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Leighton Fifth Graders Get Inside Look At Turkey From Foreign Exchange Student

Submitted Article

OSWEGO, NY – “We don’t eat turkeys in Turkey, although they exist,” said Hazel Pacaci as she addressed the fifth grade students at the Frederick Leighton Elementary School.

Pacaci is a foreign exchange student who is spending this year at the Oswego High School.

Hazal Pacaci is surrounded by fifth grade students at the Frederick Leighton Elementary School as the foreign exchange students shared knowledge of her homeland with the elementary youngsters.
Hazal Pacaci is surrounded by fifth grade students at the Frederick Leighton Elementary School as the foreign exchange students shared knowledge of her homeland with the elementary youngsters.

While she is in the United States area teachers are using her to provide an educational experience for their students as youngsters learn about other nations and cultures.

Teacher Jennifer Cahill noted students were engrossed in their guest.

Pacaci brought along a Powerpoint presentation packed with information.

However, even before she reached the third slide, the youngsters started to inundate her with questions about Turkey.

Students were curious as to types of food, schools, weather, geographic location and sports.

Pacaci explained about the rich culture of her nation which has been called “The Cradle of the Civilizations.”

She explained how the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and that it replaced the Ottoman system.

The educational system is a bit different from Oswego.

She noted that high school students don’t go from room to room, but that the teachers move instead.

She also explained that everyone, including the principal and teachers have the same lunch period as the students.

One surprise for the Oswego students was when she said, “As a sign of respect, students always stand up when a teacher enters the room.”

Students were very interested in the food of Turkey.

She explained to them “the most traditional dessert in Turkey is baklava which is a very sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey.”

Her slides of a market provided numerous foods and items that aren’t common in the United States.

She said, “Turks eat lots of vegetables and fruits. In Turkey we prepare fresh foods for dinner and go to the market regularly. Fast food isn’t normal for us. We have fast food, but a pizza would be something special and not something that would be considered a regular dinner.”

Pacaci explained, “Turkish coffee is a tradition for us and it is very famous. It is prepared in an ibrik which is a small coffee pot that is heated. Sugar is added during the brewing process and not after. Cream or milk are never added.”

She also explained, “In some regions, your fortune is told by the placement of coffee grinds left in the cup.”

Students were quite interested in the various foods and she showed pictures of many and explained what each one tasted like.

Leighton fifth grade students now know what sutlac, manti and cay are.

Students who were sports fans wanted to know about ice hockey and other sports in Turkey. Pacaci said, “We have football, but it is called soccer here and there really isn’t much ice hockey.”

Holidays are also very important in Turkey, but she noted, “We don’t have your type of Thanksgiving. We don’t really eat turkey in Turkey.”

However, she is spending her first Thanksgiving in the Oswego and will certainly have an opportunity to try this food that is foreign to her.

Cahill said, “This was a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn first hand about a different culture. I appreciated Hazal visiting with us and I know students benefited from her knowledge about Turkey.”