Turkey 1 Bios
My Experiences In Turkey and Afterward
In the summer of 1962 , I was accepted into the first Peace
Corps Program designated for Turkey. I had just received a BS in Forestry
and the Peace Corps seemed an ideal place to use my forestry knowledge. Two
of us had signed up for what we initially thought was Borneo, but turned out
to be the first group headed for Turkey. We
in a small subgroup (ultimately eight) designated as “agricultural workers”.
After training with the teachers at College Park that summer, the eight of
us were sent to Puerto Rico for additional “boot camp-like” training. I
still remember how our indoctrination into Turkish language and culture
suffered in that tropical, Spanish-speaking atmosphere. Helping us keep our
Turkish focus was Özer Sömez, who you may remember as one of our teachers.
Özer Bey turned out to more of a playboy than a teacher.
Approximately a month after the teachers, we arrived in
Turkey, had some in-country training and were sent to Mersin in the south.
Unlike the teachers, Me and the Boss
we didn’t have fixed
Working in the Woods
positions, but were merely assigned
to different agricultural agencies. Two of us went to the Turkish Forest
Service, but they didn’t know what to do with two foreigners with
weak language skills. For
about a month we worked surveying a plantation near the town of Tarsus. At
the beginning of the winter rainy season, I went up to Ankara to try to find
a more productive job. I ended up working at the Forestry Research Institute
in Ankara for the rest of my time. I worked for Şerif Alemdağ , the director of forest
management. Most of my work centered around gathering field data for a yield
table for Scots pine. The work took me into the forests of northern Turkey
from Bolu to Sarıkamış
where I did a lot of tree measuring on field plots we set up. The work took
me to some interesting places though transportation to the woods was
problem. At one time it even
included horse riding.
For part of the time I worked with a Turkish Forester. As he
didn't know English, this was good for my Turkish. I was one of the first
volunteers to get permission to travel to eastern Turkey. In the process of
hunting for suitable stands of pine, we even passed through Kars and Erzurum.
During the winter, I did statistical analyses in the office at the Forestry
Research Institute in Ankara. Once during a slow period, I acted as a driver
for Terry Nichols. Twice during my tour, I took a month to travel, once to
Europe and once through the Middle East to Syria, Egypt and Israel. My
experiences in Turkey will always be memorable, and later lead to
friendships with Turkish students at University.
After I returned from Turkey, I obtained a Master of
Forestry from the University of Michigan, and later a PhD in plant
physiology from the University of California. For many years I worked at UC
doing research in forest soils and plant nutrition. My work also involved
independent field studies of forest regeneration and mine reclamation. I
retired in 2004 and presently live in Richmond, California.
In 1984, I returned to Turkey as a visitor. I was interested
to see what changes had taken place and to see parts of the country which I
had not had a chance to visit before. I was surprised at how much change had
taken place since the sixties. I actually got lost in Ankara, and in Mersin
got off the bus in a part of town I didn't even remember. In Mersin, I found
the house we use to live in and had an interesting chat with the couple who
lived there. While traveling around the country by bus, I noticed that
tractors had replaced farm animals. In Ankara, I visited with old friends
who had been students at the University of California. In addition to
spending time in Istanbul, I visited many of the tourist towns along the
Aegean coast. This trip proved enlightening as it showed how much change has
taken place in Turkey.
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