We awoke on Tuesday morning and got everyone ready for their first day of school in Istanbul. Well, it wasn’t really their first day of school, but a new friend, Tijen, had invited us to attend her daughter’s school called Bridges International. The school is part of the Nobel Network of schools around the world, a private school catering to international and Turkish students. The school is only 2 years old and goes up to 6th grade at this point. Next year they will continue with the 6th graders and go to 7th grade and hopefully expand to offer all grades through university. We arrived to a warm welcome from the staff at the school as we waited to speak with the principal, Zeynep.
We were given a tour while we were waiting and ended up in the library. We were introduced to the librarian, Maxa, and one of the teachers who was from Malaysia. The conversation was wonderful as the kids talked with both adults. Maxa was so intrigued by our story that she wanted to invite us to her house for dinner next week. In the end, we were invited to dinner at four different homes and Tijen and her daughter are taking Ilise, Drew and Noah to her home outside the city this weekend while I attend the Rotary District Conference.
After the tour we were introduced the Zeynep and she was so nice. She even let us all go to the cafeteria for lunch with the staff and the other kids. After lunch she allowed us to roam the school, let the kids go to class with the 6th graders, where they gave a presentation of our travels around the world. Noah worked hard over the previous couple of days to download maps from each place we had traveled over the kids lives. There was a map of the world with stars for all the places we had traveled. Then there was a more detailed map of the US with our cross country drives, one of Africa and our trip to Uganda and Kenya, then one of Europe for our trip to the UK last spring, one of Israel for Noah’s Bar Mitzvah, then one of Australia and back to Europe for our current travels. We overlooked a map of Dubai, but will add that for future presentations.
By the end of the day the kids delivered the presentation to both the 6th grade and 5th grade classes. Even though the kids at the Bridges School were younger than Drew and Noah, they had a whole new set of friends. We left the school and took a taxi back to the subway and started our journey back to the apartment in Taksim. A day earlier Ilise had read something about a small Chinese restaurant in a neighborhood about 1 mile from our apartment so we got off at that station to go get dinner. It turns out that the restaurant no longer exists and we were left searching for a place to eat. We found a local “dive” that was highly rated on YELP! and stopped in for some dinner. Noah, Drew and I had some of the food, but Ilise didn’t find anything appetizing. We ended up stopping at a few super markets on our walk back to Taksim and Ilise ate dinner at home when we got back.
In all, this was an amazing day with lots of new friends and invitations to multiple homes next week. I believe we will end up at Maxa’s home on Wednesday and another teacher’s home on Thursday in that Asian portion of the city. Finally, the principal is going to organize a school trip for the 6th grade next week and they have invited our family to join them. This should be a special day as well. I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this trip unfolds and how we continue to build friends in Istanbul.
To a life well lived!
P.S. Having challenges uploading pictures to WordPress through the VPN, so I will add pictures at a later date when we are out of Turkey.