting a small rundown school, but what I came across was an extremely well-organized school. The children all seemed excited about learning and even more excited to learn more about our group. The teachers seemed highly competent and were very enthusiastic about and supportive of the kids they were teaching.
We visited various classrooms, and each class greeted us with a lovely welcome chant in Arabic. The students inspired me with their high spirits and enthusiasm. Everyone seemed happy and excited to be at school learning about the world. The teachers there especially impressed me. Despite their situation as refugees, they seemed to be making the best of what they had. They were incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely interested in having a conversation with our group.
The administrators of the school even went so far as to provide us with a wonderful meal consisting of falafels, hummus, and bread. We didn’t ask for it, and yet they insisted on us eating all the food. What surprised me even more was the low level of funding that was being provided to the school. What was impressive was how the people there had still managed to create a top-notch school with the few resources that they had.
The visit to the Syrian refugee school was my favorite aspect of our trip to Turkey. Rather than just reading about the Syrians and their lives as refugees, I got to witness their lifestyle firsthand. The observations I made also relate to my research, much of which explores how the Syrian refugees have adapted and how the increase in Syrian refugees has changed the atmosphere in Turkey.