Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School

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Lisa Morrow (1982)

Author, blogger & English teacher based in Istanbul, Turkey

What have you been doing since you left Glenaeon? Did you do any tertiary study? If so, where did you study and what was your qualification?

I left Glenaeon at the end of Year 7 and went to a selective girls’ high school. It was a shock to the system but I did well and won a place at university. After completing a year at Sydney University, I worked in various jobs, including as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, barmaid and at a car counter before going overseas.

Once there I hitchhiked throughout the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme really changed my life.

I spent the following years moving between Australia and Turkey. In between moves, I went back to university and graduated with a BA Hons Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University.

In Turkey I worked as an English teacher at universities in Istanbul and in central Anatolia, while in Australia I worked in publishing, accounts, and as an English teacher and freelance proof reader, before deciding to call Istanbul home. I moved to Göztepe on the Asian side of the city with my husband in 2010.

How did Glenaeon influence your career choice?

As you can see, I haven't followed only one career path. My years at Glenaeon were very influential as we were encouraged to try a huge range of activities such as pottery, woodworking, painting, writing, eurythmy and so on. No distinctions were made as to the value of the subject. Intellectual development, academic excellence, physical prowess and manual dexterity were given equal importance, and it was assumed that all the students, whether male or female, would participate. As a result I’ve never limited myself to any one thing and only feel balanced when I have a little bit of everything going on in my life.

What are your professional achievements?

In addition to my university degree I have a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). Most recently I have returned to writing. It is my first love and was nurtured at Glenaeon through the main lessons. I have written two books to date, “Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City” and “Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries”. In the first I explore my fascination with the interplay of tradition and modernity in Turkey, and in particular how it plays out in a metropolis such as Istanbul. Although it is touted as a modern city, in many ways I feel like I’m back in the village. My second book is a more personal look at how my experiences as a foreigner in Turkey have changed me. I used the idea that travel forces us away from the known (Istanbul) towards the unknown (the east of Turkey). Along the way, if we’re lucky, we find ourselves, but we’re a different person at the end of the journey.

What is your favourite Glenaeon memory?

I went to the Middle Cove campus, so the natural environment plays a big part in my memories. I came to Glenaeon in Class 3, and in my first week, my classmates went into the bamboo patch, braving the pig’s head grove, only to find a dead red belly black snake. They left it on the teacher’s desk as a present.

Another time I fell into the creek trying to cross the stand of bamboo we called the mean machine. I returned to class and dripped and steamed dry for the rest of the day. My last memory is from 1977. It was muck-up week, and the whole school was down at the big oval, watching a softball match between the Year 12 students and the teachers. The theme of the year was music, and the final years were dressed as Kiss and other glam rock bands. Every time a teacher made it to base one of the students would dump flour all over them and another hosed them down. Looking back I am amazed at how tolerant our teachers were. They gave us a lot of freedom and enabled us in our learning and development, rather than stifling and limiting us with petty rules.

What are your plans for 2015?

Living in a country where planning isn’t part of most people’s vocabulary, this is a hard question to answer! I have another manuscript called “Where the Tulips Dance: Finding the Heart of Istanbul” which I would like to see published. I’m also planning to take a certificate course in Turkish with the aim of becoming a translator in the future. Other than that I hope to do more travelling and enjoy what life offers.

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