blind, Canakkale, Denizli, Istanbul, Izmir, Izmit, Mecidiyekoy, Ozyegin University, Parilti Dernegi, SELI, social awareness club, social responsibility, social responsibility projects, Turkey, visully-impaired
I had never thought about teaching visually impaired students in my life before November 2011. Teaching students who can perfectly see was already challenging. If you are a teacher, you have to consider different needs of the students, their motivation levels, how to engage them into the lessons with various enjoyable and challenging activities catering for the needs of students with different learning styles and so on. Also, I had never met a blind student during my education and professional life before, so the world of the blinds was totally strange to me. I did not even know what the proper way to talk to them was if there was any. Ignorant of the existence of that “new” world, I suddenly found myself with a lot of blind children full of life. If you are interested in how I met them, here is my story:
In November, 2011 I got an email message from the deputy director of SELI, Aybike Oguz, telling that a social responsibility project in SELI was about to start. In the email message it was stated that Nergis Akbay, the director of SELI, and Aybike Oguz had had meetings with different parties including some of the prep students at university to involve prep students in social responsibility projects. As a result of all the meetings, discussions and feedback they got from different parties, they decided to offer projects to prep students who were interested in social responsibility on a voluntary basis and start a pilot project with Jason Lau, the social entrepreneurship supervisor. Since it was a pilot project, Aybike would ask only 10 students from the prep program to give tutorials to visually impaired primary school students in subjects like English and Maths. She had already announced the project in two of the classes that she taught. If the project turned out to be a success, SELI management would consider including more students in similar projects. The volunteers would work with Parilti Dernegi (the link for the website of the foundation was also provided in the email: www.parilti.org.tr), and the interested names would be given an orientation program on November 19 in Buyukdere Caddesi Bentek Is Merkezi No: 47 Daire: 2 Mecidiyekoy. 10 of SELI students would attend that orientation program, but SELI management also would like to have one or two SELI faculty in that orientation program. If we were interested in going to that orientation program, we were supposed to send our names to Aybike.
As a volunteer who had participated in and organized several social responsibility projects, I sent my name to Aybike. 5 days later we were going to gather at Parilti Dernegi to meet Seray Oney, the general secretary at Parilti Dernegi, and learn what we could do to help the blind children who come to the foundation from Istanbul and different cities like Izmir, Denizli, Canakkale and Izmit in Turkey on a weekly basis to get support or supplementary courses. So this was the beginning of the story. A new page was opened in my life.
P.S. The logo was created by Omer Faruk Yilmaz, my previous student at Ihsan Dogramaci Foundation Bilkent Erzurum Laboratory High School, for the Social Awareness Club that I set up.