Team Highlight: Rayka Kumru, MSx, M.A

This year we will be shining a spotlight on our contractors and volunteers and their work with UN|HUSHED – and we are thrilled to begin with Rayka Kumru!

What initially drew you to working with UN|HUSHED?

“In all honesty, the possibility of working with and learning from Karen Rayne, UN|HUSHED’s Executive Director, was my initial motivator. I had been utilizing some of the resources she had created with Sam Killermann in my university classrooms and thought ‘how amazing would it be to have all of these resources available in Turkish.’ The first project we collaborated on was the translation of the Sexualitree into Turkish. The language and content was very easy to translate because of how inclusively it was written. The feedback I received from my students and other professionals were very positive.”

How is sexuality education typically regarded in your local communities?

I work across cultures, mainly in British Columbia, Canada, and in larger cities in Turkey. Sexuality education is a part of the provincial curriculum in BC, and thus the right of the student. There are institutional and systemic (legal, education and health) structures in place that support what is being taught and valued. Of course, there are certain groups that have issues with sexual health education in schools, sexual and reproductive rights, and access in general but I guess that comes with the territory. 

In recent years, mostly due to a rise of violence against women and sexual violence against children, awareness around protective and preventative measures like sexuality education has been getting more attention in Turkey. However, sex ed is not a part of the curriculum. Even subjects like evolution and reproduction have had very unstable standing in the Turkish curriculum so schools or parents need to take initiative to make sex ed available and accessible. Sex ed thus becomes another luxury most children and young people do not end up having access to. On a positive note (because a step is a step no matter how big or small), there are collective and individual initiates taken by associations, professionals and educators to make certain content more available through free platforms like podcasts, youtube or e-books. 

What skill sets or projects are you currently working on with UN|HUSHED?

I’m currently working on translation of the high school curriculum for Canadian contexts. We’re almost done with the content, which is very exciting. I can’t wait for this amazing resource to be used across high schools and with teens across Canada. My next project will be to translate An Introduction to Sexuality Education: A Handbook for Mental Health Practitioners and some of UN|HUSHED’s free resources into Turkish. The idea of having a guidebook for mental health practitioners focusing on sexuality education has been a huge dream. Our goal is to have the content translate by the end of summer. 

What project would you dream to work on with UN|HUSHED?

I would love to work on lesson plans focusing on addressing cultural myths in sexuality education contexts. UN|HUSHED offers programs and content that are really easily adaptable. I also feel like, especially in culturally diverse learning environments, like the ones in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, understanding the cultural sources of questions, contexts and histories is key in being able to really get across to folks of all ages.