Middle school history teacher Andrea Milius loves spending her days speaking about events from the past. Last month, however, the inspiring instructor made a little history of her own after being selected as the first Harker faculty member to travel to Turkey on an impressive two-week historic and culturally-based teacher training trip.
Milius heard about “this wonderful opportunity” through a resource she had been working with for professional development called ORIAS (The Office of Resources for International and Area Studies). Sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, ORIAS provides scholarly resources and professional development for K-12 and community college educators.
Her application to be considered for the trip consisted of a series of essay questions focused on the incorporation of global education and international perspectives into her curriculum, especially with concern to the Middle East and Islam.
The unique travel program was offered through the Middle Eastern Studies Center at Ohio State University, which strives to peacefully bridge gaps dividing people along cultural, ethnic and religious lines.
Aided by a Turkish guide named Serkand, Milius and nine other lucky trip recipients (ranging from teachers, curriculum writers, librarians and even an international lawyer) gained firsthand knowledge of the Middle East, its past and current economic, social and political developments.
The goal of the trip was to enable participants to return to their work in the United States better equipped to promote teaching, learning, research and public awareness of the diverse array of Middle Eastern languages, cultures and peoples.
“The trip achieved its objectives. I feel honored to have participated, and I am so thankful that Harker supported me in this endeavor. I learned so much about Turkish daily life and culture as well as the many intricate details about the actual practice of Islam, even though this was one of my major areas of research in graduate school,” reported Milius.
“Major trip highlights were collaborating and interacting with other instructors, getting fresh and innovative teaching ideas and gaining an understanding of Turkey’s impact on current world affairs,” she added.
During the trip, she visited all of the major historical sites of Istanbul: Ankara and Konya, The Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Sulaimaniya Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the tomb of the poet Rumi at Konya and a boat tour of the Bosphorus, complete with dolphin sightings. Milius and her fellow participants also veered off the tourist path, visiting public and private schools in the country and having informative meetings with Turkey’s ministers of education and finance.
“Andrea is shy to blow her own horn, but this program was extremely competitive. Having lived in Turkey for three years, I can assure you it was a dream trip that few people could do on their own, certainly not within two weeks! It’s nice to see the amazing things our teachers are doing,” enthused middle school Spanish instructor Susan Moling, who informed Harker News Online about Milius’ incredible experience.