Middle East
Teacher's Guide

March 18, 2000 Update
Remember, the "Kids' Versions" are aimed at K-6.

Check out this date's update
The team generated the following reports: Try the following activities:

Abeja - What's for dinner?!
Kids' version available

Abeja explores basic Turkish cuisine and the custom of drinking tea.

For discussion:
  1. What are some food staples in the homes and cultures of your students? Have them name some foods and dishes that come from their part of the world.
  2. Follow-up: Have students describe the food markets where they live. For example, are they specialty shops in an open area or are they large indoor supermarkets?
  3. Younger students can draw pictures of food found in their local markets.

Abeja - Is This What They Mean by the "Rock of Ages"?

The team visits the ancient Christian community carved out of stone near Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey, including the famous Dark Church. Early Christianity, the iconoclastic period, and the 11th and 12th century frescoes are discussed.

  1. Ask your students to imagine that they are one of the early Christians living in these stone dwellings. Have them write a brief summary describing their life as a monk or a nun in the fourth century practicing a religion that others think are strange, and defending themselves against hostile armies wanting to persecute them.
  2. Younger students can discuss what life must have been like for these ancient Christians.

Kavitha - Rags & Riches

The team visits one of Istanbul's leading new universities built in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods and uses the visit to explore issues of wealth and poverty in Turkey. Questions concerning wealth, poverty, religion, and conservative and modern trends are raised.

  1. Ask students why they think peasants leave their homes and move to the cities? Is it a better life? Will their conservative religious convictions survive even though they're exposed to people living much more liberal lifestyles?
  2. Have the students pretend that they are a high official in the Turkish government whose job is to improve the lives of the Kushtepe people. Their given limited funding and must use their resources wisely. Would they focus on building new houses or schools? Would they provide food or job training or something else?
  3. Ask students to fast forward ten years into the future and write a brief description of what Oslem's life might be like. Then write another summary describing what life is for the girl selling flowers.

Monica - The PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, and the "Kurdish Problem" in Turkey: Breaking Violence Apart, Replacing it with Love

A discussion of the Kurdish situation in Turkey with mention of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, and United States involvement. A visit to Diyarbakir in the Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey.

  1. Ask your students to describe how some groups in their country .
  2. Have them to name some nonviolent methods oppressed groups like the Kurds can use to fight for their rights.

Team - A Time to Acknowledge, A Time to Forgive

The Team uncovers the Armenian plight at the hands of the Turks in the beginning on the 20th century. Allied Forces and others have proclaimed Turkeys actions as a "genocide". Turkey, to this day, denies the persecution ever reached that level. The horrible facts of that persecution are displayed in graphic detail for the reader to pass judgement.

  1. Have the students remember a time when they did something wrong, then didn't want to admit it. Ask them how they felt when they were hiding their mistakes, then how they felt once they fessed up and admitted their error.
  2. Next have them relate their experience with how the Turkish government is handling their treatments of their Armenian citizens. Is the Turkish government afraid of admitting to the genocide? What would happen if the government admitted and took responsibility for their past mistreatment of the Armenians.
  3. Have the students name other peoples who have suffered under a government's attempt to eradicate their populations.

Monica - Leyla Zana's Case: Seeking Justice in an Unjust Situation

Leyla Zana is an imprisoned Kurdish representative to Parliament. The team speaks with Mr. Yusuf Alatas, lawyer for Ms. Zana.

  1. 1) Have your students to write letters to Leyla Zana. They can tell her how they learned about her imprisonment, give her their support, etc.
  2. Next, have your students to write letters to the president of Turkey respectively asking for Leyla Zana's release - if they believe she should be released.
  3. Are their any rights or beliefs that your students would fight for even if it meant imprisonment or even death? Ask your students to name them and explain why those rights/beliefs are so important to them.

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