Welcome To OIS

December 01, 2009 | Orchards
By Jenna Newcomer

“Hayya alassalah,” the wailing call of Turkey, bounces through the mountains. First light has come to Ankara. Throughout the city, the call to prayer sounds from the mosques on each corner. Bread sellers prepare their wares for early morning customers. Newspapers are delivered to corner markets. Street vendors leave their homes and head for the heart of the city. Buses start up in anticipation of their morning routes. Mini-bus drivers pause for a hot cup of tea before starting on their way. This is Ankara, Turkey, home of Oasis International School. OIS sits at the top of a hill in a neighborhood on the edge of the capital city of this 99% Muslim nation.

OIS opened its doors in the fall of 2004 with 65 students from a dozen different countries. These children were the children of diplomats, MKs, and children of businessmen. Years have passed, children continue to come and go. God has been faithful and the school continues to grow. Now, OIS Ankara is in its 6th year of operation with nearly 250 students from more than 40 different countries.

I came to the school in August 2005, at the beginning of its second year of operation. As a brand new teacher, fresh from university, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. It was my first journey overseas and just getting into the country was a whirlwind of delayed visas, missed connections, and lost luggage. As I finally arrived at my new home at 5a.m. that hot August morning, the call to prayer was just sounding. It reached my ears as a strange new sound that would soon become a very familiar part of my life. “This is Ankara,” it said to me, “Welcome to one of the largest unreached nations in the world. Welcome to your new life. Welcome to a land that is so different from your own. Welcome to the confusion, excitement, and discovery of living in this country. Good-bye America, hello Turkey.”

Nothing could ever have prepared me for the first day of teaching at OIS. ESL took on a whole new meaning for me as I watched students write sentences like “name is my friend you me here.” I’ll never forget those first blank stares at my cheery first day greeting “Good morning! What’s your name?” Since that day, I have grown accustomed to those stares. I now welcome the challenges that come from teaching at a school with such a wonderfully diverse population. Along with those challenges, I embrace the joys and excitement of teaching those students. Imagine the way that geography comes to life with student cries of “My Grandmother lives in Rome!,” “Miss Newcomer, I was born in Hong Kong!,” and “I visited Dubai on my last vacation!”

Imagine the wonder of introducing students to new sports and activities. Imagine the excitement of watching students from Japan, Korea, America, Italy, Iran, and Nigeria come together as a team to play soccer, basketball, volleyball or tennis. This is Oasis International School. Students have the opportunity to participate in “normal” extra curricular activities like sports, drama, and music. But, through the diversity of the teachers at our school, they also gain the chance to participate in less common ECAs like juggling, cooking, clogging, hobby clubs, bible club, and swing dancing. We may not have an indoor gymnasium or a full-size soccer field, but OIS is still bursting with new ways for students to practice teamwork, play hard, learn, and grow.

“Hayya alassalah,” the wailing call, again bounces through the mountains. Sundown has come to Ankara. Throughout the city, the call to prayer can be heard. Cars zip through the streets, buses stop and pick up passengers and the crowded mini-buses squeeze through the rush hour traffic, horns honking. People dash across busy intersections and the sound of the call blends into the sounds of the city. A few men rush to a nearby mosque to say their prayers, but many continue on with their homeward journey as the call merges into the background, becoming part of the city noise. This is Ankara, Turkey - home of Oasis International School. OIS sits on the top of a hill, at the edge of the city, in this Muslim nation. A light on the hill, His light shining in the darkness.

Jenna Newcomer is from Salina, Kansas. She is currently in her fifth year at Oasis International School and is serving as the Librarian as well as teaching elementary computer classes. She enjoys reading, crocheting, clogging, and spending time with people. Jenna’s twin brother is currently serving OASIS in Afghanistan.

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