The Republic gave her the security to pursue a career in psychology.
Writer and psychologist Gündüz Vassaf wrote the biography of his mother Annem Belkıs (My Mother Belkıs, İletişim Yayınları) because of her interesting and pioneering life story that gives readers a glimpse into the foundational years of the Republic.
“My mother’s childhood years at the collapse of the Empire were not very different from those of other minorities of the Empire who suffered dislocation. Fleeing from terror in the Balkans, she was part of a mass exodus, and by the time she arrived in Izmir on a refugee boat she was an orphan. Terror followed her. Just as she was resettled in western Anatolia, occupying armies from Greece led to intermittent expulsions, flight and fear. Her sense of security and freedom as a young woman began with the Republic.
“For her generation, the Republic instilled a sense of an extended family, in which all bonded for a common purpose highlighted by the education of women. Rather than seeking a sense of equality with men, it was an understanding of a secular citizenship in pursuit of careers for service to the community. In my mother’s specific case she pursued her zest to learn, beginning with Koranic school at a young age in the outskirts of the Empire in Macedonia, and culminating in her postgraduate studies at Columbia, Smith, and Harvard, before returning to Turkey for teaching and research as a psychologist.
“Her education at ACG contributed to her life significantly. It was her sense of initiative and belief instilled at ACG that opened new perspectives.”
Published January 2024