Page 1


to learn about the changes with the new schedule, see page 3. find out about the design process of the commons with an exclusive interview on page 4. to explore new cip alternatives, see page 5.

See pages 6-11 to meet the new faculty.

see page 14 to learn about poetry from lloyd schwartz and zeest hashmi.

spotlights: Ms. Oğuz is back, but what did she do while she was gone? learn on page 6. meet tanol türkoğlu, the new cto of robert college on page 7.

Ever wondered about the bell near the bridge? Learn its story on page 16.

Bosphorus Bosphorus Chronıcle Chronıcle Bosphorus Chronicle is the quarterly newspaper of Robert College

DECEMBER 2018 Issue

“Amerikacı” or “Türkiyeci”? Lara Sakarya

One of the most significant decisions that a student will make in RC is whether to study in Turkey or abroad. While this decision can be very easy to make for some people, it is not so for others. There are many variables to evaluate before choosing one side or the other, or both. There are very distinct differences between students who are studying for Turkey and abroad. Some students choose not to attend a course outside of school in order to study for Turkey’s university entrance exam, but the majority of the students are compelled to attend these courses because of the feeling of inadequacy and incompetence. Despite the fact that this seems like a simple solution, it has its own difficulties. These difficulties mainly concern the lessons, since many topics that are on the Turkish national exam are not covered in RC’s curriculum. For example, the geometry lessons at RC are only given in the ninth grade and mostly self-studied, which may not be a very effective way to learn. Since the questions in geometry can’t be solved simply by just knowing the formulas, the students need a lot of practice in order to see as many types of questions as possible. It’s important that these practices are at every grade level, considering that the ability to solve these types of problems can disappear very quickly. This is not only important for students studying for the Turkish national exam, but for everyone, since geometry is a significant lesson that

helps students gain the ability to solve real life problems. Another lesson that is considered insufficient for students studying to stay in Turkey is Turkish. Although the lesson itself is really creative and thought-provoking, there is a lack of grammar topics taught in the lessons. Students usually study for certain topics before the exams and not all the topics that will be on the Turkish national exam are included in the lessons. “Türkiyeci” students, unfortunately, struggle to learn these topics in a short amount of time due to the lack of practice. If the grammar topics were integrated into the Turkish lessons, the “Amerikacı” students could also benefit from learning these topics regarding their native language. Also, it’s common for some students to make unconscious mistakes while speaking and this can beaddressed and corrected with grammar lessons. The content of the RC courses doesn’t exactly match the “Amerikacı” students’ needs either. Many “Amerikacı” students have addressed this issue. One of the most important and widespread issues is the AP course curricula. Even though RC does offer AP courses for students who are planning to take the AP exams, many of the topics remain either totally or insufficiently uncovered. The variety and number of AP courses are also not enough for some students, which makes it hard for them to enter the exams because of the amount of required self-study. The issue which concerns the seniors specifically is the clashing dates of the common exams and early applications. I have heard from my senior friends that they couldn’t manage

Dr. Skipper’s Final Year at RC Elif Gencer

Emir Kırdan

On Monday, the Bosphorus Chronicle went to Dr. Skipper’s office to ask some questions regarding the changes made under his administration and his resignation from Robert College. Throughout the last few years, Dr. Skipper has made huge efforts to finalize and implement the RC Strategic Plan. As students, we are delighted to see the final product of this hard work done by the committed members DECEMBER 2018 Issue

of the RC community. Our interview with Dr. Skipper was not solely concentrated on the RC Strategic Planning. We also asked him many questions regarding how he is feeling about permanently leaving the campus. Also, Dr. Skipper gave an interesting insight about his life after Robert College. One of the most interesting aspects of the final product of the Strategic Plan was that it was very student-focused, as Dr. Skipper points out; learning is an action done “together” rather than its traditional definition which indicates that certain people “lead” and others follow”. Furthermore, unlike what we the student-oriented approach was something that has been in the RC spirit for many years, according to Dr. Skipper. This culture of “learning together” was already rooted in RC and

to finish their application requirements and study for the exams at the same time. Also, there is the issue of recommendation letters written by the CCO. Unfortunately, most of the time the CCO counselors don’t know the student very well since they haven’t spent a lot of time together especially compared to other course teachers. If CCO teachers could get to know the students more during the student’s years at RC, this might help with writing the recommendation letters. People also consider the approach of college counselors towards the students’ questions when choosing to study abroad. Some eleventh graders have mentioned that the counselors give very vague answers to some of the questions regarding the universities that the students would like to attend and that they don’t have very realistic approaches regarding their exam results. Although there are many difficulties facing the “Amerikacı” and “Türkiyeci” students; there are also some things which the school helps with. One of these things is that the CCO doesn’t announce the class rankings openly to everyone. This helps a lot with neutralizing the competitive environment of the school. Otherwise, these rankings could demoralize

some students and lead them to feel inferior. Despite the fact that there aren’t enough AP courses, the number of these courses has increased over the past few years, allowing the students to prepare better for the exams. Also, the content of many courses has been modified for “Amerikacı” students which makes it easier for them to balance school work and their preparations for going abroad. One thing that benefits the “Türkiyeci” students is the existence of some courses they can choose from which mainly focus on helping them to prepare for the Turkish national exam such as “Seçmeli Dil ve Anlatım”. The UP course is also beneficial since it is organized according to the students’ needs and the school’s schedule. There are pros and cons for both “Türkiyeci” and “Amerikacı” students and there are many variables that have to be carefully considered while making this decision. The advantages and disadvantages of both of these sides should be thought about carefully. While there are some things that could be improved about the school system and its effect on this decision, there are also some advantages that the school provides that are greatly appreciated.

(Photo Courtesy of Ece Acar)

(Photo Courtesy of Steven S.)

under the administration of Dr. Skipper and great efforts were taken to rearrange it. This previously established and newly formulated culture of “community” is highly valuable and special and in our opinion, we should try our best to preserve this culture.

tions and contributions among faculty and the student body.

That being said, Dr. Skipper emphasizes that the features that make Robert College unique are not limited to the beautiful setting, the campus, the view, and the history behind it all; it is also the RC community as a whole. He describes Robert College as an inspiring place where “everybody believes in fabric” and that is “aspirational.” This aspirational place and belief in fabric are bonded in the intimate relationship between the faculty and the student body. The RC Strategic Plan will continue to serve the purpose of strengthening interac-


Dr. Skipper has a B.A. in history and he has worked in many schools as a history teacher; therefore, he considered the historical significance of Istanbul before moving here. Dr. Skipper tells us that he was enthusiastic about Istanbul since it is between the East and West and has hosted many powerful ancient civilizations before and after the common era. Dr. Skipper says that he is not sure about where he is going to work after RC, even though he knows that he is looking to work from home. Furthermore, he says that he may be interested in working as a consultant for a school near his home.



Should Robert College Break Apart into Safe Spaces? Emir Kırdan

On February 14, Ben Frisch, a pre-calculus teacher in a private day school in Manhattan, started his class by giving time to students to share what was on their minds and meditate. After a short introduction to the class about the topics they were going to cover on that day, Frish straightened out his right arm to showed how to calculate the angles of depression and elevation. Then, he lowered his arm down, later raising it up. “Glancing at his arm, now fully extended and pointing slightly upward, Frisch realized something; he was inadvertently pantomiming the Nazi salute.” In order to get rid of the awkwardness created by his move, he unwittingly made a short joke: “Heil Hitler!” Probably Frisch would be expected to be the last person who could make this “short” joke. Frisch’s father was a pious Jew. Two of his great-grandmothers were tortured and killed in the largest mass murder site in human history: Auschwitz. The growing tension in the classroom seemed to dissolve after some students gasped and laughed nervously. Comprehending the over-

all reaction of the class after a minute, Frisch tried his best to explain himself by saying that these kinds of racist jokes were common in the past and they had only recently become taboo. As none of the students spoke after his explanation, it seemed like everybody understood him fully. However, Frisch didn’t know that his small joke had ignited a storm of events which would have very serious consequences. The rumors about the joke of Frisch quickly spread in the corridors of his high school like an epidemic disease. He was reported to the Director of Diversity and Inclusion by a student in his class and he was ordered to not return to school until further notification by the administration. Dozens of parents supported Frisch, saying that he is a decent member of the school community, while others were asserting “the joke” was totally unacceptable and executable. Some parents claimed that they were going to take their children out of the school if the administration didn’t take action to punish what Frisch did regardless of his intentions. Additionally, it was claimed by the students that the acceptance of this anti-semitic jokes would pave the way toward encouraging other racist and insensitive jokes in the school community.

THE BC STAFF Editors-in-Chief

Tan Gemicioğlu

Gülengül Coşkun

Açelya Kızgın


İlayda Çötelioğlu Rana Ürek

Zeynep Kamış Lara Sakarya

LAYOUT EDITORS Emre Demirsoy Tan Gemicioğlu

LAYOUT Assistants Ada Çavuşoğlu İdil Doğa Ağcagül

Banner desıgners Merve Nur Erkoç Beyza Günaydın

Publisher: Birmat Matbaacılık *** RC adına sahibi ve yazı işlerinden sorumlu müdürü: Nilhan Çetinyamaç *** Bosphorus Chronicle is published quarterly during the academic year by Robert College students. We welcome letters to the editor, feedback, and articles by students. However, we reserve the right to edit all materials for reasons of appropriateness of length. Give your submissions to the advisor or one of the editors or send it to us via e-mail. All photographs published are taken by the writer unless otherwise credited. How to contact us: By mail: Robert College, Arnavutkoy 34345 Istanbul, Turkey. By e-mail: Yerel Süreli Yayın


Elif Gencer Emir Kırdan

ADVISORS Nathan Harris Melissa Altıntaş Mia Pamuk

WRITERS Açelya Kızgın Ada Çavuşoğlu Ayça Zeynep Demirkol Ayda Çolakoğlu Ece Acar Ece Alara Özdarendeli Elif Gencer Emir Kırdan Eylül Demirözü Ezgi Polat Gülengül Coşkun İdil Doğa Ağcagül İlayda Çötelioğlu Lara Sakarya Mehmet Tatoğlu Nur Sude Topraktepe Öykü Ertay Rana Ürek Tan Gemicioğlu Zeynep Kamış

Approximately twelve days later, Frisch received notification from the school about a planned meeting with the members of the school’s administrative board. After the meeting, he was given only two options, which weren’t so different from each other: resigning or getting fired. In the end, his contract was terminated. He was harshly criticized by the community and probably lost his chance to find a new job in Manhattan. Expectedly, Frisch took legal action against the school on the grounds that he was unjustifiably terminated. The hearing took place this summer. The case of Frisch has raised concern about whether there should be “free spaces” in high school campuses. “Free spaces” is a term, which has been integrated on most college campuses, but still, has not been fully embraced by high schools. It would be really hard to say that Robert College should definitely adopt this policy since generation Z expects to be able to function in an uncensored and unedited fashion. Is providing uncensored information a part of Robert College’s primary purpose? As stated in Robert College’s mission statement, the school “seeks to develop in students the desire and ability to communicate openly, candidly and constructively, and to foster in them broad international outlook. Students are also encouraged to be lifelong learners, to develop creative and critical thinking skills, as well as to acquire knowledge vital for success in the 21st-century world.” Success in today’s world can’t be achieved without the changes in the dynamics of the classroom which have been recently designed to connect to something bigger. This connection is only possible without the concept of free spaces. The concept of free spaces has already changed; they don’t serve as a deterrent to protect individuals against discrimination anymore. They have turned into a shelter which eradicates opposing viewpoints and disrupts the course of political conversations between students. There should be a clear line between speaking freely in a way in which people who can be dis-

criminated against feel safe from actual harm and hateful rants which create fear and unease in minorities. There should always be a line. However, we shouldn’t take away the freedom to articulate opinions by only allowing those opinions that provide the comfort of being together with only like-minded people in order to draw the line. Marginalization doesn’t necessarily decrease when our community is fragmented from closing ourselves into our own ideas. After graduating, you will suddenly be exposed to an amazing and unfiltered world out there. If the school wants to teach us how to communicate openly as it states, we also need to learn how to react when faced with adversity. In this way, safe spaces are just barriers that prevent us from growing and getting ready for the real world out there. Some people believe that the non-existence of safe spaces in high school campuses just allows people to offend and harm each other. The real problem that the advocates of free spaces cannot recognize is the role of ideological safe spaces in creating intolerant students. Tolerance comes from understanding other people. People can understand what it is like to be somebody else through freedom of expression. Expressing differences in thought is the only way to understand who people really are. Ideological radicalism will possibly decrease if people are forced to accept differences and react to them both consciously and subconsciously. After the hearing this summer, Frisch stated, “I trusted while I was at Friends that because of my long-term commitment to the school, that as I need to change to meet the changing dynamics of the classroom, the school would help me learn and provide the support I needed to make those changes.” Frisch made an offensive joke, justifying the two options given by the school. His joke cannot be defined as freedom of speech considering the historical context behind it. The joke shouldn’t, however, lead to the formation of safe spaces, which will eradicate the important nature of open discussion.

(Photo Courtesy of Arta Ajeti)


december JUNE 2012 2018 Issue Issue

January 2008 Issue


#FreePads: Why Should Robert College Provide Free Pads in Bathrooms? Elif Gencer

Emir Kırdan

“Tampons and pads aren’t luxuries—they’re necessities,” Mayor Bill de Blasio, the 109th Mayor of New York City, says. New York City is planning to provide free menstrual-hygiene products in all public schools, jails, and homeless shelters after passing so-called “menstrual equity” legislation. The city council has already passed the legislation with a unanimous vote (49-0). After the implementation of the bill, it is estimated that 300,000 girls, aged between 11 and 18, and 23,000 women in shelters will

have access to free tampons and pads. New York City is ready to pay the amount of money that is necessary to provide the dispensers. $3.7 million was budgeted to place free tampon dispensers in 800 public schools, distributing an estimated 2 million tampons and 3.5 million pads. We think that Robert College also has the responsibility to provide free sanitary products in bathrooms for the sake of girls, who can experience unexpected periods at any time. Will it be financially difficult for Robert College to provide free pads and tampons in the bathrooms? The answer is “NO.” Just like toilet paper and hand soap, sanitary products for menstruation are basic needs for girls and women, therefore the budget should be arranged in a way that it addresses all of these basic necessities. As pointed out by the New York Magazine, “the city will budget for tampons and pads just like it does for toilet paper and hand soap”. Furthermore, free pads not only show young

The New Schedule Nur Sude Topraktepe

It is apparent that there are some changes in RC’s new schedule. The length of the periods and breaks are quite different from the previous years. In the past few years, the length of the classes was varied. Some of them were 90, 80 and 70 minutes depending on the days and it may create an inequality between the lessons up to 40 minutes per week. But now,

the length of the periods are either 80 or 40 minutes, depending on the class. But this has caused another issue: breaks. This year, the lessons start at 8.00, except Monday which starts at 7.50 for advising or Flag Ceremony, and there are six classes per day which are combinations of 40 and 80 minutes. The length of breaks is either 10 or 20 minutes except for lunch time which was shortened from 60 to 40 minutes. İpek Naz Öbek, who is a student in 10th grade, believes that these major changes have both good and bad impacts on the social and academic life in RC. “Before

women that their needs indeed matter but also makes it easier for them to take care of their periods.

Did you know that according to research carried out by Harris Interactive and released by Free the Tampons, an organization that supports providing feminine hygiene products for free, “79 percent of women over the age of 18 have started their period unexpectedly in public without the needed supplies?” Even though many people believe that this action is not necessary since many girls in Robert College are able to bring their own pads or tampons from home or borrow from their friends, they are neglecting the other side. We are living in a society that still considers menstruation as shameful. Even in Robert College, probably one of the most liberal high schools in Turkey, it is not easy for girls to take their pads or tampons without hiding them when they go to a bathroom. It is not easy for girls to

this year, there were four lessons for which we needed to be fully prepared each day, but now the number has increased by two more lessons. This puts us under greater pressure but also, it is sometimes good that there is not a long time, like days, between classes which helps us to learn more fluently.” Also, Sinan Namur, who is a student in 10th grade, thinks that it is really hard to sit through a class following five other in this short time. “I don’t find it realistic for a student to be present in a German lesson following a Math only after a ten-minute-break.”

borrow pads from their friends in the middle of the classroom without being seen by others. It is not easy for girls to say that they need to go to the bathroom because of their periods when their teacher asks why they want to go to the bathroom in front of their classmates. Obviously, we have no right to make girls on their periods feel worried about an unexpected physical need when they are in a particular emotional state.

If you would like to share your experiences and thoughts about the #FreePads movement in our school, please send an email to us. Also you can share your story via the link below. Keep up with #FreePads to hear more in the next issues. For further questions:

Erkan Uğuzalp, the 12th-grade counselor, explained the situation as a teacher and how it affects the 12th graders. For him, “The increased number of lessons is hard to get used to for me like everyone else. But the good part about this system is that now I can see my students not once per two weeks but every week. However, the shortened lunch times affected the individual meetings with students; the number of students that we can reach each day has decreased.” For seniors, “L12 students perceive pressure because of the increased number of lessons; they must take five elective classes which caused them to have fewer free periods. Certainly, there are people out there who think differently than this but the majority of students agree with me.” These opinions from students and teachers came to the administration’s notice. It made them create four alternative schedules which would be voted on by students and teachers and then the chosen one will be implemented later this year. Mrs. Orhon and Mrs. Iseri’s observations about the topic are “The LP, L9, and L10 lunch is too crowded and a 40-minute lunch is difficult for students and teacher--not just because of crowding but because there is little time to meet for CIP or to ask questions or just to socialize in our beautiful new RC Commons.” She said that teachers as well as students want longer lunches. But they don’t want to stay later and some people don’t want to come to school earlier. If a different schedule is implemented during this school year, it won’t change before the beginning of the 2nd quarter. Lastly, Mrs. Orhon wants to thank everyone for their feedback and their patience during the process.

(Photo Courtesy of Nur Sude Topraktepe)

december JUNE 2012 2018 Issue Issue




There is Nothing Common About the New Commons İdil Doğa Ağcagül

Ada Çavuşoğlu

Remember that place below Gould Hall that everyone thought to be inefficient, dull and uncomfortable? All of that was actually part of a bigger plan! Here is the interview with the architects of the Commons Area, Murat Şanal and Handan Akyürek, and their thoughts on the process and design. Read on to find out more about the space that many people currently adore! What was the overall process like? Which steps did you follow? Handan Akyürek: I think I would describe it as an experimental design process for myself and also for the school. We’ve been working on this for three years both as a design process and a rehearsal process; of course, this is from our point of view. I’m sure there is another perspective both for the students and the school. It’s a long-term project and it requires deep thought about the decisions, the space creation, and how the students will use those spaces. It’s not a set of ready-made decisions. It’s an evaluative process. That’s why I’d say it was an educative and a long-term process for me personally.

workshops, three concepts were created. The first one was called “Meydan” or “Osmosis,” and it represented a center with workrooms with buffer zones and offices around it. It brought the students to the center, and if they needed to, the students can access it from a multitude of entries. The second concept was an “Integrated Circuit,” which had multiple overlapping radial zones that impacted each other. This allowed us to have different interaction zones. The third concept was the “Tree” and that represented a more metaphorical concept. The tree had a trunk, roots, and branches. The roots and branches were almost symmetrical, and they represented the students’ lives when they came to the institution. The students are embedded within their root systems and branch systems. We selected the strongest one, which was the “Integrated Circuit” with some of the qualities of the other concepts like permeability and some of the heritage qualities. In the circuit concept, there were also loud or vibrant zones, semi-loud or gathering zones and quieter zones that could hold between 4 and 6 people. The third chapter was the “realization” part, and that was the rehearsal, which was last year. As Handan mentioned, it was a little bit experimental; there is no definitive descrip-

Murat Şanal: We thought that we shouldn’t start haphazardly, so we had three different chapters for the project. The first chapter was data collection. For the data collection, for example, we collected data about the usage and the needs, but we tried to stay away from solutions because everybody had ideas about how things should be fixed. However, we kept the conversation going about what RC need and tried to describe those needs. The consensus was to make a student-centered space for the Commons, or “the Union” as we used to call it; to create a non-structured learning environment, which meant a space that would be as self-managed and self-organized as possible for the student body. We planned all of our needs and learned about our constraints. We wanted a place that would belong to the students and be owned by the students, but also a place that would be managed by the student activities and offices there. A space that could enhance students’ activities in their school life.

How did you come across this project? Did the school reach out to you or have you worked with the school before? Murat Şanal: Yes, we have been working with schools for many years since our interests are in active learning spaces. We have worked with Robert College before on bathrooms and changing rooms and on the library. Our primary goal with these projects was to revitalize Gould Hall and make it the center of campus

life, both for the faculty and obviously for the students. The transformational and strategic planning had been going on for about at least eight to nine years that I know of. Starting with little things, we began to work with the school to learn about each other and to make valuable transformations. Specifically, with the renovation of the library, our vision was to bring the foot traffic and student life into Gould Hall as much as possible. We can see that it had, like the Commons Area, changed the student experience a lot. The library is one of the most valuable assets in Robert College, and it occupies two levels in Gould Hall. Our idea all along was to bring attention to Gould Hall. So we restored, renovated and also transformed the library experience. It’s not a stack of books, it’s not a storage space anymore, but rather, it is a place where students can visit on a daily basis. We know how to transform a place into a more pleasantly used space. If you look at our website (, you can see our principles which are knowledge, enthusiasm, synergy, and enjoying the spaces together. We work with institutions for long periods of time since we are concerned with process-driven spaces. Previously, we had surveyed the students, faculty and staff to learn more about each other and to make valuable transformations.

The 3 Concepts (Photo Courtesy of Handan Akyürek)

Then, the second chapter was about the concept of what we wanted to create. We, as the expert group, worked with an interest group. We included ourselves in a set of workshops, and we worked with a selected group of students and faculty. We had 3 workshops, and 2 of them were generative workshops to come up with some concepts. These were half-day workshops. While working on the concepts, we tried to stay away from spatial constraints because we wanted to have a concept that was as strong as possible. At the end of the


tion of the Commons or the Union. It’s all a grey zone, and this concept was developed in the 1990s. It is a type of space that’s almost an extension, a socialized library except without the books. It’s more like a place for working and hanging out, a meeting place and production place. It’s not a typical classroom or presentation room. So for the last part, everybody said: “Why don’t we rehearse something to see how the space is used?” We kind of monitored you last year. We preferred to make a mistake in the rehearsal period so that we wouldn’t make any big mistakes in the final Commons Area. The two zones were the same shape, but the rehearsal zone didn’t have any comfort, it didn’t have proper quality and performance, but it had the same structure. Thanks to the rehearsal period, we were able to observe how the usage was going to be.

(Photo Courtesy of Handan Akyürek)


december 2018 Issue JUNE 2012 Issue

January 2008 Issue

NEWSNEWSNEWSBOSPHORUSCHRONICLENEWS NEWS&OPINIONBOSPHORUSCHRONICLENEWS&OPINION There is Nothing Common About the New Commons (continued) Why did you choose this basement space to renovate? Murat Şanal: One of the reasons we chose this place was because this place was the infrastructure level of Gould Hall, and the place where all the infrastructures meet up across the campus. We think thresholds are the most essential things in any experience. That’s why we see people hanging out by doors and windows. Therefore, we can see the Commons Area almost like a threshold in a student’s life, literally and metaphorically. The Commons Area is the place where they meet up with other students and other teachers for limited amounts of time. What inspired you while planning? Handan Akyürek: It was Robert College’s environment, which has a fundamental and beautiful Bosphorus view and a beautiful forest. That was the main thing that inspired us. We had two linear zones to work on, the Bosphorus part and the forest part, so we looked at the color, materials and most of the design

touches that these zones have, and the materials and colors we used were chosen according to that. Also, we were planning to somehow bring the atmosphere of the forest and the Bosphorus inside. Murat Şanal: Yes, there is more to come with the landscape and some plants that we are still working on. Hopefully, we’ll have more vegetation on the outside and connect it to the hillside or the seaside, so you will always have a defined color code. What were the important aspects to consider while planning? Murat Şanal: The way things perform and work are all related. Maybe you saw the platforms on the edges of the space, those are actually outlets, and we tried to enhance them to make a connection with the landscape. Also, we have the permeable zones, without actually disturbing anybody and putting any harsh walls, we are able to put more definition into a space. Acoustics and acoustical air are also very important things to consider.

What were the exciting aspects of this project?

What can you tell us about the special classrooms in Woods?

Murat Şanal: What excites me most is actually this space; this long project took 3 and a half years. Everybody who was involved put their thoughts and hearts into it. There were committees and interest groups that had significant input to this project. When that input reflects the truth, things are done right. We, as architects, do not dream for others, we try to realize their dreams. In this project, we tried to understand the vision from that input. When we can’t get the vision completely, we use methods like surveys and rehearsal periods to understand the needs truly. Specifically, in this project, I feel very satisfied with the work done. The vision was creating a place serving multiple interests and bringing people from different generations together. Now, I see different age and user groups using this area without any titles or anything; that is what excites me. It is more of a liberated space, that everyone, from an individual to groups, can use.

Murat Şanal: In the classrooms, the comfort level is going to go up drastically, it has already gone up now with acoustics and writable surfaces. We would actually like to have lots of pin-up boards, lots of magnet boards on overhead zones to use the space efficiently. And you may have seen the 3 classrooms; those are also included in the trial (rehearsal) period. All three of them are different, and we are trying to find the most efficient one with feedback from the teaching staff and the students so that we can make moderate alterations.

ing of the project, engaging in fruitful activities with Sevgi Evi children who are difficult to work with was attainable. The experience as a whole was nothing like the normal RKANEP program in the sense that it was basically a product of our own original module — arts, drama and sports blended with various social issues concerning children and human rights.

a compelling task which contributes you a lot”, and recommended, “Be proactive, organize your own project and don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty!” The purpose of trying out individual CIPs is not only to make a positive impact on your community by taking an independent leadership position but also to be able to experience and “acknowledge what kinds of challenges volunteers/non-profit organizations face when they are coordinating a project.”

Independent CIPs - Why Not Give It a Try? Elif Gencer

Over the past years, the CIP office has made huge efforts to expand the scope of community involvement projects. Students who are new to CIPs might even feel lost among the many different options that are provided to them—RKANEPs, Lisinia, ZİÇEV, Bana Ellerini Ver, Library Projects, School Painting, Mind Games, Düşlerim Gerçekleşiyor, Middle School Tutoring, nursing homes and more… However, for students who have experienced almost every one of these CIPs like me, these options might not be enough. Since my first year at Robert College, I’ve tutored middle school kids, taught Turkish and Syrian students, attended RKANEPs during the summers where I could experience small leadership positions while teaching students arts/drama. After some time I felt like I could experience much more by taking part in a school-independent project, where I could take initiatives on my own and learn to work with other unprivileged groups. This summer, before the rush of college preparation started, I wanted to discover new settings such as an orphanage or villages at a disadvantagewhere I could participate in volunteer work in cooperation with various NGOs or individual CIPs. During the last few months of school, I started searching for orphanages and children’s homes within Turkey with three of my friends. We initiated communication with various children’s homes, which are called “Sevgi Evi”. Luckily, one Sevgi Evi located in Çanakkale was very welcoming and encouraging towards us as they approved the activity module that we specifically developed for vul-

JUNE 2012 Issue december 2018 Issue

nerable children under state care. In our module, we integrated key concepts such as nonviolent communication and gender-equality into altered versions of RKANEP games. After finalizing the arrangements of the schedule and logistics, we went to the Sevgi Evi in Çanakkale. As four students, we divided each task to four parts and discussed our progress weekly. In the end, organizing everything on our own turned out to be easier than we expected.

Before arriving at Sevgi Evi, we had no idea how things were going to work out — professionals from both the CIP office and various NGOs had informed us about the condition of the children. Some tended to be more aggressive or sensitive towards particular issues due to the traumas they experienced when they were younger; therefore we thought it was better to draw certain lines when it came to topics like family, war, death and extreme emotions. We always had to think about what we were going to say beforehand. As we later learned from the principal and counselors of the Sevgi Evi, all children had come from different backgrounds — some children had no parents, some experienced regular domestic abuse, some didn’t have enough money to cover their basic needs and the government eventually undertook the guardianship of these children. I was used to hearing such incidents usually on news channels, radio and TV broadcasts but spending a week together and developing some sort of sister-brother bond with them was an utterly different experience for me. I remember the genuine smile on their faces when I told them that their drawing was beautiful; they got so pleased every time as if it was the first time they heard a compliment from someone and felt significant, it was a priceless joy for us and them. At the end of the project, I understood that if I believed in myself, my team, and the mean-

As I previously mentioned, when it comes to travel arrangements, organizing an independent CIP is definitely not as hard as you think. For instance, we found bus tickets easily one month prior to our trip and since we were only four people from the same school, it wasn’t hard to arrange our transportation. Another Lise 11 student, Ulgen Yıldırım, further expresses her opinion that, “working with a collaborative group consisting of Robert College students has a discernable positive impact”. She told us her individual CIP experience and we learned that without the assistance of the CIP office, advisors and co-leaders from the Robert College community but only with the help of other young volunteers from the Samsun Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği (ÇYDD), her job turned out to be “way more difficult”. However, Ulgen also mentioned that “getting to organize everything on your own is

Is there anything you would like to add? Murat Şanal: In conclusion, these projects have been done over a very long and processdriven period. The school invested in them. The school took in many ideas, developed them, commented on them, and worked with us patiently to execute them. It takes time to get good results. The process needed to be slow, so that it wasn’t drained quickly.

Another reason to try out individual CIPs could be the fact that you can choose any time to carry out your individual project unlike the year long school CIPs which sometimes may not fit into your activity schedule. Another junior, Nart Karaçay, told us that even the summer CIPs he wanted to be a part of were conflicting with his summer schedule, so he chose to participate in an independent CIP project. Considering all these reasons and examples of previous attempts of RC students, I highly recommend independent / individual CIPs for anyone who believes in social impact and is ready to explore new aspects of volunteering.

(Photo Courtesy of Elif Gencer)




Music: Emel Özer Ada Çavuşoğlu

After working in many well-known schools like TED Ankara College, ENKA Schools and Şişli Terakki Schools, Ms. Emel Özer has finally come to teach music in Robert College! But she is no stranger to Robert College. In fact, she had worked here as a violin instructor between the years 2004 and 2008. After graduating in 1990, Ms. Emel Özer played in many orchestras and performed all around the world in numerous countries such as the United States, Republic of China, Russia, Austria, France, Spain and many more. “I retired from State Opera and Ballet Orchestra last year,” she says, and when Mr. Deniz Baysal called her to ask if she would like to teach in Robert College this year she was more than happy to come. She describes her teaching style as “learning together” and when she was asked why she wanted to become a teacher,

she happily gave the answer: “I decided to become a teacher for my second chance at life.” Aside from her love for music and the violin, Ms. Özer says that she also enjoys design and cinema. Even though she doesn’t advise any clubs this year, she says that she might be teaching violin or chamber music club in the upcoming school years. We are delighted to have Ms. Özer in Robert College. As the Robert College family, we sincerely wish Ms. Emel Özer a wonderful year.

(Photo Courtesy of Emel Özer)

English: Ms. Oğuz (Returning) Ece Alara Özdarendeli

As the new academic year starts, we encounter faces we remember as well as new people. This year Ms. Oğuz, one of our beloved teachers, is back to Robert College after her “gap year”. Bosphorus Chronicle interviewed her about her leaving Robert College, her decision to come back, and her plans for this year. Ms. Oğuz is an English teacher who cares about the self-awareness of her students and she wants to create an environment for her students to be themselves. After graduating from Istanbul University, she got her Master’s degree from Bilkent University on “Management on Education”. It is her seventeenth year in teaching (including her gap year) and seventh at Robert College. She taught Prep English and Business English classes during her time at Robert College. At the age of 12, she was inspired to be a teacher by Mr. Keating when she read the book “Dead Poets Society.” Ms. Oğuz adds, “ My English classes were always my favorite classes back then, so I thought, ‘I want to spend my time doing that.’ ” She was working at Özyeğin University as the assistant director of the Prep program before coming to Robert College. While working at Özyeğin University, she found out about social entrepreneurship which was the idea that the university was founded upon. Later on, she realized that teaching at the university level was too late and that the students should already have these skills before they start studying at university. She thought, “What if we taught change-making skills and social entrepreneurship at the high-school level?” Hüsnü Özyeğin, RC’63 and founder of Özyeğin University, had talked about Robert College frequently in his speeches and she asked herself, “How about


sending an email to the headmaster and seeing if they are interested in having an English teacher?” When she first started working at Robert College, she perceived the school as a place where you can be yourself and explore your passions as well as be somewhere in which you believe in what you do. She used to have a yoga club with Mr. Downs, but she is not the advisor this year as she is “busy following other passion projects.” Being a part of students’ journeys, meeting with a new class every year excites her even though she gets worried from time to time about the competitiveness in the school. That’s the reason why she sees her personal mission as introducing learning as an opportunity for students to discover who they are and to create an environment for them to express what they found out about this journey. She believes such an environment would make the students focus more on cooperation rather than competitiveness since students would already have enough excitement in their lives. Even though she left Robert College, she continued working with the Social Entrepreneurship Club (SEC). She started the club with Deniz Cengiz, RC’17, back in 2013, and she witnessed the school giving birth to a social entrepreneurship club. “It wasn’t easy for me to take that out of my life,” Ms. Oğuz says. She adds that continuing to work with SEC is not the only reason she decided to come back, but it was a great opportunity for her to connect with the young people of Robert College even though she didn’t teach here anymore. “What I missed the most last year was my students and continuing working with the club gave me a taste of connecting with my students when I wasn’t teaching.” Social innovation is a passion for her and she continues to work on that idea. She is very interested in mindfulness, and she practices it at a personal level while also using


English: Ana Shaw

come to Turkey.

Tan Gemicioğlu

Hailing from New Zealand, Miss Shaw is joining Robert College’s English Department this year. While she is coming from afar and new to Robert College, she’s actually been in Istanbul for a long time. She taught at ENKA Schools for 5 years and at the Koç School for 4 years. Miss Shaw also comes from a family of teachers; she’s currently one of four teachers in the family. Initially, hvowever, she “rebelled” and wanted to be an art gallery curator or a writer. Inspired by a program she took part in, she later changed her mind and decided to become a teacher. At university, she studied English & History of Art for her Bachelor’s degree and did her Honors, a type of postgraduate degree in the New Zealand education system, in English. She went into teaching after that and completed her Master’s degree part time. In New Zealand, everyone is expected to live abroad at some point in their lives, and this is called the Overseas Experience (often referred to as the OE). For her OE, Miss Shaw went to the UK and said that she really enjoyed it but couldn’t continue because the UK was too expensive. Her mother knew someone who worked in Turkey, and encouraged her to work in Turkey as well. After applying for jobs in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Turkey, she received two offers in Turkey, and decided to

Asked why she came to Robert College after working at ENKA and Koç Schools, she saıd that she felt like she needed a new dynamic. Every new curriculum also offers a new shift, and she wants to keep challenging herself. Additionally, she currently lives right next to the school, in Arnavutköy. So far, she’s really enjoyed the campus atmosphere. For her teaching style, she said that her goals is to encourage her students to read and learn. Currently, she is teaching LP and L10 English courses. She enjoys various areas of art from literature to music and she also enjoys teaching Film. We’re excited to have Miss Shaw join the Robert College community and wish her an excellent year.

(Photo Courtesy of RC Mini Course)

Ms. Oguz with her colleagues at the Writing Center (Photo Courtesy of Aybike Oğuz) it in her classes. When she was asked why she left Robert College last year and came back after one year, she said that she wanted to take a year off and reassess her life, dedicating her time to “selfdiscovery.” In her gap year, she tried to do everything that she wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t have enough time for. She took courses on how to become a yoga teacher, researched non-violent communication, and even co-authored a book on social entrepreneurship which has always been her passion. This year, she asked herself, “What if I had a magic wand and had all the resources and could do anything and everything, what kind of a learning environment would I create for the RC community?” This is the question that

she has in her mind when she thinks about what she can bring to Robert College. Hearing her students saying that she created opportunities for them to be who they are, and that she helped them become the person they are today would make her truly happy, and she would be proud of herself if she can achieve that, she says. “Anything that I do in my classroom or out of the classroom or in my club is towards achieving that,” she adds. She calls herself a realistic person and someone who enjoys life. She asks the questions she needs to ask herself, and if she is not happy with the answers, she takes action. “Basically, my philosophy is: You’re in it because you like it, and if you don’t like it, you need to do something about it.”

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January 2008 Issue


IT: Tanol Türkoğlu Nur Sude Topraktepe

Tanol Türkoğlu is one of the newest members of the Robert College community in the role of Chief Technology Officer. He was born in Istanbul in 1967 and lived most of his life in this city. He graduated from the Middle East Technical University after completing his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. Before Robert College, he worked for three years as an IT employee, specifically in computer support, software development, etc. Later, he was promoted to managerial roles and he soon “discovered that managing people, processes and projects are better for [him].” He has worked as the COO or IT director of several banks for almost thirty years.

working style is primarily about coaching a team rather than managing it. He encourages his teammates to express themselves openly, reveal their thoughts, take responsibilities, feel accountable and be creative.

Tanol Türkoğlu is interested in collecting signed books, writing, listening to music, photography, and playing “Go”. His favorite films and series include “Apocalypse Now”, “Blade Runner”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Yol”, “Issız Adam”, “Babam ve Oğlum”, “Lost”, “Casa de Papel”, and “Black Mirror.” His favorite books are “The Neverending Story” by Michael Ende and all works of J.L.Borges and Enis Batur. As far as music goes, he likes to listen to New Age, Electronic (eg. Deuter, Vangelis, Kitaro, Tangerine Dream) and many more.

He was familiar with Robert College before he was employed here as his daughter is a Robert College graduate. “I knew from the first moment that I can add something to RC”, he said while he was explaining the time that he received the offer. His first impression of Robert College was that it was “first class, has a rich heritage, uses tech well, and has smart students” and he also thinks that “[RC] students are not only smart but also apply critical thinking in practice.”

not hesitate to live consciously with each one them. When you leave, you will miss them for sure! If you have an idea that would make the technological life at Robert College better, please share it with me. My room is just across the Faculty Lounge in Mitchell Hall. I hope you have a great year!”

Finally, he has a message for the Robert College family: “This school is full of beauties from the campus to the students, from heritage to technology. While you’re here, please, do

In addition to his professional career, he has been a weekly columnist on digital culture, the information society, the internet, and social media in the magazine “Herkese Bilim Teknoloji” for twenty years. He has published five books and the sixth one will be published next month. The books are about digital culture and the information society. Mr. Türkoğlu has given university lectures and courses such as “Digital Culture”, “Information Society”, “Digital Marketing”, “e-Commerce” and “Management Information Systems”. Since January, he has been giving monthly conferences on Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Prof. Dr. Cem Say from Bogazici University’s Computer Engineering Depratment. Mr. Türkoğlu’s

History: Hamit Karakaya Açelya Kızgın

After graduating from Middle East Technical University, Mr. Karakaya completed his master’s degree at Bilkent University. His first teaching experience took place in Koç High School which lasted for nine years. “This is

my eleventh year as a teacher,” he says and describes his career path to be “unexpected” as his plan was to become an academic after completing his doctor’s degree. Although he wanted to study at a university in the USA, he missed the application deadline. “I got accepted to Nottingham and Manchester in the UK but they didn’t have any financial aid opportunities,” he says so he couldn’t go to either of them. What changed his whole future plan

(Photo Courtesy of Hamit Karakaya)

december JUNE 2012 2018 Issue Issue

(Photo Courtesy of Tanol Türkoğlu)

was a phone call from Bilkent University about secondary education and a teaching programme. As he was interested in its opportunities such as an internship, he decided to accept the offer, leading to his ongoing teaching career. He’s also a confirmed IB Examiner and a workshop leader. Mr. Karakaya mentions that he finds history engaging and almost tempting: “There’s an undeniable resemblance between love and history,” he describes, “you endeavor to reach it but you can never completely accomplish it.” Therefore, he enjoys teaching history and seeing that students are also interested in the lessons. For him, history is not about memorizing dates or significant figures, “they’re just tools that are used to give the big messages.” His aim is to teach students how to analyze causeeffect relationships within historical events, working as a bridge between the past and the present. He thinks that “students should have some fundamental abilities regardless their age, developing a critical view is significant.” Additionally, he says students should work on these abilities by reading and questioning: The book he recommends to all of his students is İlber Ortaylı’s “Discovering the Ottomans.” In addition to that, his favorite books are “What’s History” by E. H. Carr and “Between Two Worlds” by Cemal Kafadar.


He has always been interested in both politics and history, seeing them as interconnected areas. He was an EYP advisor for eight years in his previous school. “I like to see that students are interested in current political issues and are taking part in such organizations,” he says. Therefore, it’s not a surprise that he’s doing something similar in Robert College in his advisory position with MUN. Except for politics, his number-one hobby is football and he’s a strong supporter of Fenerbahçe. He also loves traveling: the Ukraine, Portugal and the USA are his memorable destinations. When talking about his favorites, he says that Istanbul is his favorite city in the world. He finds the campus a magical place to enjoy Istanbul with its view and he feels pretty lucky that there are many cats around as his favorite animal is cat. Along with the campus, he describes his experience at Robert College so far to be pleasing: “There were things that I had heard about RC before coming, such as academic excellence and its long-established structure,” he says. He finds all of them to be true based on his first weeks in the school and is looking forward to learning more about the school over time.

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Library: Aslı Akyürek İdil Doğa Ağcagül

Aslı Akyürek graduated from Bilkent University, with Archaeology and History of Art majors and experienced different fields like education, publishing, hotel management and corporate communications for 15 years. “This land is a real treasure and I am enthusiastic to discover the ancient sites as an amateur archaeologist,” she states, about her major on Archeology and Art History. Since Ms. Akyürek’s mother worked at Robert College as a librarian, she has been familiar with the community and the environment of the school since she was a nine-year-old girl. “The presence of young adults and the books are the source of my motivation,” she says. She also mentions that “it was thrilling to wait and hear that [her] application was verified, it made [her] really happy.”

Ms. Akyürek has a small art studio in her house where she likes to spend her free time. She is also interested in cooking, inspired by nostalgic recipes and unique cuisine cultures to create her own. She also follows documentaries and journals on psychology, literature, biology, and neuroscience. She mentions that anything about Freud, Van Gogh and Fidel Castro never fails to attract her interest. Also, she likes to spend time with poetry and play with language. Her favorite author, the one that comes first to her mind, is Irvin Yalom, and her favorite book is “Gabo and Fidel” by Angel Esteban and Stephanie Panichelli. Following days in school, she is planning to develop a health concern oriented awareness project, and she is looking forward to participating in CIP projects. She is excited to be working here and would love to talk with the students on these topics anytime. (Photo Courtesy of Aslı Akyürek)

Physics: Michael Feeney Ezgi Polat

Dr. Michael Feeney is a 39-year-old physics teacher. Though he was mostly raised in the United Kingdom, he actually comes from an Irish family. While working on his Phd, he found doing research, experimenting and publishing papers rather boring and realized that he actually loved teaching. After working in England for six years, he decided to teach abroad. He worked in China for a year and then decided to come to Robert College. Dr. Feeney absolutely loves his job but if he weren’t a teacher, he says he would want to be a “drill sergeant.” A drill sergeant is an officer who trains soldiers in military parade exercises. In Dr. Feeney’s words: “Practically speaking, he is the guy who stands in the front and screams at soldiers.” He says the reason behind this is that “it would appeal to my sense of how things should be.” So get ready to line up and salute! In the classroom, Dr. Feeney likes to be both funny and authoritarian at the same time. He says, “Physics is fun with a dose of sarcasm and absolute tyrannical belief in my own authority.” If you have Dr. Feeney as your teacher, you will also be mastering “Sarcasm 101” along with physics. There was a time when his sense of humor got Dr. Feeney in trouble. About two years ago, while he was working at a school in England, he told his 11-year-old students to call him either “Sir”, “Doctor Feeney” or “Lord Feeney” as he usually does in his classrooms. When one of the kids asked him if they were supposed to


call him Lord Feeney when they saw him in the corridor, he told them that they only needed to salute him and move out of his way when they see him in the corridors. Because Dr. Feeney’s words were said in a sarcastic manner, the kids didn’t quite understand that he was actually joking. So one day, while he was passing through the corridor, all of his students moved to the sides of the corridor and started saluting him. Coincidentally, the headmaster was standing right in the middle of the saluting students and Dr. Feeney.

big time reader, saying, “Read ‘Good Omens’ by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett if you want to truly understand the British sense of humor.” This might be good advice to help us get to know our new physics teacher as well!

“The first thing that went through my head was “Am I going to get in trouble for this?” which was quickly followed by “Yes, I am going to get in trouble for this.” But of course this was nudged aside by, “The headmaster is going to realize that the kids aren’t looking at him and they aren’t saluting him. They are looking past him, down the corridor, at me!”. And I thought, “He was going to turn around. Then, he turned around! So I had two plans of action: One, run away, which would be quite undignified or two, the option I went for, pretend that this is all completely normal. So I just went striding down the corridor, saluting these kids as I went saying, Carry on, go to the next lesson!, and as I passed the headmaster, said Good afternoon, sir, and just walked straight past him before he could say a single word. He did call me to his office and say that it was funny--but maybe the parents wouldn’t find it quite as funny as I did. Perhaps I could find something a little less militant in terms of a demonstration of respect. That was funny. It wasn’t so funny at the time but now it’s funny.” Fun fact: Dr. Feeney is a self-described “King of The Nerds”. He likes anything that is Sci-Fi: Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. He also loves playing video games and is in charge of the Electronics Club in our school. He is also a


(Photo Courtesy of Michael Feeney)

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January 2008 Issue


Religion: Erol Şahin Eylül Demirözü

Mr Şahin is one of our new religion teachers this year. He’s been teaching for 28 years in various schools, both in middle-school and highschool level. He likes to be active as he says his deepest fear “is being stationary and not being able to be free.” He was teaching kids skiing in the past, and also did a lot of swimming, running and wrestling when he was young. He expresses that he likes to travel in his free time to see new places and learn about new cultures both in Turkey and around the world.

He points out that the “Religion and Ethics” class is not only designed to teach about the religions and rituals, but also universal and core ethical values that every person should know to build better relationships with other people. He also states that he is concerned with the way religion is manipulated and used as a source to get political, economic or social power. The solution he proposes to this problem is investigating, exploring and relying on the pieces of evidence instead of things that other people say. Mr. Şahin recommends all of us to do some research before coming up with our own thoughts about religion.

He says that community involvement projects were a huge part of his life. In fact, he once did a joint project with Robert College when he was teaching at another school. During that experience, he was very impressed by how responsible the RC students were and it was one of the things he was looking forward to when he first started teaching here.

Math: Shaun Ha

(Photo Courtesy of Erol Şahin)

Öykü Ertay

One of the new teachers who joined our community this year is Shaun Ha from Utah. Ms. Ha was born in the United States, but her father is from Vietnam. She is the oldest child in her family; she has a sister and a brother. She went to school in Southern Utah and worked in Northern Utah for nine years. At first, she thought that she was interested in business and started to work as an assistant executive at a car dealership. Later, she realized that she didn’t want to work in the business sector and decided to go to college to become a math teacher. It’s thanks to her own high school math teacher that she fell in love with the subject. Ms. Ha was not thinking of moving to Turkey. With the help of an international university recruitment program, she sent her CV to various schools around the world. After sending her CV to Robert College, she was contacted for an interview. Ms. Akas, the department head of mathematics, and later on Ms. Orhon interviewed her. Ms. Ha was informed about the result of her interview and she chose to come to Robert College to work as a teacher. She says, “I chose Robert College before I chose Turkey.” Outside of her academic life, she loves watching movies and TV shows such as “Brooklyn 99”. She is also into pop culture and reads a lot. She also said she really enjoyed playing XBox before she became busy with teaching. Right now, in Istanbul, she states that she is keen on

december 2018 Issue

(Photo Courtesy of Shaun Ha) going to museums in her free time. Ms. Ha thinks that living on campus doesn’t really feel like living in Turkey because it is like “a little bubble,” where she can speak English with her colleagues. She finds it useful to live on campus, but she said that she faces challenges when she goes outside. The biggest challenge she is currently facing is Turkish. When she first arrived, she had difficulties communicating with Turkish people. However, she is very interested in exploring all the dif-

ferences between Turkish and English, even the descriptions of mathematical concepts and punctuation in these languages. There are other things which were different for Ms. Ha. She believes that the toilets in Turkey are unusual. She didn’t use to eat soup that much before coming to Turkey. Yet she thinks that the Robert College community has been helping her adapt to Turkey with their suggestions, and her life in Istanbul has been interesting so far. She expressed that she has found the students


at Robert College caring and appreciative and she is impressed by the way the community is. She says that the only suggestion she could have for us is, “Keep on!”



Turkish: Aysun Barut Bilgili Eylül Demirözü

This year, the only newcomer teacher in the Turkish Department is Aysun Bilgili who is from Bursa. She has worked in Ted College and Hisar Schools, teaching both middle school and high school students. Becoming a Turkish teacher was her childhood dream since she loved reading books and “idolized” her Turkish teachers. When asked about the atmosphere of the school and her feelings about being here so far, she states that she has already gotten accustomed to the school spirit. Doing her internship at Robert College helped her to get used to the sense of the community. Recently, she immersed herself in new technological education and digital literacy, also serving as the advisor of the new club called “Digital

Storytelling”. She is really enthusiastic about her new club, dedicating a lot of time to it and enjoying every spent minute. She doesn’t have a specific favourite book or a movie but she has a hobby which turned into her long-term passion: paper marbling. She thinks that paper marbling fits her personality because it requires tranquillity and patience. When talking about the usage of the Turkish language, she tells that it’s not unexpected for a Robert College student to use English and other foreign languages in their daily conversations. However, she suggests that it can be minimized and students can be more careful about their usage of Turkish. At the end of the interview, she concludes her thoughts with lines from poet Rıfat Ilgaz, reminding us that beautiful things need protection, “Our language is so beautiful, / But beauty also needs care.”

Math: Marsha Copeland

(Photo Courtesy of Aysun Barut Bilgili)

Ezgi Polat

Marsha Copeland is our new mathematics teacher from Florida.When she tells her students that she is 62, it shocks her students since she looks significantly younger than her actual age. She says she doesn’t act 62 either and adds, “I act like a silly girl still”, which is adorable. Ms. Copeland wanted to be a teacher ever since she was in high school. She got married in college and two years later, she had her first child at a very young age. She had to make some money and thus went into finance. After managing loan and finance companies for forty years, she had another baby and decided that her working hours were too much. She went back to school to get her degree and started her dream job: teaching. Now, she really enjoys what she does and says that she wouldn’t want to go back to finance. “It’s just about making someone else some money. I feel like I want there to be a purpose in my job. When I’m teaching, I feel there is a purpose.” Before she came to RC, Ms. Copeland was teaching in a high school in her home state, Florida. She taught there for nine years until she decided it was time for a change. Growing up, Ms. Copeland says she had to move a lot because of her father’s job in the army. She went to twelve different schools in twelve years. Therefore, she still likes change and enjoys traveling to different places. Now, her three grown daughters come to visit her as she lives here, in Istanbul, with her husband. Ms. Copeland’s teaching style is pretty old fashioned. She highlights the importance of answering “any question that anybody asks” in the classroom and tries to create a comfortable environment for her students.


(Photo Courtesy of Marsha Copeland) In addition, Ms. Copeland scuba dives and takes part in our school’s scuba diving club. She says, “I like to go down and play with the big fish. The big sharks and the eels and things.” She also reads, cooks and sews. Although Ms. Copeland can be strict at times, at heart she is a nurturing teacher. One particular story of hers proves just that. Once, a student of hers had ordered a dress for her quinceanera (a Hispanic tradition to celebrate a young girl’s coming of age on her fifteenth birthday), but when she got it, it was four sizes too big and her family couldn’t afford to get it tailored. So Ms. Copeland took all the measurements, took the dress apart and put it back together to fit it perfectly to the student. “You know, you take


care of your kids” she says remembering the past, “When they are my students they become my babies--they are my kids.”

(Photo Courtesy of Marsha Copeland)

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January 2008 Issue


Religion: Hatice Altıntaş Ada Çavuşoğlu

Until she graduated, Ms. Hatice Altıntaş didn’t think she would become a teacher. Her aim was to write books similar to Umberto Eco’s, which bring theology and philosophy together. So, after studying theology in Marmara University, she decided to concentrate on philosophy. She completed her master’s degree in philosophy at Istanbul University. While she was studying for her doctorate at Galatasaray University, she decided that she wanted to improve her English. Upon this decision, she went to England and got a part-time job in a huge hotel, which she described as a “colorful environment similar to a small village.” She found it difficult to leave this interesting place with more than 700 people in it, with many award ceremonies taking place and various movie stars frequently staying there;

therefore, she worked there for three years. While in England, she came across a Turkish music group called “Nihavent” that performed Turkish classical music. With the group, she experienced her first on-stage singing performance in a chapel at Oxford University, while introducing Turkish classical music to English people. Having literature as her biggest hobby, Ms. Altıntaş took a creative writing course at Birkbeck University. The hotel inspired her to start writing her first book. As she is currently working on her doctoral thesis, the book is not complete yet but she hinted that it is slowly coming together.

Ms. Pamuk is from both California, United States, and the Faroe Islands, 18 islands located in the North Atlantic with a population of approximately 50.000. Her father is American and her mother is Faroese. Her father was working for the military in the 1960s, monitoring Soviet submarines at an American satellite base in the Faroe Islands. That is how he met and married Ms. Pamuk’s mother.

She says that she decided to come to Robert College “because she hoped to teach intelligent students.” Her teaching style consists of open and mutual discussions, including active participation from students and a philosophical approach to religion and ethics. So far, she thinks that her students are brilliant. She thinks it’s a big advantage and privilege to have students who make her realize that “intelligence and personality are directly proportional.”

After returning to Turkey, she started to perform with a group called “Tümata”, which was a group focused on music therapy. During that time, she was introduced to Farima Berenji, an Iranian-American dance ethnologist who did research on ancient, sacred, and folkloric dances which she wanted to bring back to life. For many years, Ms. Altıntaş received dance les-

English: Mia Pamuk Öykü Ertay

sons from her. By learning various dances like sema and silk road dance from Farima Berenji, Ms. Altıntaş discovered that dancing was once used as a form of therapy.

for three years. Then, she married a Turkish man and moved to Los Angeles with her husband. Although they loved being in LA, they realized that they missed Turkey and returned to Istanbul after five years. She said that she was lucky that Robert College was looking for a new teacher when she decided to return to Istanbul. Thus, she ended up teaching here. Aside from reading, she says that she really enjoys watching movies and TV shows, especially science-fiction, horror, action and crime shows. She says that she also likes cooking and

(Photo Courtesy of Hatice Altıntaş)

traveling. She has traveled to over 20 countries. Additionally, she loves snowboarding, which is why she is looking forward to going to Uludağ in winter. One of her favorite things of all time is Halloween and all the associated attractions, such as haunted houses and Halloweenthemed amusement parks like Halloween Horror nights at Six Flags and Universal Studios. Ms. Pamuk lives in Moda, Kadıköy, which is one of her favorite places in the world. Ms. Pamuk and her husband are expecting their first child, a son, who is due to arrive in March.

Ms. Pamuk is bilingual. She speaks English and Faroese natively. She can also speak Danish, Turkish and Japanese, albeit not fluently. Ms. Pamuk majored in English literature and creative writing. While she was in college, she worked as a librarian. After graduating, she realized that working as a librarian was “too quiet for her.” She quit to start tutoring and really enjoyed it. Later, she heard of a program conducted by the Ministry of Education in Japan. This program gave her the opportunity to teach English in public schools in Japan for three years. She said the program was very prestigious and she “learned how to be a teacher” in Japan by teaching English to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. After working in Japan, she went back to California and got her teaching credentials and Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics/TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). After teaching middle school, high school, and university in the US for 8 years, she says she noticed she missed the experience of being overseas, so started looking at schools outside the United States. After attending a conference in San Francisco, California in 2009, she thought that being a teacher in Istanbul could be an “interesting opportunity.” She moved to Istanbul and worked at Koç School

december 2018 Issue

Ms. Pamuk with R2D2 (Photo Courtesy of Murat Pamuk)




Both a Student and a Teacher: Ezgi Emel İlayda Çötelioğlu

Ezgi Emel is our new philosophy and psychology teacher. She decided to study philosophy when she was a high schooler at Robert College. “Philosophy was a way for me to relieve my teenage angst”, she says. She fell in love with philosophy when she first read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. After Robert College, she went to the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom to study philosophy. Her family were not supportive of her decision, but they did not restrict her. “But this was definitely not their first choice.” When she went to study philosophy, she believed that she could do many different things. “It was a little ignorant bravery,” she said. While she was studying, she realized that there is a difference between the academic and everyday philosophy. She always wondered how she can create a bridge between society and academics. In her senior year, by pure coincidence, she got a job offer at a school to teach kids about philosophy and started to facilitate philosophy discussions with students in Istanbul. “Kids don’t have polished mindsets and they are really open to everything. That is why the way they perceive things is really conducive for philosophizing.” She gave presentations at international conferences about philosophy and kids. She was one of the first to do this kind of work in Turkey. Since she was first, she became a professional and started giving workshops to willing philosophy teachers who were interested in the same kind of profession. When she was doing this study she needed to come up with a curriculum for kids because there wasn’t one

in Turkish. She looked for stories to tell to kids to make learning philosophy fun for them.That is when she started writing stories for kids and decided to publish her own book, “Piyon Poi’nin Okyanus Macerası”.

While she was working with kids she got a job offer from a high school and decided to see what it will be like to give regular philosophy lessons. While she was working there, she heard that there was a job opening here at Robert College. “Then I started working here and I really like to be a part of my school again. I still continue with my writing adventure.” She is soon going to publish a four-book series about philosophy for kids. She was also a student here in Robert College so it is really interesting to talk with her about being a student and a teacher here. “I still didn’t realize that I am an authority figure in the classroom. I still look at my clothes when I see Ms. Halıcıoğlu.” Her age is close to her students so she still feels like she a student here sometimes. She is open to learning new things, therefore she thinks it is also really fun to have intellectual conversations with really clever students. “Of course when you are in the kitchen for this job you see the different sides as well.” She tries to teach every topic in a way that the students can apply it to their daily lives and connect it with real life. “How can I catch his attention? My main focus is to make that student find the topics interesting.” When she came back to Turkey, she actually went to a second college, Bilgi University. She reviewed the lessons that she took there and also took some online courses to prepare for this year. “This is my first year as a Psychology teacher. It is also a new experience: both teaching and learning. I didn’t think I like Psychology but

“Three Letters from Sarajevo” Rana Ürek

As far as I can remember, every year at some point, Goran Bregovic comes to Istanbul to give a concert. This year, the 15th of September was the date when he and The Wedding & Funeral Band played portions of their album “Three Letters from Sarajevo” mixed with some of their earlier works. Entering the Cemil Topuzlu Open-Air Theatre -knowing the restless personality of Bregovic, the shared melodies with Balkan songs and the cultural tendency of responding to familiar sounds with physical movements like clapping- I thought the audience would not be able to sit still. What I wasn’t expecting was people to completely leave their seats to dance on the staircases of the theatre. The eccentric Bregovic who usually dresses in all white for his concerts whereas his accompanying orchestra is mostly dressed in black, can be a tribute to the name Wedding & Funeral Band, is mostly known for two occasions. One


of them is due to his role in “Bijelo Dugme,” a Yugoslavian rock band that has been active in the 70’s and 80’s whose name translates to the phonetically similar “Beyaz Düğme”. Otherwise, he is known for the soundtracks of three films in particular from the same director, Emir Kusturica: “Underground,”“Arizona Dream” and “Time of the Gypsies.”

Bregovic and Kustorica’s collaboration in those films is reflective of their shared Balkan heritage, which especially shows its effect in “Underground,” an absurd film where a weapon manufacturer in Belgrad makes the workers living under the ground believe that the II. World War is not over. This story is the origin of one of the popular songs “Kalashnikov,” which the band also played that night whereby Bregovic interacted with the audience by translating or appropriating some parts of the lyrics to phrases in Turkish. Other songs from those soundtracks such as “Ederlezi” from the “Time of the Gypsies” and “In the Death Car” from “Arizona Dream” were included in the repertoire. “Ederlezi” is a good example of one of “Bijelo Dugme” songs with the original name “Djurdjevdan” that have


now I do.”

Since, Philosophy is a different and really hard major to study, it was interesting to learn about people’s perceptions about philosophy in Turkey and abroad. “Studying philosophy is the last way out before going crazy. You need to think really deeply about a lot of topics and sometimes this makes the lines between the reality and daily life a little blurry. I started using the parts of my brain that I didn’t know I could use”, she says. Unfortunately in our country it doesn’t earn the respect that it deserves. When she was in UK, philosophy students were the ones everyone respects, she explains. People think that when you study philosophy there is nothing that you can’t do; in Turkey, it is exactly the opposite. People who are studying philosophy don’t want to study, it is more of an obligation because it is the major accepting with the least grade in Social Sciences. Also the job opportunities are almost non-existent. When she has some free time she likes to listen hip-hop. She likes music a lot but specifically rap and reggae. “ I have a dog named Tricky and it is named after a rapper. I like hip-hop as a culture and I liked it when it was not this popular.” We finish the interview and when you

step outside the office, you find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do? I wouldn’t spend all of it, I would invest most of it. I don’t really have an expensive taste. I would go to a holiday to Mexico because we couldn’t go to honeymoon. What were you like in high school? When I was in high school I had a rebellious mindset. I had doubts about many things. I was not this cheerful. I was a sociable person but at the same time I didn’t want to seem nerdy. I didn’t like really nerdy people. Describe the color blue to somebody who is blind. Think about something really cold like fridge. When you first open the door of the fridge that cold weather that you feel. When you go to the see the chill that you get in there. Can you explain why we are dreaming to a five year old? Think you mind as a film, it is playing constantly. Some parts of this film are cut and then you see them in a mixed way when you sleep. Even though they are complex, there are all a part of your life.

(Photo Courtesy of Milliyet)

been adapted later on to fit those soundtracks. Both “Ederlezi” and “In the Death Car” are examples of the few rather slow songs from the band. “In the Death Car” and the quietness needed to perform it, is particularly special for Bregovic since he always requests the audience not to clap during that song. That night, he humorously added: “Why are you clapping? This song is about a maniac with a car.”

album published in 2017, hadn’t yet made their way through everyone’s head, yet people were quite responsive to the newly introduced beats; they clapped and danced equally with excitement. The album composed of three different pieces for violin and orchestra, that refer to the three religions co-existing in Sarajevo, possibly in line with its purpose, brought people together, at least for a few hours.

The songs from the album “The Letters from Sarajevo,” also achieved a similar reaction compared with the much older songs from the mentioned soundtracks. The songs from that

Goran Bregovic and The Wedding & Funeral Band (Photo Courtesy of

december 2018 Issue

January 2008 Issue


Depression in RC Ece Acar

This article was written after some conversations with L11 and L12 students. No one knows exactly what causes depression, but one thing is certain: it is a complex illness with many contributing factors. Despite many misconceptions, depression is a real disease, a mental illness that now more people than ever suffer from, and it shouldn’t be confused with sadness, which is a normal human emotion. Depression comes in many forms and shapes. It affects people’s thinking, emotions, perceptions and behaviors in pervasive and chronic ways.Robert College students come across a variety of stressors in their daily lives that may lead to depression or worsen it. Deadlines: Everything has multiple deadlines and this is one of the main things that causes stress in students’ lives. To complete one assignment, a student usually has to complete many little assignments before it. This creates stress because, when one deadline is met, another’s countdown starts. It feels like a never ending marathon with no time to rest and recover. One thing always comes after the other. Also, it doesn’t give a sense of accomplishment. Although the student spends a lot of time and effort on it, they can’t take the assignment down from their to-do list because the “doing” never ends. Nothing ever feels like it’s fully done. And when it is actually done, the question, “Was it really worth it?” remains. Was it worth it to not sleep and work on the assignment, or was it not enough? Could more be done? This doubting can easily lead to one of two things: not doing the assignments altogether the next time or working on them more, even if it emotionally and physically drains the person. Self-doubt also makes things take more time than they would normally take. People lose a lot of time and still feel like they failed to meet requirements. If someone failed to meet the deadline of an assignment, whether it was something that would be graded or not, the person would feel inadequate because it is something that is frowned upon.

Competition and Feeling Inadequate: It’s almost inevitable for a student to feel as if they are “not enough” at some point at Robert College. Finals, midterm exams and projects, anything that is being graded stresses people. Even writing an email can be hard since finding the correct words to use for the perfect email can take time and sometimes the reply would just be a “yes” with lowercase letters and no signature. Everything has to be perfect or it shouldn’t exist. Because almost everything is being graded, if a student is constantly getting grades that are below average when they are actually doing the best they can, they starts to feel inadequate. The existence of competition in Robert College is something that no one can deny and it harms almost everyone. Time: Everything takes time and effort, it’s very unlikely for a student to go to sleep before thinking about the things that they would have to do the next day, even more so now because of the short breaks. They have to plan their day, sometimes their week, because there is no room for any mistakes and even the tiniest inconvenience would feel like a much bigger problem than it actually is. Even planning can be seen as a waste of time. As this thinking progresses, the student starts to feel like everything they do is a waste of time; reading a book, spending time with family, eating a meal, taking a shower, talking to friends etc. They are pressured into prioritizing everything and acting accordingly. Time is never enough and this leads to compromises. The student often has to choose between studying for a quiz, writing a lab report or getting a good night’s sleep. If they choose to study for the quiz, they might get a good grade, sure, but if they don’t, then they would think that they made the wrong choice, that they should’ve chosen to write the lab report instead because they were the only person that didn’t write it and got a zero. The next day, they choose to write the lab report but they don’t sleep at all, and because of being both mentally and physically tired, they doesn’t get a good grade on their quiz. There is no way of knowing the consequences of these compromises. Sometimes they turn out to be good, but usually compromising is something that a person would want to use as a last resort. Some people do have better time management skills than others, a few people who don’t have to compromise, but there is an exception to every rule.

Sickness: It has come to a point that students are scared of being sick because being sick means that they have two options: they can either not go to school, rest at home so that they can be somewhat better the next day, but also they would have to risk missing some lessons and falling behind in class; or they can go to school, be tired all day, spread the disease to their friends and maybe get even worse the next day, but feel as if they did what they had to do which leads to a sense of accomplishment. Everything is a choice and sometimes these choices can stack up and make the person doubt themselves. Did they make the right choice? Could it have been better the other way? Will it ever be enough? This thinking and doubting processes are perceived as other things that waste the person’s time and usually make the person feel inadequate and lost. Unfortunately there is a “no tolerance policy”, in which everyone expects the students to “just get over it”. No one is allowed to be sad or angry for more than a minute and not only because of school related things, but also things that have nothing to do with the school. It is hard not to be stressed and on the edge when being sick is more of an inconvenience than something that is actually bad for your health. Lack of sleep contributes to people getting sick more often. Exams: At this point, everything seems like an exam. A quiz, a lab report, every graded assignment, no matter how many there are, somehow affects the GPA. After the Prep year, students feel like fish out of water in ninth grade. What students get from the exams in ninth grade usually play the biggest role on their GPA, and it might affect whether they would get into the university they want to or not. This is a pretty stressful thing to think about, because ninth grade is not easy to adapt to and when you finally get used to it, it might be too late.

exam, but they also need to focus on their dershane work and solving tests which creates a problem. The answer that many people get when they complain about the lack of time, the compromises they had to make, and how the competition makes them feel is: “This is Robert College, get used to it.” This is another thing that emotionally drains people, not being understood. What people have to get through is already bad, and they are being told that this will stay as it is and that it is what’s supposed to happen. Depression is not something that can simply be rid of in a matter of seconds; it can take weeks, months, years even. Unfortunately, on a normal day, it’s not uncommon to see people crying in the corridors or in the toilet cabins, and the number usually increases during exam weeks and days before project deadlines. Some people even throw up before and/or after taking an exam because of the excessive amount of stress. What makes this whole thing worse is that it is the new normal. Some of these things unfortunately cannot be changed, but there is always something that can be done: to listen and understand others as well as yourself. These are some great words to live by: “You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always.” Life is hard, but it is hard for everyone else, and anything a person does to make it just a little easier for them can have a great deal of impact on someone’s life.

Another thing that creates pressure and stress about exams is the time they are being held. People who are planning on studying abroad (Amerikacı) are complaining, because the common exam week is right before the Early Action application deadline. There are too many things to do and of course, not enough time. People who will study in Turkey (Türkiyeci) are almost equally upset, because they feel like they have to study for the exams because their GPA affects their ranking in the university

Enjoying the issue? If you’re interested in writing for the next issue of the Bosphorus Chronicle, send an email to and you might see your article published!

december 2018 Issue




On Poetry with Lloyd Schwartz and Zeest Hashmi Ayşe Zeynep Kamış

On October 17th, Pulitzer prize winner Lloyd Schwartz, Clifford Endres, Mel Kenne and Shadab Zeest Hashmi visited Robert College as a part of the “Türk-Amerikan Şiir Günleri” event held in Yeditepe University, Boğaziçi University and here at Robert College. The mastermind behind this organization was Efe Duyan, an architect and a poet; and the event started with his valuable words, explaining the power of poetry and how it is able to build a bridge of friendship and cooperation - and how this specific event would work to enhance TurkishAmerican relations. The visiting poets read a few of their poems and answered questions regarding both poetry and their own work. Hearing poets read their own words is an extremely valuable experience, revealing the musicality of the poems and their intended reading. Lloyd Schwartz is an English professor at the University of Massachusetts-Boston and also a critic of classical music. His style differs from Hashmi’s style greatly, favoring simple language, almost as if he was having an everyday conversation. But this simplicity is also one of the things that make him stand out; what he’s writing appears even more shocking or impactful when delivered with a style that isn’t different from how we interact in our daily lives. He isn’t doing this deliberately to create such an effect he grew up and fell in love with lyrical poetry, but felt he couldn’t write in “such beautiful language”. His writing may

have such impact because it is deeply connected with his suffering, which he claims as a major motivation to write.Hashmi was next, and it was truly a traditional poetry experience. Efe Uyan’s words on Hashmi were that she “works her roots with a contemporary viewpoint”. Hashmi writes “kaside”s and “gazel”s, which have originated from Eastern cultures - which resonates with her Pakistani roots. Her first poem, ‘’Ghazal of the Superstitious Darling’’ was full of imagery. She said her vivid images come froma notebook she keeps in which she records impressions and dreams . Q&A with Lloyd Schwartz and Zeest Hashmi Do you plan your writing? ZH: I do schedule my writing time because I’m a mother and I have my own duties... I’d like to write in the morning, so I’d like to write as early in the morning as possible. My best writing is done very very early in the morning. I do like to get at least two hours of writing - often times it’s not all writing, it’s notes and revision, but once I start a project and it’s going well I can spend hours and hours to finish it. Do you have a certain writing schedule? LS: I don’t. I absolutely don’t. I am a terrible model for my students because I want them to be writing all the time. For me, I do two kinds of writing. I’m also a critic, I write reviews, so my reviews are always on a deadline. My poems, I don’t have time to write. I love writing poetry more than I love writing anything else, I just don’t have time. So, at some point, if it’s really a poem, it will take over my life and it will say, ‘’You have to write. You have to write now, and push everything aside’’ but I have no pattern for that. But I think when I write a poem,

Event organizer Efe Duyan (Photo Courtesy of www.iwabogdani. org)


I really have to write that poem, and then I work on it, and I work on it until it’s either finished or I have to give up. Do you care more about the structure and the ‘’beauty’’ or what it means?

LS: I care very much about the form of the poem, whatever the form is. It might be a traditional poem like a sestina but it could also be free verse. I need to see a kind of shape, it can’t just be all over the place. I know some of my students write that kind of poem and I have to say, ‘’No, but think about what the space means’’ Is it a breath? Is it a pause? Is it just a frame for a thought? It could be anything, but it’s extremely important to think about what a poem looks like on a page. Of course if it’s a traditional poem, you already know, but if it’s free verse, part of the freedom is discovering what the form is. There’s a famous misquotation from Robert Frost, it said that he said ‘’Free verse is like playing tennis without a net’’, and he didn’t exactly say that; but when anyone says that to me about free verse, my answer is ‘’Free verse is like playing tennis in which you have to make your own net’’. There has to be some kind of resistance so that the words come back to you in a new way. You can’t just sit there and scribble and then that’s your poem. Is editing a long process for you? ZH: Many times it is longer than writing. If it takes me an hour to write a poem it can take me up to 40 hours to edit it. Sometimes a poem doesn’t need that much editing but there are times when I’ve taken years to polish a poem and make it ready. Still, it’s hard to say. Because it is art, it can’t be correct or incorrect, it is so subjective; but I think it’s good to have

Lloyd Schwartz (Photo Courtesy of


high standards and good to be a very stern editor of your work. If you look at your work super critically I think it will take a long time for it to be ready. How do you know if a poem is ready? ZH: I think it’s good to have a couple of close friends who’ll give you good feedback. Sometimes you’re not the best judge of your work and it’s good to have writers whose opinions you can trust, but in the end you really have to make your own decisions. But sometimes they can lead you in the right direction. So you have to choose your friends carefully, who’ll have a deep understanding with where you want to go with it, but also give you really good feedback; something that can actually help you improve, but not discourage you. Do you think the fact that you feel like you have to write is about feeling like you have to finish a thought or is it more about you having to express yourself and that’s the only way? LS: It’s more the second. Sometimes I don’t know what my thought is until I finish writing the poem and writing the poem is an act of discovery. I have to write it down in order to figure out what it’s about. Sometimes I know in advance, the poem about my mother (Name here), I really knew where that was going to go but not every poem is like that. Sometimes it’s a big surprise to discover where it went.

Zeest Hashmi (Photo Courtesy of

december 2018 Issue

January 2008 Issue


Article of a Madman: Genco Erkal’s 50th Year in Theatre Açelya Kızgın

Regardless of one’s interest in theatre, it’s an undeniable fact that Genco Erkal (RC’57) is one of the most significant symbols of Turkey’s art scene. On the 5th of October, Robert College had a chance to host him for his performance of “Diary of a Madman.” Based on Gogol’s famous short story, the play focuses on the life of a civil servant, Poprishchin, who gradually falls into insanity by his lack of status and his confusion at the changing world. Beginning at a slower pace, Erkal connects with the audience with increasing intensity, drawing them into the tragedy of a man who lives in a dream world and even imagines himself as the King of Spain. In addition to its story which is a blend of a gut-busting comedy and a harrowing tragedy, “Diary of a Madman” first performed in the 1960s, was the first solo-theater show in Turkey. Erkal, one of the most prominent actors in the country, described his journey, beginning as a student at Robert College, to the stages all around the world. When talking about his school years, Erkal says that he feels lucky to have had the chance to be a Robert College student. Working with many esteemed teachers broadened his horizons in various areas such as literature, music and theatre. “This school showed me what I wanted to do in my life,” he says: The plays performed as the Theatre Club, included various kinds such as but not limited to Shakespearean and modern ones. He still remembers how busy those days were since they would stage at least four plays every year. In his senior year, Erkal be-

came the president of the Theatre Club and arranged an Anatolian tour for the club that took place between Istanbul and Izmir: “I had no time for any of my classes, I devoted most of my time to the theater: decors, costumes and staging.” Along with the theatre, he also wrote for the literary magazines of the school. Those days are still memorable for him since the students were working as if they were professionals and although the workload was very heavy, they never complained about it. Comparing today’s Robert College to the old one, Erkal says that there are considerable differences: “I’ve learned that the lessons- especially physics, chemistry, mathematics- are so intense that students cannot find time to do anything else.” He sees the current education system to be unnecessarily difficult unlike in his time, causing students to give up on their non-academic interests.

After graduating from Robert College, his father asked him what he wants to study in the university. “Without any hesitation, I said that I want to be a thespian,” he says. However, as his father didn’t support the idea, he decided to choose psychology for his undergraduate degree. Although he didn’t show any objections towards his father about his university plans, he never gave up on theatre. His father expected theatre to be his son’s hobby rather than his job but Erkal didn’t change any of his dreams. “If a person really wants to do something, he’ll find a way to do it anyway,” he says, believing that it’s about the passion rather than the diploma. Also, his knowledge of psychology was “unexpectedly” helpful for his career as it taught him how to get into complicated characters like Poprishchin. In 1965, one of his friends brought Erkal a

How to Istanbul in Winter? Zeynep Demirkol

Since it is getting cold and summer has officially come to an end with no one left in the shores of Bodrum and Çeşme, it is finally the Istanbul season! How long has it been since you have been to Yerebatan Sarnıcı or Maiden’s Tower? Since everybody is stuck in Istanbul during the winter, we actually have time to be tourists here rather than going far away to become one. Here is the native tourist’s guide to Istanbul in Winter 2018-2019. Some places everyone knows of, some places everyone has been to as a third grader but never again, and some places that are temporarily there or some things to do for us to actually be able to say “I’m from Istanbul.” Sit, read, work or chat on the benches between Beşiktaş Motor and Beşiktaş Ferry ports. There are nearly a dozen of benches in the area where you can sit and enjoy, even meet the people who sit on the same bench. Wear your warm clothes and take your book, simit or whatever you want with you.

december 2018 Issue

Visit a chocolate shop in Beşiktaş when you get cold. When you get cold and had enough socializing with seagulls, there are many chocolate shops in Beşiktaş and Akaretler area that you can have a hot chocolate in and the prices vary between 9-11 lira. They also have great desserts. Walk through the İstiklal Street and listen to songs about Istanbul. After your nice dessert break, take the bus or the minibus to Taksim. Taksim always seems to be crowded but as you get closer to Galata and Şişhane it gets less crowded (and better). There you can find little bookstores, more dessert places and cute little coffee shops. There are very good playlists on Spotify that consist of songs that are about Istanbul. Listening to them contributes to the feeling of what others have felt being in those places. Find a concert in “Borusan Müzik Evi”. There are a lot of concerts at Borusan Müzik Evi in various genres of music. It is also on the Istiklal Caddesi near the Russian Consulate.

(Photo Courtesy of Ege Turan) script when he was returning to Turkey from what I want to do by my art,” he said back then, abroad: “Diary of a Madman.” Unsurprisingly, without being aware of what was waiting for Erkal was the first person he thought about him in the future. for this solo performance. “I fell in love with “I want to die on the stage,” he points out, as the text the moment I read it,” he says, “but an 80-year-old thespian. In the 1960s, he beI had some concerns about creating such a came one of the significant figures who startbreakthrough in our country.” Although there ed the political theatre tradition. He describes were many people around him who tried to art to be “revolutionary” as its main purpose discourage him about this performance, he is to break down societal taboos. He was extook the risk of bringing this brand-new con- posed to various kinds of pressures on his art cept to the stage. Right now, Erkal’s “Diary of throughout different time periods: “My plays a Madman” has achieved a cult following in its were banned, my tours were banned, censor53rd year. Additionally, he has been perform- ship was heavily applied.” However, Erkal being various plays such as “Göçmenleeeer” in lieves that if an artist has a word to say, there which he criticizes the socio-political order of will always be a way, maybe more roundabout, today’s world through the eyes of immigrants to say it. The difficulties were never a deterrent and “Yaşamaya Dair” which is a musical show for him so he advises the same to all teenagabout Nazım Hikmet, who is a significant fig- ers: “You should do what you believe in. Othure for him. The first time he learned about erwise, all those years will be a waste for you.” Nazım Hikmet was in one of his morning class- Lastly, he says that it’s not enough for one to es in which they would read newspapers. “His just think about himself. “You should think works were banned in those days,” and reading about other people, even the ones you don’t his poems after the ban was lifted helped Erkal get to see. Otherwise one cannot reach to the to define what he wanted to do in life. “This is real happiness in life.”

Eat a slice of pineapple on stick at Galata.

Take someone younger to somewhere to keep this Istanbul cycle going.

As you descend from Şişhane to Galata, you will start to see shops selling pineapple slices on sticks. Be careful though! You will first see the shops that sell them for 1.5 TL and the ones that are closest to the tower are sold for 1 TL!

Everyone remembers what it means for an older cousin, brother, sister to take you out to the movies, an amusement park or a restaurant. If we keep this cycle going, we can not only be ‘’Istanbulite’’s but we can also pass it to the next generations of Istanbul.

Re-do a historical peninsula tour as if you are a foreign tourist. It is certain that everybody has done a historical peninsula tour at least once in their life, but they were probably not aware of where they had been and do not really remember where they have been to at all. Go to Yerebatan Sarnıcı, Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia, eat Sultanahmet köftes and visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museum; but this time with a new perspective. You wouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit those places if you went far far away to see them.

It is sometimes depressing to be in a monotonous cycle in a city but if it’s a city like Istanbul, people have a lot to see and discover. Take a coat, a walk, a look and a break.

Visit Pierre Loti Tepesi. There is a great view from Pierre Loti especially at nights and there is a pretty restaurant there in which you can have a meal.


How to Istanbul in winter? (Photo Courtesy of Nesrin Demirkol)


Bosphorus Chronıcle

Robert College Heritage Investigations: a Bell, a Bookseller and a Revolution. Mehmet Tatoğlu

The Robert College Bridge, rising over the cars that whiz beneath is flanked by the security building, which itself is flanked by a peculiar Robert College artifact: a large bronze bell, hanging sublimely still from the hangings. A closer inspection allows us to read the embossed phrases “Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.”, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Justice”, “Presented to Robert College BY Mr. & Mrs. Richard S. Barnes OF NEW YORK, U.S.A., JULY 18, 1909.” These faint prints are the clues to unravel the mystery of how our school bell came to be. What follows is the story of two warring bell companies, a revolution with a four-fold slogan, a 593-page stock book containing a total of 9867 bells, a bookseller who lives in New York but works in Chicago and a 529 pound bell in the middle of it all. The earliest clue as to the bell’s origins lies in the date it was presented and the slogan that marks it. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Justice” proclaims the bell, a slogan that would be familiar to many thanks to its popularization during the French Revolution. Another look would allow one to realize that Justice seems out of place in the slogan, which is popularly written as “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. The reason behind this addition lies in two essential Turkish events well known to most of the student body thanks to the high school entrance exam; the Second Constitutional Revolution and the 30th of March Incident.

Dr. Nader Sohrabi remarks in“Revolution and Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire and Iran” that the addition of Justice to the original French trio was made by Turkish revolutionaries who wanted to emphasize the fact that they were aiming to create a society based on that ideal too. The fact that the bell was commissioned on July 18, 1909, just months after the 30th of March Incident, which was an aim to execute an ultimately unsuccessful counterrevolution, is further proof that the bell was made in order to commemorate the success of the Second Constitutional Revolution. This by itself makes the Robert College Bell crucial for Turkish history as it is one of the last remaining memorials that commemorate this important event. An infinitely more famous analog is the Abide-i Hürriyet in Şişli. The second clue was the bellmaker, the “Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.”. There were actually two Meneely Bell companies: the first one being “Meneely & company, bell-founders, West Troy, N.Y.” and the other one being “Meneely

Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.”. This second company was founded by a disgruntled sibling yet, in the end, it outlived the original. The two companies were infamously competitive towards each order. Luckily enough, “Meneely Bell Co., Troy, N.Y.” kept a gigantic ledger of every single bell that they made, which has been turned into an Excel file by the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway Museum. It has 9867 entries. Entries 9223 and 9224 on page 543 clearly state that these were deliveries intended for ROBERT COLLEGE, CONSTANTINOPLE. One of the bells was delivered on Sept 1, 1909, and weights 529 Pounds while the other one dates from May 11, 1911, and weighs 302 pounds. A deduction from the date JULY 18, 1909 imprinted on our bell means that Bell no. 9223 is the bell that hangs before the security booth today. All this information means that the security booth bell was ordered on July 18, 1909 and was delivered to Robert College in September 1th 1909, for the occasion of the Second Constitutional Revolution. That brings us

(Photo Courtesy of Mehmet Tatoğlu)

to the last part of this Heritage Investigation, the elusive Mr. Richard S. Barnes. Richard S. Barnes is a common name in the US but few resources turn up when he is searched with that name, mostly thanks to the initiliazed name “S.”. However, a Mr. Richard Storrs Barnes is the man most likely to have commissioned the bell. A bookseller by trade, he was one of the five sons of the famous American Publisher, A.S. Barnes, according to his eulogy in The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer Almanac”. Also according to the Almanac, he ran the family business in Chicago even though he lived in New York, which explains his confusing public records. He left behind two children and his wife Miss Hattie Day Barbour. This means that “Mr. and Mrs. Richard S. Barnes” are Richard Storrs Barnes and Hattie Day Barnes nee Barbour. The “Sixty Fifth Annual Report Of The American Board Of Commissioners For Foreign Missions, Presented At The Meeting Held At Salem, Massachusetts, October 1871” under the heading “Honorary Members of the Board” lists a certain Richard Storrs Barnes of New York. Yet, the greatest proof of his involvement lies in a small sentence in a book written by a former Robert College Headmaster George Washburn. In “Fifty years in Constantinople and recollections of Robert College” Washburn writes that after Christopher Rhinelander Robert’s death he had to deal with five trustees in order to keep the school afloat, some of whom he had never actually met. Then he mentions their names. Fourth on that list is A.S. Barnes himself, the father of the one and only Richard Strauss Barnes.

[The Venerable Robert College Bell.]​RobertCollegeHeritageInvestigationsaBellABooksellerandaRevolution​.mehmettatoglu[Meh met Tatoğlu]

How Many Chewing Gums Does It Take to Buy Something?

Zeynep Demirkol

Economic fluctuations in the Turkish lira have led people to create individual solutions for the problem, some people even tried to find a solution to the whole trade war with their own methods such as encouraging everyone to sell their kidneys in order to cover Turkey’s external debts. Speaking of individual problems and solutions, it is a known fact that the Turkish people consider the price of chewing gum as an economic indicator and sometimes in bakkals it is even given as change when they don’t have any coins left . Not so long ago, single pieces of gum were 10 kuruş and now one piece is often 25 kuruş and, unfortunately, the days it was given as change are over. This has led some people to make the decision to not chew gum anymore. However, some people


still want to chew many things: potatoes, onions, university fees... And they may also want to keep both their kidneys, which raises the question “how?”. This summer, people who had nothing to do with the economy became ‘’experts’’ on the exchange rate and everyone had one tab always open on their phones for the “Turkish lira to US Dollar” Google search. This affected their web histories as well as some of their more important choices.

(Photo Courtesy of Nesrin Demirkol)


There are short and long term effects of the loss of value of the Turkish Lira on Robert College students’ lives. According to the College Counselling Office, in 2017, 47 percent of the graduates went to study abroad and 21 percent of the whole class had financial aid assistance; whereas in 2018, 60 percent of students went abroad and 16 percent of the class had financial aid for colleges abroad. However, this year, 54 percent of the RC’19 class is working with the CCO for now, which is very different from what people were expecting. Even though not all of them will end up studying abroad, the decline is not as significant as the decline of the value of Turkish Lira. To put things in perspective, in October 2017, you could buy 13.16 chewing gums with 1 dollar; whereas now you can buy 23.96 of them. At this point, there are two solutions; one seems to be a more longterm solution and one is more likely to show its effects immediately: Turkey’s economic difficulties may cause people to choose to live

abroad for an easier future; but in the short term, it is a fact that it’s getting very hard to find the money for 23.96 chewing gums worth of universities’ tuition. As canteen prices are also affected by this problem, the money we spend on food is also rising. It is getting more and more expensive to dine out and people are more likely to just drink a coffee when they go out with friends . Eating outside can be sacrificed, but what about grocery shopping? Chewing gums given in the place of change disappeared since everyone needs every single piece of change they can get during these times. However, the actual question is: How many times do we need to get chewing gums as change to buy one for ourselves abroad?

December 2018 Issue

Bosphorus Chronicle 2018 December  
Bosphorus Chronicle 2018 December