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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 members.

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:

bullet Take more political action
bulletProvide more news about Turkey
bulletContinue helping Turkey
bulletKeep getting together

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. 

Future Activities
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. 

Listserv
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
 

 

ŠArkadaslar
02/28/14