Tom Schantz

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I taught at the Ortaokul in the village of Sultandagi which was the center of the Sultandagi township so the school took in students from neighboring villages, mostly in the nearby mountains (hence the name of the village). I had 500 plus students, taught 30 plus hours a week, six days a week. In the summer of 1967 I participated in the chicken project and taught at Middle East Technical University in Ankara. I've just been looking at pictures of my own village from an on-line site and apparently things have changed a great deal in 40 years. The electricity that was "gelecek"--coming--came and the only pictures of the old village square are now labeled "Eski Sultandagi"--old Sultandagi. It now appears to have a quite modern looking square with bright lights and cars parked everywhere. In my day only the doctor had a car (not counting the army vehicles). We used to jam 8 or so of us in to it and drive 70 kilometers to Afron to see a movie--everyone loved ziffer ziffer yedi (007 James Bond) movies. We did see movies in the village, Turk Mali--Turkish made--black and white affairs shown with the help of a handcranked generator. Sometimes the generator operator got so caught up in the movie that he forgot to crank and the movie slipped into slow motion. IThe village was pretty primitive, so much so that when the Peace Corps doctor and area coordinator came through they stayed in Afyon, taking me with them so I could take an actual shower. Ordinarily, I went to the village bath. I recall one night that one of the men sitting next to me pulled a knife from his towell and shouted, "If the U.S. gives us permission, we could be in Moscow in a week." Mostly, however, the villagers were very peaceful. One night I was invited by the grocer (his shop was the size of the average U.S. guest bedroom) to come to the Mosque. They symbolically washed by hair, hands and feet and I actually participated in the services. The next day practically everyone in the village stopped me in the street and thanked me for the respect I showed their religion. At the same time they realized that I was not a Muslim and that I was not expected to repeat the performance. Speaking of that grocer, I recall the day the first can opener arrived in the village. No one knew how to work it (there weren't that many canned goods in the village), so I opened one can at the store. Soon everyone wanted to open a can and within minutes every can in the store had been opened. I always wondered how much English my students actually ever learned, then one day some American tourists drove through the village, stopping at the grocers to pick up snacks. They were surrouned by my students who helped them and gave them directions in perfect English--better than I had ever seen in the classroom. After the Americans left, a villager standing in back of the crowd turned to me and said, "I imagine you could have helped them too." Once some U.S. soliders showed up in the village to hunt boars and asked if I could arrange for some villagers to act as brush beaters. They paid them more than most made in a month. Laughing one of them said to me, "These soldiers are paying us to clear our fields of the boars that constanctly menace us. What a deal!" The soldiers were so taken aback my conditions in the village that when they left they emptied out their backpacks and gave the contents to me. There are a hundred other stories but mostly I remember thinking that there was no real hardship and that I was incredibly lucky to be able to live as a Turk in such a village.