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The Road Less Chosen – A Book on Rural Development by Altan Unver, 2005

Altan Zeki Unver
Altan Zeki Unver

According to the latest census, there are over 32,000 villages in Turkey located in 3,200 Municipalities and 81 Provinces. It is well known that many people who move from villages to cities never cut their relations with their roots and either continue owning homes in the villages or visit regularly. While growing up in Safranbolu, our greatest joy was to visit Cal, a village near Eflani, where my maternal grandparents used to live before they moved to Istanbul but kept their home. During my many trips to Turkey in the last 15 years, I visited Cal several times and many other villages across Turkey, including Aknehir in Hatay last week, which is one of a few with a library. Villages are wonderful places to visit even though some are in poor shape.
One of the greatest triumphs of the early educators was to establish the ”Village Institutes”. Many authors have written about life in the villages, including Yakup Sabri Karaosmanoglu (Yaban) and Mahmut Makal (Bizim Koy.) Recently, the members of the TAC graduates were made aware of another author, Altan Unver, whose book “The Road Less Chosen”, published in 2005, is his personal account of Rural development in Turkey from 1965 to 2005.
Altan Unver, a graduate of Tarsus American College 1954 – 1957 and  Robert College in Istanbul, 1961, went to Texas for postgraduate work. He received B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering and M.A. degree in Economics between 1961-1965. After several jobs, including at Atlas Chemical in Wilmington, Delaware, Altan decided to return to Turkey. This is how he describes his decision in the introduction of his book:
“… I have not yet decided what to do upon returning to Turkey. Chemical engineering, lecturing, completing my military service, teaching at village schools and in addition to all that (or instead of all that) conducting voluntary work camps – all these are passing through my mind.. But regardless of the road taken, the aim is the same: to give Turkey some things from myself, be able to do something no matter how modest it maybe..”
The 150-page book describes in 2 parts the efforts of Altan Unver including the establishment of voluntary work camp movement in Turkey in 1958 while he was at Robert College. This is followed by the creation of “Social Service Club of Tarsus American College” in 1965, which paves the way to the establishment of  “Turkiye Kalkinma vakfi – Development Foundation of Turkey) in 1971. In Part II, selected examples of TKV’s field experience is given, including wheat improvement program, campaign against Varroa in beekeeping, poultry production program, livestock improvement model and others.
Yuksel Oktay
22 Agustos 2009

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