We are a group of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served in Turkey in the 1960s and early 1970 and other Friends of Turkey.
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 still takes place in several 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 were our major opportunity to come together and recall who we were and what our service to Turkey meant, but our motivation was more than social. A survey of our membership in 1996 encouraged Arkadaslar to: take more political action; provide more news about Turkey; continue helping Turkey; and keep getting together.
The Board of Arkadaslar tried to live up to our members’ expectations. We were not a PAC, but with the establishment of our listserv, we had more access to political and social news about Turkey. We continued to provide financial aid to a rural economic development program that supported beekeeping and the production of honey among farmers in Eastern Anatolia. We also provided financial support to the Sevinc Abla School in Adana, which serves children with various mental and physical problems. Members also 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). We mobilized to find volunteers and solicit funds to help with recovery from a major earthquake in Turkey. Over $14,000 was donated by 179 people to various earthquake relief groups.
We continued to promote contacts among our membership and organized successful several reunions in Washington, D.C.
Although our association has disbanded, many of us still try to provide avenues for Turkey RPCVs to stay informed about Turkey and to get together. Beyond our dinners, we have two listservs: one for news of Turkey and one with news of Turkey RPCVs.