When you begin a Zomppa session with, “Hey everyone, let’s learn about a really cool country called Turkey!!” you get one or two giggles or maybe even an outright uproar of laughter. With these tips and some prior knowledge, you can make your session go smoothly, and allow everyone to be fully immersed in Turkish culture. Here are 4 things kids really want to know about Turkey!
#1 “So… Why is it called Turkey?”
Along with the question, “Do people in Turkey eat turkey?” kids just do not understand the name of this country. And hey, many adults don’t quite get it either. The next time a kid asks you this question, start off by saying that it doesn’t mean the animal turkey. The people from the region are called Turks, and so the country was named after the people that lived there. The land used to be referred to as Tourkia by the Greeks, which means “land of the Turks.”
As a side note, and a way to relate what they are learning to back home, ask everyone why America was named America. They might be interested to note that America was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci because he found Brazil during his ventures to the New World.
#2 “What do they eat in Turkey?”
It may be helpful to explain that just like here in America, Turkey has an excellent climate for growing all types of different crops, such as eggplants, nuts and seeds, green peppers, onions, lentils, garlic, and tomatoes. Explain that eating meals together is a major part of Turkish culture, and people rarely go out to dinner at a restaurant, but rather cook homemade meals.
If you are unfamiliar with Turkish food, remind yourself it is similar in taste and structure to other cuisines of the Mediterranean. Greek and Iranian foods are heavily influenced on each other, so if you have trouble coming up with examples, think of your nearest Greek restaurant. If you want to shock your class, teach everyone about a popular Turkish drink called Ayran, a salty yogurt drink that is considered the national beverage of Turkey.
You can use this time to discuss if any of the kids like to cook, or if they help their parents cook meals. Suggest that next time their parents are cooking, offer to help or make suggestions about healthier options, especially while out shopping.
#3 “Do they do any dances in Turkey?”
Ok, so kids may not ask this question, but finding a good segway into the topic of Whirling Dervishes is extremely important.
The Sufi dance is on the list of the world’s intangible Cultural Heritage List, and its importance to Turkish culture needs to be explained in a way that is relevant but culturally competent for children to understand.
Having a trusted video up and ready for explanation is key for this because it may be hard to fully explain this dance without a visual.
It is a form of meditation that is physically active for its participants and is a customary dance performed within a ceremony. It may also be beneficial to explain the kind of clothes members wear during this dance, as the hat, called a sikke, and long white skirt called a tennure have special meaning for the ceremony.
#4 “Do people in Turkey go to church?”
This is another question that can act as a nice segway into Turkish architecture and religion. The majority of Turks are Muslim and attend beautifully designed temples called mosques. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, or otherwise known as the Blue Mosque due it’s blue tiles that adorn its interior walls.
Try and explain to the kids what minarets are, which are long and tall towers on a building. The entire mosque is decorated with blue mosaic tiles, so having coloring pages of different mosaic patterns may be fun for the kids to try and design for themselves.
Tell the kids that people go to mosques to pray to God, and it is more similar than different than the religion they may practice at home.
Summer Intern- Alaina Poe