History of Our Organization
In 1984, a group of Turkey RPCVs
gathered at the home of Jeri Mayer in Washington, D.C. for the first
annual dinner celebrating "Cumhuriyet Bayram," on October 29,
Turkey's National Republic Day. The annual celebration now takes place
in about 18 cities across the nation. In 1991 the Washington group
formed our organization, Arkadaslar,
and in 1992 we drafted a constitution and elected our first board
The annual dinners have been our major
opportunity to come together and recall who we were and what our service
to Turkey meant, but our motivation is more than social. A survey of our
membership in 1996 encouraged Arkadaslar to:
The Board of Arkadaslar has tried to live up to our members' expectations. We are not yet a PAC, but with the establishment of our listserv, we have more access to political and social news about Turkey. We continue to provide financial aid to a rural economic development program that supports beekeeping and the production of honey among farmers in Eastern Anatolia. We also provide financial support to the Sevinc Abla School in Adana, which serves children with various mental and physical problems. In 1999, members gave to the Pediatric Neurological Laboratory, which specializes in childhood epilepsy, at the Haceteppe University Hospital in Ankara as a memorial to Eric Olson (T-01). Since summer, 1999 we have mobilized to find volunteers and solicit funds to help with the major earthquake in Turkey. Over $14,000 was donated by 179 people to various earthquake relief groups.
We continue to promote contacts among our membership. We organized a successful reunion in Washington, D.C. in July, 1995, and again in May, 1999, when 61 members, friends and former Turkish staff participated in a conference in Ankara, hosted by the Turkey RPCVs who now live there. Some RPCVs then returned to their old sites, and rejoined on the final day in Istanbul where the new and old Turkey were compared, and nostalgia grew with the beauty of a Bosphorus cruise.
In the years ahead we will continue to provide avenues for our members to keep informed about Turkey and to get together. Beyond our dinners, we have the newsletter,
Buralarda, which comes out several times a year, and the listserv.
Our organizational strength lies in the dedication and interest of members. You can become involved by contributing to our newsletter and the message board on our website, staying in contact and sharing your news with all of us, encouraging new members, and supporting Arkadaslar projects.
The Arkadaslar listserv was started and has been supported technically by a great friend of ours, Muharrem Sev. To subscribe to the list, send an e-mail to Sandy Anderson at <TurkeyDost@aol.com>. Listserv members can post a message of universal interest to the list at <ArkadaslarFriends@yahoogroups.com>.
Peace Corps /Turkey:
A Retrospective by David N. Weinman