IDV Özel Bilkent Middle School Awarded Grant to Expand CATH Programming in Turkey

Children Are The Hope:

An Inspirational Journey of Hope and Peace

Through Art and Collaboration

Carlos, Nil, Oya and Sandra… check out their AMAZING CATH t-shirts!! Peace and love to our Turkish heroes!

In the autumn of 2017, IDV Özel Bilkent Middle School and CATH were honored with a significant award through the Alumni Grants Program of the Embassy of the United States of America in Ankara, Turkey.  The Alumni Grant is providing important funding to support CATH program expansion to two additional schools in Ankara.  Using the CATH mission and diversity-focused partnerships as the cornerstone, all Ankara students are engaging with and connecting to not only each other, but to similar-aged students from 3 schools in Wisconsin as well.  Partner schools in Wisconsin are experiencing a synchronized, interdisciplinary, and academic year-long program including exploration of Turkish culture, visual art creation, language and environmental studies, and engagement with Turkish students through stories, music, dance, and cultural artifacts. Simultaneously, Turkish students are also discovering Wisconsin’s people and cultural and natural resources through teacher- and peer-instruction, as well as technology-based interactions with Wisconsin students, cultural artifacts, and art in its many forms.  The capstone event will be an international culture- and nature-focused visual art exchange between participating Turkish and Wisconsin students.  Through its project model, CATH aims to help the world’s young people build a sense of self-respect and worth, while becoming an engaged and sensitive member of their global community.

To this end, IDV Özel Bilkent Middle School principal, Oya Kerman, in partnership with Nil Çelik, Art Teacher; Sandra Orbay, English Teacher; and Carlos Lopez, English and Spanish Teacher, has led efforts to create an innovative day-long, student-led CATH curriculum to be implemented at the expansion schools.  To implement the program, a peer-teaching team of 11 CATH graduates from grades 5-7 at IDV Özel Bilkent Middle School (including Acar Oral, Utku Berat Şapçı, Aylin Öztürk, Nehir Erdoğan, Deniz Özkan,Yağmur Asya Şenol, Selenay Ercan, Kıvanç Önal, Lara Özdemir, Kibele Ertürk, and Tuğra Larlar) was selected.  Students were prepared by the faculty team for their esteemed leadership roles, and learned public speaking skills, CATH history and philosophy, and a deep appreciation for art as a form of global communication.

On 7 December 2017, the peer-teaching team, along with the faculty team, visited 4th grade classes at the Nihat Başakar Elementary School in Ankara to launch the new era of CATH-based collaborative education.  Significantly, they were joined by Mr. Ersin Dur, honored representative of the Embassy of the United States of America in Ankara.

Bilkent students led several activities beginning with a presentation summarizing Children Are The Hope and introducing the organization’s Director and Founder, Korie M. Klink, of Wisconsin.  Mrs. Klink, who leads the Wisconsin CATH efforts in all participating schools, wrote a letter to be shared with all students.  Through her letter, Mrs. Klink hoped to express the significance of the day’s work and that of each participating student.  She shared her deep gratitude to all Turkish and Wisconsin participants and leaders, whose work to combine art, global diversity, friendship and teamwork cultivates respect for nature and each other, while fostering the reality of peace and hope throughout the world.

Educational stations, such as origami crane folding, engaged students throughout the day.  Throughout the world, cranes are symbols of peace, hope, and friendship, thus becoming one of the faces of Children Are The Hope.  Other animals, too, are significant and meaningful in cultures around the world as such, another station featured face painting of animals representing various habitats and eco-regions of the world.  Students were also invited to create paper plate art and contribute to wall-sized canvas painting.  The success and value of the day’s activities could be measured, in part, by the smiles on the faces of the fourth grade pupils and the eagerness to continue the project.  On April 3, Nihat Başakar students will be visiting their new friends at Bilkent to continue this journey.

In addition to the educational curriculum, the Bilkent faculty team and students have spearheaded fundraising events to help purchase sports equipment, school supplies and library resources for Nihat Başakar Elementary School.  Bilkent’s CATH students designed and created decorative tiles with original artwork that were purchased by fellow students and school staff.  Funds generated from the tile sales will be used to benefit students at the new CATH partner schools, the second of which will be visited during the second semester of Bilkent’s school year. Additional, future fundraisers are already being planned.

This project exemplifies how people can unite across political and cultural divides around a common cause and experience. Children Are The Hope blends cultural, art, environmental and global education with the human experience in Wisconsin and Turkey. CATH is a conduit through which American and Turkish cultures come together as colleagues, friends, partners and collaborators to build a better world for all living things.

Congratulations to all of our student leaders, participating friends and Bilkent faculty…

you are the Hope!

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