Tag: Blue Mosque

Happy New Year!

We’ve taken a holiday break from the blog, which means this post will be long and chock full of photos! We are now in a city about 4 hours north of Reyhanli, called Gaziantep. I’m really enjoying this city–the people are warm and welcoming.

Our friend, As’ad Sieo, connected us with a wonderful Syrian school here; its name translates to “Friendship School”. We’re also incredibly lucky that another friend, Khalid Eid, has been teaching art classes for us at this school. Khalid is a natural-born teacher, with an energy that the children love. The moment he begins speaking in a classroom, the children light up with joy. It’s magical to watch. Below, I’m posting a few photos of Khalid in action, but I’ll be posting some video clips of him as well in a later post. (Khalid’s also a photographer, so I’ll post some of his photographs in the next post, as well.)

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

Khalid and his students, by Mieke Strand

A student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

A student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Here are a couple of the paintings from the art sessions:

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

Painting by a child at the Syrian Friendship School in Gaziantep, photo by David Gross

David’s been making many portraits at this school; I’m including a few, mostly of teachers, below. We’re saving most of the photos of the kids for the book.

Manager at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Manager at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Teacher at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Teacher at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Student at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Class of students at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

Class of students at the Friendship School in Gaziantep, Turkey, by David Gross

I’ve started working again with my digital camera, photographing the city and the neighborhoods where the students live. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to take the school bus home with one of the girls at the school (and Khalid, who is also a fantastic translator). Below are a few photographs that I took on the bus ride:

Students from the Friendship School getting off the bus after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Students from the Friendship School getting off the bus after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Friendship School bus dropping kids off after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Friendship School bus dropping kids off after school in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from the Friendship School bus in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from the Friendship School bus in Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

View from a neighborhood in Gaziantep in which many Syrians are currently living, by Mieke Strand

View from a neighborhood in Gaziantep in which many Syrians are currently living, by Mieke Strand

And last, but not least, I’ve been going out photographing in the streets of Gaziantep to document city life. I’ll include just a couple here:

Gaziantep at night, by Mieke Strand

Gaziantep at night, by Mieke Strand

Portrait of a man from Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Portrait of a man from Gaziantep, by Mieke Strand

Görüşürüz! -Mieke

photoIMG_1083

(photographs of the minarets of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, taken from outside the gate – left by David, right by Mieke)

The past couple of days have been a jet-lagged whirlwind, but the project is starting to take definite shape. We met yesterday with the art therapy group, Arkabahçe, and we are very excited to be working them. One of their therapy techniques is to have children create “books of life” in which they paint or draw images of their past, present, and future. We are thrilled with this idea as it encourages the children to find hope in their future despite the difficulties of their past or present experiences.

Today, we met up with Ezgi Içöz, another art therapist in Istanbul. Ezgi completed her art therapy training in the Bay Area, and lived for a time in Oakland, not far from us (small world!). It looks like she will be able to work with us in January, and we’re so happy to have her help.

We also got some helpful updates from one of David’s friends, Ferdi Limani, a photojournalist now living in Istanbul. Ferdi recently returned from Syria and spoke of the pure chaos that now reigns throughout the country. Although we’re not planning to cross the border from Turkey into Syria, it’s helpful to hear first-hand about the everyday living conditions in Syria.

And last but not least, we had tea tonight with Nergiz Özdemir. Nergiz is a psychologist based in Istanbul, and she’s helped us enormously. She works primarily with street children, a group that now includes many Syrian refugee kids. She was recently interviewed on Turkish television regarding the crises these young refugees are facing.

In short (and I’m trying to keep this short!), our team is coming together. We have been amazed and touched by the generosity of the people we’ve met, in contributing their time and effort to Inside-Outside. It’s exciting and gratifying to see the ideas we’ve been refining over the past months come to life amongst others.

Oh, and since my last visit to Istanbul, I’ve been dreaming of yoghurt with sour cherry jam. It did not disappoint.

-Mieke





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