Last week, Abdullah Gul, the 11th and current president of Turkey, visited both our universities. I had never seen a leader of a country so close, and Mike even got to shake hands with him! Here it is – Mike shaking hands with the president of Turkey!
Abdullah Gul University (Turkish:Abdullah Gül Üniversitesi) was established in 2010 and named after the president. The medium of study in the university will be English and all in all it is promising to be a fine educational institution. So far, only only the English Preparation School is working – to prepare the first batch of students, who’ll commence their first university year after studying English this whole year. Mike is among 15 or so English instructors currently working there, 10 of whom are foreigners – Americans, Englishmen, Australians etc.
The university campus is still being built. We were taken there on our second day in Kayseri as part of the city tour organized by the university. Once it’s ready, it will be a brand-new purpose-built extensive set of buildings on a large campus 15 km outside the city. This campus will be named Mimar Sinan, in honour of the famous architect.
The future looks bright, but what of the present? Currently AGU (Abdullah Gul University) is being housed in Sumer Campus. Sumer is derived from the fact that this is a site which belonged to Sumerbank, a state bank which in past decades was dedicated to the development of state industrial and commercial enterprises. The enterprise that Sumerbank developed (in the 1930’s) on the campus site was a textile factory complex, which included the main factory building (huge), depots, workshops, power station and other buildings for administration, housing and social amenities. This was a groundbreaking development for Turkey, seen as pivotal in Turkey’s diversification from a solely agricultural economy. (The enterprise was made possible with USSR expertise) The site thus has considerable social and historical significance, and has been deemed worthy of heritage status. This means that, since the factory fell into disuse some 30 years ago, nobody has been able to develop the area. The buildings stood (albeit in a state of dilapidation) as do the trees that were planted at the time, all of this resulting in a wonderfully atmospheric sense of establishedness that the new Mimar Sinan campus will not be able to emulate for 50 years or so. The plan to develop this area into modern teaching/learning facilities is both aesthetic and sensitive to heritage values, indeed the designs have won architectural prizes.
A lot of work has been done on the factory, and now the university looks great. Here are some photos of the university. One day I had to go to the police station to sort out my registration, so I rode to the university with Mike and his colleagues and then followed him around taking photos – including the one of this office with his name on the door! A few photos were taken by Mike’s colleague Ray.
With Sedef, our guardian angel. She is assistant to the director of the school of foreign languages and has been an enormous help to all of us since we arrived. The president, who by the way is himself from Kayseri, came to officially open the university. It was a grand affair, with secret service officers (or whatever the Turkish equivalent is) swarming the university in the preceding days, even bringing in sniffer dogs. On the day of the visit, there were propeller airplanes flying overhead. Mike looked like a secret service agent himself:
The president’s visit is written up on his official page, here http://www.tccb.gov.tr/visits/kayseri/agu/
Here are some more photos of Mike with his colleagues and the president touring the university
waldo Michael . On Saturday, October 26, the president visited Meliksah University, where I work. I was so excited, I didn`t even mind coming to work on Saturday, especially when I saw the giant banner with the president’s photo, a crowd of people, and all the TV vans
As the president’s security guards shepherded us behind barriers and muttered into their earpieces, I was stealthily (or so I hoped) taking pictures of them and hopping up and down. When we saw the procession of black shiny armored cars, with their flashing lights, followed by police officers on motorcycles, I squealed with delight, to the amusement of my colleagues. The president walked past us, waving, as I frantically snapped pictures which in the end didn`t come out as the sun was shining right into the camera. The president gave a speech in one of the buildings and cut an orange ribbon to officially open the 2013-2014 academic year. Meanwhile, my colleagues and I were taking photos on the read carpet, feeling like starts.