REVIEW: ABDULLAH GUL UNIVERSITY, Kayseri, Turkey

Gaziantep Bldg Talas 2
In Turkey, I first lived in Gaziantep, by Syria’s border. In this area, many highrises were being built, with the help of underpaid Syrian refugees. At a private college here, I had the two best supervisors of my career, but also the worst students. Two students were excellent: both on scholarship: one a Syrian refugee.

 

Be Aware:
Abdullah Gul University’s School of Languages
is treacherous.

I taught there from 2012-2014, during its first two years of operation.  Things may have changed, but the bully British boss hasn’t.
If you can keep your head down, don’t care about educational goals (no matter how often the boss solicits input), ignore incompetent colleagues and not argue or gossip with anyone, this may be an ideal position.

Cappadocia and Goreme offer balloon rides above their fairytale landscapes. Homes once built into the huge rocks now house hotels. 

DSCN0859_1024

Cave-rock hotel rooms

The good included:

  1. Excellent salary;
  2. Bright, hard-working students;
  3. On average, 15 or less students per class;
  4. Wi-Fi and computer-connected projectors in each classroom;
  5. The boss often had creative solutions to difficult problems;
  6. The secretary was fluent in English and wonderfully helpful;
  7. An advanced and complicated but fantastic academic computer system;
  8. Housing for first-year teachers was spectacular: off-campus, furnished and equipped three bedroom flats. Second-year teachers lived on campus in smaller, less comfortable flats that forbid possession of any alcohol.
  9. AGU attracted students who had passed the government educational exam by offering all of them a two-month free summer holiday in the United States. Actually, it was an intensive English program with ELS in various cities around the States. Students lived with American families. Two young males took off from ELS to roam about New York City! Who could blame them, being so close to one of the world’s most glamorous cities? But even my most reluctant student returned speaking English! She babbled, trying hard to find the words to communicate. Her American experience had failed where I and everything else had failed:  to motivate her.
    There was talk of limiting the program in the future to a top percentage of the class. The idea was to turn the ‘free’ into a competition to motivate students and to save money.

View from my furnished three-bedroom flat.DSCN0048

The bad included:

  • The boss bullied teachers as well as support staff;
  • Blended classroom meant no-books the first quarter. Teachers relied on the Internet for material and an in-house library from book publishers. Later, books were used in some classes;
  • Non-academic writing syllabus. I argued with the boss in group meetings for a year, making the syllabus academic. Later, he brazenly parroted all my previously belittled ideas as if they were his;
    Kayseri has the largest mosaic museum in the world. I photoshopped this so the golden highlights probably looked like this more than a thousand years ago.
  • He played favorites, appointing male coordinators who ignored group members’ input;
  • No timely Study Skills syllabus. The coordinator presented inappropriate material, including math problems lacking teacher answer sheets. He delivered the syllabus one week before the final exam. He neglected to assign points to exam questions, stating, “I’ll do that after we start grading,”;
  • The boss, who usually was the smartest person in the room, refused to replace the incompetent coordinators he had appointed. This created havoc. Every colleague I spoke to, said he knew of the problems but simply chose to ignore them;
  • The boss favored a son-substitute – being estranged from his own son – and would literally hear no wrong about this teacher and his faulty pedagogy which frustrated students and teachers alike;
HKU ROSES-JULY 2013 031s3 (1)
 

LAST ROSES 045b
Unlike the desert I fell in love with in the Gulf, Turkey surrounded itself with roses.  Tulips were also popular in early spring.


great-2-cs
LAST ROSES 108f

  • Being 63 and close to retirement, I challenged the boss and commented honestly in meetings;
  • My teacher evaluation was so distorted and untruthful, although I admit I am not Ms. Perfect, I refused to meet with him to discuss it;
  • To compensate for a fall in the value of the Turkish lira, the boss lobbied for a 20% salary increase for his favorite four, two of whom are described above, excluding us other six foreign teachers. When I learned of this, my emotions killed logic. If the four had been competent and respected colleagues, I might not have been so outraged, but these were the four most unskilled teachers;
  • I mouthed off about this to the son-substitute, using the f-word. This was a serious offense. I was suspended. However, writing unusable syllabi, or repeatedly writing impossible exams and materials were no cause for alarm;
    ABDULLAH GUL UNIVERSITY

    Interior of the School of Languages. I’m not sure if it has yet been replaced. A huge campus was being built outside of Kayseri, with accommodations included for students and teachers.

 

TURKEY-AGU-MAIN AREA
The main area and a classroom with a view of the campus.

 

TURKEY-AGU CLASSROOM VIEW
Cafeteria and a painting in the back of the cafeteria.

TURKEY-AGU-CAFETERIA TURKEY-AGU-PAINTING IN CAFETERIA

Winter AGU Campus
Winter Campus
  • I was suspended near the end of the 7th quarter in March. An investigation was conducted;
  • For more than three months, I stayed home, awaiting a decision. No one from the college contacted me, except for an email forbidding me to communicate with students. I broke this to calculate and post students’ grades. Fortunately, my salary was deposited monthly;
  • I never received information about my suspension status;
  • AGU never responded to my lawyer’s letter;
  • AGU didn’t provide an exit air flight ticket or other benefits described in the contract; and
  • I never learned of any disciplinary actions taken against two students who were recorded, on video, putting up posters supporting ISIS.
  • Oh – and terrible cafeteria food.
  • In the end, the bully-boss created an unprofessional and nightmare workplace for students and faculty. I did not receive any information about my ‘suspension’ nor any return airfare home, etc. when I left after nearly three months of almost total silence from AGU, the Head of the School of Languages, and the Dean of the University.
  • Perhaps the boss’s previous back operation, which had incapacitated him for months, kept him in a state of pain, which may have influenced his behavior. Maybe he should take pain medication such as DolceCalma or Nolotil.

 

==================================================================

Why has it taken more than two years to comment?

I left Turkey and became bed-ridden for months with a rare form of E. Coli contracted while in Turkey, (and undiagnosed there) but finally named in Portugal. Nowadays, the E. Coli flares under stress, such as relocation. Settling into a new country takes time. I also wanted to distance myself from the experience.

This last full-time teaching position in Turkey was as mind-crippling as my first overseas job nearly 30 years ago in Saudi Arabia. Like Saudi, recovering took nearly two years to regain my mental and moral compass.

Fortunately, since I left Turkey, I’ve done some rewarding private tutoring with appreciative students.

The British boss at AGU was one of the worst monster-bosses I’ve had. And he’s still in charge! (Although he was said to be worried about his own job status while AGU ignored me.)

TURKEY-ROSE W-2BUDS

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