#22: Turkish students (1914)

At the time when we first became acquainted with the College in 1890 there were two young Turks among the students. There were also three Turks who were members of the Protestant Church in the city. Now and then along the years a Moslem youth entered the College, but they never stayed long till the new Regime manifested a change in public spirit. The general attitude of Turks was one of superiority toward all Christians, especially toward their *Rayah* subject nationalities. The authority of government officials frequently, and certainly their influence habitually, were opposed to allowing their Turkish youth to attend Christian institutions. We never made religious connection a condition of entrance to College, nor did we ever conceal facts from officials. But our Turkish friends feared we would give their sons pork to eat, without letting them know. They were afraid we would prevent students from going to mosque or even forbid their Mohammedan prayers on our premises. But shall any man forbid a fellow human being from worshipping God in his own way and that of his fathers? We assigned our Moslem students a room where they could repeat their prayers and offer their worship at any hour of day or night, and we made it easy for them to go to the mosque on Friday. As for pork, it was never served on our College tables and seldom on our own, in deference to the ruling sentiment in the country. Turkish boys, as they became accustomed to our school life, enjoyed it all very much, and were quite happy and at home with the other students.


At another time a young Turk came whose father was a tobacco merchant in Samsoun. He wanted to learn English, for they needed it in their business, and his ability to learn was unquestioned. Warned repeatedly by city officials to return to his home, he assented but did not go. Finally one day, near nightfall, he came and told me he was called to the government building. I told him he should go, but to inform me of the result as soon as he returned. But he did not return; instead, came a note in the evening asking for his bedding as he was to be detained over the night. I sent the things requested, and went to see the governor. He had retired to his harem, his family apartment, early, leaving orders not to be disturbed by anyone. In the morning the student sent a request for all his things, as he was to be sent to his home in Samsoun, under guard, without setting foot in the College again. This time the governor received me courteously when I called, and said he was warmly in favor of education, as I knew, and was a good friend of the College, but his orders were clear and strict; no young Moslem was to attend a Christian school; so he had no option, but to send our student to his home.

The first and only Turk to complete our course, Noureddin Pehliwanzade, entered College in 1909 and graduated in 1914, saying, "I want to serve my people". He was in every way a very acceptable student. In that last year before the Great War there were 20 Moslems in the College and several more in the Girls' School.

NEXT: The Great War begins (1914)