I have finally made it to Van, where I will be staying for the next nine months. I came to teach English and take names. But I’ll give them back when I’m through. I just need them for a small trick.
On Monday I met with the English department head for the first time. Before I left the states, I was told that I would need to wear, as a daily uniform, a dress shirt and slacks. The teachers who inspired me in high school wore flannel and jeans, and had great big bushy beards. But they also had to teach in the Bates Annex. That’s where the ghosts were.
Anyway, I had to buy several shirts and pants. I even had to shine my shoes. And when I walked into the English department, the head was wearing a Hollister shirt.
His name is Hassan, and he is a nice old man. He, along with everyone else, wears jeans and, if they feel like it, a collar. He told me that at the university, the department was known as the English mafia, because they got the best rooms, and they “had all the projectors.” I said I was glad I had joined the right team.
I found out that I’ll be teaching conversational English to graduate students and professors; my students probably won’t have much experience at all, and most likely know nothing about dragons, so I have my work cut out for me. I’ll teach 12 hours a week, with one catch – I don’t start until mid-October.
When Hassan told me this, I was a little shocked. All the other Fulbrighters were supposed to start that day, that first Monday when they walked into the office. But I have two weeks to myself. I briefly thought about leaving immediately – I thought about traveling for a few weeks around Eastern Turkey before my classes started. But something made me reconsider. As I thought about my next two weeks, I realized I had an opportunity to rise in the English mafia. And so I asked Hassan: “Tell me – how can I get in on the projectors?”