This year, we volunteered as journalists for the Preparatory Newsletter and had a chance to work with Monique Gümüş and Don Dungan.
We knew them as our teachers, but then they became our bosses and editors. Who are these two driving forces behind PACTS?
How does it feel to be a foreigner in Turkey?
Monique: From day one, Turkey has been a place to come home to. I only felt as a foreigner while I was trying to learn Turkish, but for the rest Turkey has always been home to me. It has been the Turkish people that gave me that feeling because they are very welcoming.
Don: When Turkish people don’t know you and because I am older, some people call me ‘Don abi’, which is kinda nice. The little ones say ‘Don amca’ or when other people see me they say ‘enişte’. It is good and it makes me feel a little bit closer to the Turkish people because you feel you have this enormous family. These things bring you closer and I love that about Turkey.
Monique: But I hated it when I went from ‘abla’ to ‘teyze’ 🙂
This is for Monique: your previous job as a consultant involved lots of travelling around the world, why did you change your job and start to teach in Turkey?
Monique: Sometimes a career becomes too important in life. If you work 80-100 hours in a week, there is no time for a private life and no matter how great the job is, it just becomes too much. When I turned 35, I realized that a private life, having time for your family, for your friends, is actually more important than work, more work and more money. In the year after I moved to Turkey, all of a sudden I had time for friends, family and myself. However, if you don’t work for a few years, at some moment you run out of money and you have to start working again. Being both a translator Dutch-French-English and an educational psychologist, I was asked to start teaching English and I loved it. The interaction with young people who are on the brink of adulthood, and who are ready to take on the world. With the same expectations, dreams, ambition and laziness that I had at that age.
How does it feel when you talk with your students about life and sharing your ideas?
Monique: I think that is the most important part of teaching, especially at a university. Because what we teach of course is the English language, but that is only a part of what you should know. Telling you about not just English culture but culture in different countries with different people. I hope it makes you open your eyes and think about other people, other countries, and other cultures. And that they are not just positive, but that they can also be negative, and that a lot of the time Turkey is actually better than what goes on in other countries. And those are the lessons you have to learn before you start travelling yourself.
Don: I think part of our jobs as native speakers is to show them our culture, so I put on music that I like to listen to. Because I am from Alabama, I put on some country music every once in a while and I try to show them that I react to that music and that people from my country react to it.
How did ‘’PACTS’’ start?
Don: It started with Evrim, the director of the School of Foreign Languages. She asked if I could do a few things so students and teachers could have a bit more fun. That’s how PACTS started in January 2016 with Monique, me, Eric and Anıl.
Monique: They asked him first of all because he had been doing Trivia Quizs for so many years already. That’s why Don was the first person.
Who’s idea was “Making Things Happen” ?
Monique: I have no idea. Was it yours or Erics’ ?
Don: (laughs) I came up with that one night and then I asked everbody else what they thought about it and they said they liked it. And it was the same with the name PACTS. Evrim told us we could have a room, but that she didn’t have a name for it, so we sort of started thinking about something short but meaningful, and we came up with PACTS: Prepatory Activity Center for Teachers and Students.
You guys are like best friends. How did that happen?
Monique: We have been working together for 12-13 years. We sort of have the same way of working. Things have to be exactly right. If you are organizing something, everything has to be 100%. Having the same work styles, it helps.
Don: And we don’t like doing things at the last minute. We like having things ready long before the event.
This question is for Don; what’s it like being with five women around the house?
Don: Oh God, three daughters, one wife and we have a female cat, Yumoş. Sometimes I love it but trying to get to the bathroom in the morning is terrible. I always try to get up first and get to the bathroom first and then the girls can fight over it. But I like being the king of my house.