LOUISE GILBERT, ECUK CO-FOUNDER, DESCRIBES HER RECENT VISITS TO TURKEY IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE DEVASTATING EARTHQUAKES
In June, I was fortunate to visit Bursa and spend time with Nalan Kuru and her team. Nalan is Professor of Early Childhood Education at Uludag University, Founder of the EC Turkey Institute and Coordinator of Turkey’s Annual Emotion Friendly Awareness Days. She is also leading a national research project - Support Sustainable Emotional and Behavioural Well-Being in Early Childhood: Emotion Friendly Kindergartens, - which is funded by the Scientific and Technological Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). Nalan has even found time to accept the role of being a recognised ECUK Lead Practitioner.
It was an action packed few days for us all with an overarching focus on raising emotional awareness through the promotion of nurturing and empathetic connections.
The 2nd Emotion Friendly Awareness Day was held at Bursa University and was well-attended by students, lecturers, senior management and early years practitioners from all over Turkey. With the help of a wonderful translator, Gizem, I opened the day and spoke about Emotion Coaching and the foundations to learning. Those unable to attend in person were able to listen online and to share the activities, planned to for the day, in their own kindergartens. It was a great celebration of hope and human spirit in a country that is having to deal with the traumatic aftermath of the recent devastating earthquakes.
As the overseas consultant to Nalan and the team’s Project in Emotion Friendly Kindergartens, we spent time reviewing progress and discussing the next steps. The team is hoping to complete the recruitment phase soon and they're finalising the modules that will be offered to the participating kindergartens. We were also able to visit kindergartens and hear how they support children’s and families’ emotional needs. I was very touched by the generosity shown by the children and the practitioners in sharing their experience and insights.
Together, we ran an Introduction to Emotion Coaching training day for over 25 practitioners from all over the country. Turkish practitioners are keen to extend their EC knowledge and adapt this for their work and home practice repertories. It was a busy and productive day, particularly for Gizem and Nalan, who worked tirelessly interpreting my EC anecdotes. From the evaluations, I think all of us took away a shared EC understanding, discovered different ways to present training activities, and forged new friendships.
Although only in Bursa for a few days, there were opportunities to see the beauty of Bursa, the splendour of Istanbul, and to experience Turkish hospitality and cuisine. Sharing these with Nalan and the team has made unique and special memories.
Under the watchful eye of Professor Nalan, I believe that the Emotion Coaching Turkey Institute’s journey will be able to combine the ‘ways of being’ - that are integral to Turkish culture - with EC knowledge and understanding. In doing so, EC practice developments will benefit from the expertise of its practitioners and parents in addressing the needs of their children.