Inside the beehive
On a fairly sunny day in late September, I stepped into a basement in the heart of Fatih, where I felt like an elephant in a beehive. Dozens of women were busy sewing fabrics that I couldn’t distinguish clearly, while other people where hanging out by the kitchen, a cook was working on tabbouleh and a Turkish voice was asking kids to repeat after her.
The laughs, the chats, the dull hammering of the sewing machines and the hurling of the teapot on the stove wrapped all around me and left me motionless.
“Would you like some tea?,” a man named Ahmed, whom I would soon get to know and deeply care for, was strolling across the Olive Tree Community Center with a tray full of tiny çay glasses. I happily took one and entered a room with the sign “Kids Area. Please put shoes in the pink baskets.” scribbled on the door frame.
This is how began my first of countless sessions of Childcare activities at the center. Everyday, a group of volunteers – some foreign, some Turkish – dedicate their time to take care of the youngsters who attend our childcare program whilst their mothers create handicrafts and learn new language skills at our center.
Hop that fence !
Even after my nine years of experience in childcare, each day’s little challenges continue to surprise. What I thought would be a language “barrier” is actually a small fence over which we can easily hop. Turkish, Arabic and English are mixed up to form our own language, where pointing to this or that remains a key element.
The trickiest part is that their ages are so varied. We have a few infants, some toddlers as well as four, five and six year olds. We have to be flexible and offer activities that suit all of these ages.
At these ages, kids usually go to preschool where they learn to handle scissors, glue, crayons and paint. They reach their learning and assimilating peaks around the ages of four or five, so it is up to us to constantly solicit their creativity and help them improve dexterity. With time and patience, we as a team see little changes that signal improvements in behavior, cooperating in groups, and other motor and interpersonal skills.
After my own learning and adjustment to this buzzing hive, I’m happy and proud to be one of the bees now!
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