On 26th June 2005, we had another alumni day for graduates of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. On our 30th year graduation anniversary,
we were together with Teo, my classmate for more than 30 years. He told this story, and I added up some further clarifications for better understanding of the reader.
Here is his story,
Sometime in October 1966, I was a recent high school graduate, recently accepted to Middle East Technical University in Ankara. METU, for short, was founded mostly by US aid in 1955s with curriculum copy of MIT in USA. Education language was, and still is English.
We were supposed to learn English in preparatory school for one-year before attending freshman courses. Our teachers were mostly native English speakers, American, British, Australian, any other.
I was in the early days for the new semester, trying to get oriented to the new atmosphere, new style, and new procedures.
Everything was new for me. We had also foreign colleagues from nearby countries. However we had our own cultural limitations. We were trying to learn the new ways of life.
In our class, we had a number of Turkish girls, all local. They were very shy. They were resisting making any friendship, as if they would loose their virginity with handshake.
One day we saw an announcement, in English. “It is our 10th Anniversary of our University. You are invited to our Ball, on the weekend. Get dressed well." We had daydreaming all day for that ball.
We got dressed. It was our first Ball for most of us. That night we, all-boys gang, were young, sharp, clean, shaved, ready for the ball, to meet pretty girls.
Unfortunately all pretty young girls were absent. We had all grown up professionals, academicians, politicians, businessmen, old local folk etc.
Later in the night, President of our University, Mr. Kemal Kurdas, in his late 40s, came to our group with a lady in her early 40s. Lady was beautiful. Her skin was ivory white, her hair in whitish blond. Very fit, very thin, pure white skin, but unable to hide her age, seem her early 40s. Maybe Nicole Kidman of today. Very rare or even unseen beauty example of that day.
We would never think of being her friend, never boyfriend ever.
President called me and asked,
“My son, what year are you in?”
“I am in prep school, Sir”
“How is your English?”
“At beginners stage, sir.”
“My poor son, you lost the Chick.”
What chick, What is Chick? Who is Chick? Why did I loose the Chick??
Later in the night, I started to understand what Chick would mean.
Later I understood that I could dance with a lady professor. I could ask to dance. I did not need to find a girl of my age. Dance is a dance, nothing more.
Then I tried to bring together necessary English words in my mind,
When she was all-alone, I approached and said, in broken English,
“You- dance- with- me, Madam ??”
She said, “Yes”.
And we danced, although she was almost one foot taller than me. She hugged me, and we danced. More important than that, I had no idea how to dance.
Last week, we celebrated 40th year anniversary of our university.
I received my medal for my 30th year graduation.
We had our black tradtional coats; we walked in our stadium, sung our national anthem, as if we were new graduates. In 1968, we printed “Revolution” in big letters on the stairs of our stadium. It was our revolution stadium.
In those days, Joan BAEZ and her protest songs were very famous. We were listening to her every day, from loudspeakers of the newly constructed soccer stadium. I saw her live first time in Berlin in 1980s. Last year she was in Istanbul festival.
We learnt that it was now officially named as "Revolution" Stadium, our revolution in 1968. I believe that we shall listen to Joan Baez soon in one of graduation days in this stadium.
I saw my friends. Our girl friends are now happy grandmothers. Their grand daughters were very comfortable with their boyfriends. We are more tolerant compared to our mothers- and fathers.
Our university is now one of very reputable, very respected institutions, in our region. We have many successful businessmen, academicians, and politicians.
The ivory lady, Nicole Kidman, should be in her 70s now. My English is better I presume.
That was a great night, I had communicated with a foreign lady, in a foreign language. More important than that, it was my first dance.
That was Teo's story,
he then graduated, got many public posts, married twice, with two grown up kids, successful businessman in Ankara.