Emel Erturer Anil

Profile Updated: April 7, 2016
Residing In: Istanbul Turkey
Spouse/Partner: Samim Anil -- married 1967
Children and grandchildren: Daughters - Elif, born September 1968; Ela, born April 1977
Grandkids - Sinan, born 1996; Canan More…born 2007. Derya born 2013.
Open Category for whatever you wish to tell about yourself in whatever way.

For me as a Turk, recent political developments in Turkey have been very painful. The current Islamic government no longer abides by the rule of law: Turkey has hit an unprecedented anti-democratic low. We secularists live in what I call liberated neighbourhoods. The country is totally divided but we hope it will be united again one day, and return to democracy

Further Comments about Spouse/Partner or Relationship history:

My husband-to-be and I had known each other for many years before I left Turkey for the States: Samim was a close boarding school friend of my brother's. When I returned to Turkey in 1966 he was working on an MA in Mechanical Engineering. We started dating, and marriage soon followed in 1967. Our first child, my daughter Elif, in was born in 1968.

Career History

Shortly after returning to Turkey, I got a job as an editor in Ankara’s only English-language daily. I took a year off when we moved away from Ankara in 1968, but I‘d caught the journalism bug,. When the Associated Press offered a position, we returned to Ankara. I started work on Sept. 1, 1969, the day Kaddafi overthrew Libya’s King Idris. The King was taking the waters in Turkey and I was involved in a big story on my first day in my new job.

In 1973 I became bureau chief when my American boss/mentor moved elsewhere. I was the AP’s first female foreign correspondent and bureau chief. When I felt safe enough (could they fire a pregnant correspondent?) I had my second daughter Ela in 1977. In 1980 we moved to Houston, Texas for two years, escaping escalating terrorism at home: Samim worked at Bechtel, but I could not find work in my field.

The AP came to the rescue again. Turkey was under military rule, and I was asked to return and take over the bureau. Much as I loved my job, by the time of the first Gulf War I was exhausted. I was responsible for all coverage of Turkey/northern Cyprus, and it was solitary work. I retired in 1991 after covering the war, and we moved to Istanbul.

What might surprise us about you or your activities?

I am an excellent cook, cooking traditional Turkish home cuisine as I learned it from my mother. I am also a good bridge player, and love to play any time I can. That's no surprise to my Swarthmore friends, but it's less run-of-the mill than it used to be.

Memories from time at Swarthmore

Swarthmore was not an easy time for me – I was a foreigner in what was then a very different country from my own, I had financial worries and had to work a lot, and I completed my Swarthmore degree in three years. But there were big plusses as well; the beauty of the campus, the friendships I made, and the fact that I learned to think clearly and write well. Some of the friendships have persisted every since, and the skills were critical to me as a journalist

Community Service, Volunteer Activities, Hobbies, Interests, Retirement Activities:

After a five years of retirement, I returned to work, at Turkey’s largest and most successful environmental NGO, TEMA. For the first several years, I traveled to every corner of the globe in this full time but voluntary job, representing TEMA in international environmental meetings. I slid into the easier position of publications advisor in 2002, and am now a board member. . TEMA is focusWhereed on soil protection but we have been involved in every environmental cause imaginable. Our legal department has won dozens of cases, mostly against the government.

I’ve translated four environmental books from English into Turkish.

Outside of this volunteer effort, my main interest is reading – in English and in Turkish, fiction and non-fiction, whatever whenever. I have also travelled a lot with my husband, around Turkey, in Europe and in China, and back to the U.S. where one of my daughters now lives. We spend a lot of time with family, which – combined with the reading and the other travel – doesn’t leave much time for other things

Books, Creative Products, Athletic Achievements:

As a journalist, I wrote thousands and thousands and thousands of stories, some of which made me very proud. I also did a lot of writing, and editing, when I was at TEMA.

Since retirement, I have translated four environmental books into Turkish. .

Spiritual Practice and Openings, if any?

Atheistic, and indeed quite anti-clerical. The incursion of religion into the public space in Turkey in recent years has been very hard for me.

Favorite quote, poem, humorous statement, or words of wisdom

Where is the wisdom we lost in knowledge, where is the knowledge we lost in information?

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Emel Ertürer Anil

Shiraz was a perfect gentleman. Being of ?ndian-Moslem origin, he was the only one on campus who greeted me with "Id mubarak" on Moslem holidays. Once, when I was in the infirmary, he came to visit with a little box of candy as a gift. A sign of "eastern" custom. May he rest in peace.

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Apr 06, 2016 at 10:12 AM

Posted on: Apr 06, 2016 at 12:25 AM

Ron, so pleased to hear from you. I too shall be at the reunion and looking forward to talking to you and Ann.

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