The author gives keynote at conference on nursing history.
With international travel comes the anxiety of logistical uncertainty. For RNL blogger Roger Watson, it also brings the wonderful rewards of meeting new and old friends.
ISTANBUL, Turkey—Arriving in Turkey can be anxiety provoking, as attested to by my virtually unbroken record of not being met here at airports. This was the third time it happened. Actually, I dislike being met at airports, preferring a destination address and local taxi service. Fewer things go wrong.
The worst scenario is arriving to find nobody among the line of awaiting drivers who bears a sign with your name. Without a destination and given the extreme difficulty of making an international call on my cellphone, I feel really stuck—as I did when I arrived this week in Izmir. With the help of the young lady at the information desk, I managed to contact a person from the travel office who assured me the driver was there—patently not the case—and that he was outside. I went outside, and he was not in sight, but eventually someone waving a sign with my name on it emerged from the airport. Because of my Turkish deficiency and my driver’s English deficiency, I was unable to ascertain why we missed each other. Anyway, as assured by local colleagues, “Don’t worry, you made it.”
Ege University—like me—was founded in 1955. Located in Izmir, Turkey, which is situated on the Aegean Sea, Ege (pronounced egg-ye, which means Aegean) University houses the largest school of nursing in the country. They have more than 3,000 undergraduate students, hundreds of master’s and doctoral students, and more than 1,000 faculty members.
I had been invited to give the opening keynote at their Third National and First International Nursing History Congress. I also delivered an afternoon workshop on writing for publication, which had 50 participants. The conference was truly international with contributions from the United Kingdom, Greece, Iran, Portugal, Palestine, and the United States.
Turkey continues to experience political change, but the area where Izmir is located is fiercely loyal to Atatürk, the father of the nation, and portraits of him adorn every room. The Turkish border with Syria continues to be disputed, and the Turkish economy has been considerably weakened in recent years. But the spirit of the Turkish people, and especially Turkish nurses, seems unyielding. They are rightly proud of their country and their legendary hospitality to visitors. You may be abandoned at an airport, risk death in any kind of transport, and find the language incomprehensible, but you will never starve and will rarely be without a cup of Turkish coffee or tea in one hand and a delicious piece of Turkish delight in the other.
My fitness regime has faltered due to a running-acquired injury, and the recent assault on my digestive system in Turkey has set my program back by weeks. But it’s all in the line of duty, and, as I remind my colleagues, “Someone has to do it.”
The two best aspects of traveling are mirror images—meeting new friends and meeting old friends. I was very pleased to meet the dean of nursing at Ege University, Fisun Senuzun Akyar, PhD, RN. Amongst the old friends were PhD student Gulcan Taskiran, MN, RN, whom I met in 2017 on a previous visit to Turkey, and longtime friend retired Col. Sevgi Hatipoglu, PhD, RN. Formerly of the Turkish army and founder of the first army nursing school in Turkey, she is a highly respected figure here. She recalled our first meeting many years ago when my second daughter had just joined the British Army.
I return to Hull briefly before going to Edinburgh next week to advise at Edinburgh Napier University on their Research Excellence Framework strategy, then to London to deliver a keynote at the Beta Gamma Sigma Global Leadership Summit and to attend my first meeting as a committee member of the National Conference of University Professors.
Haiku writing continues. Editors of the Living Haiku Anthology have seen fit to give me a page. Take your pick, but I was quite pleased with:
at the junction
only my mood changes
Blithe Spirit 28.2, May 2018
Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of JAN and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s former blog “Hanging smart.” You can also listen to this post as a podcast.