2523) Armenian Professor, Who Is In Love With Turkey

© This content Mirrored From  armenians-1915.blogspot.com Hamparsum Bozdogan, one of the Turkish Armenians, who is a worldwide statistician, displayed his loyalty to Kayseri, which he left when he was eight, by organizing an international conference. An extraordinary story of a professor, who is in love with Turkey…

“I consider Kayseri as my homeland although I have been living in the USA since 1964. I expressed my love to my country at every platform, and I protected Turkish students, who came to America, as much as I could. I will continue my studies at this direction. And I am organizing an international conference at Kayseri to express my devotion.”

Prof. Dr. Hamparsum, a Turkish Armenian who had gone to the USA for educational reasons and has never lost his longing for Turkey, is a voluntary education envoy. Bozbogan, who teaches statistics at McKenzie Chair of the Tennessee University, is a worldwide statistician, who is in love with Turkey. Prof. Dr. Bozdogan, who was born as the fifth child of a moderate family in Kayseri in 1945, is famous with the formulas, that were improved by him, and to which his name were given.

Organizing international conferences in Turkey, protecting Turkish students, who go to the USA and accepting the invitations from the Turkish universities under every circumstances, arises from his love towards his homeland. “International Data Mining Conference”, which will be held in Kayseri in June 19th, is his latest attempt. We talked with Hamparsum about his childhood memories in Kayseri, the USA, where he went for education and lived for 50 years and Turkey-Armenia relations, which he is hopeful of its future.

Hamparsum was born in a single-room house in Kayseri/ Atpazari in 1945. The origin of his family was from Felâhiye. He learns how to read and write when he was three thanks to his sister Meline. His family was hopeful that he would have education. Nevertheless, his father Bedros Bozdogan, who was known as Brick men Ahmet Çavus,, was cautious. He takes his son to brick mines to help his son perceive the difficulties of working and support him to gain his self confidence in his summer holidays.

His mother Heyna (Henna) was convinced though not willing to: “My father Bedros used to produce bricks to be used at the train stations during the World War II. When I was living in Kayseri he used to wake me up at five o’clock in the morning and take me to the brick mine. He was in an effort of showing the difficulties of working, and encouraging me for educating. He used to help me do simple accountancy works and gave me pocket money. In fact, those were the days when scarcity was being experienced within the country. I gained my self confidence at that brick mine. Later, that self confidence led me to be successful at the academic field. I always felt gratitude for my father, whom I lost in 1981, when he was 74, for this. The two brothers of Bozdogan are currently in America; all the others live in Istanbul/ Bakrköy now.

Hamparsum would not fail the expectations of his family, when he starts primary school education at Istiklal Kayseri Primary School. Because he knew how to read and write, he becomes the most brilliant and model student of the class. An assistant of Armenian Patriarch Karekin Khachadourian, who comes for a visit to Kayseri when he was three, changes the destiny of Hamparsum. “My teachers used to come to our house and advice my family to give me an opportunity to educate. I was always at the honor list. One day, they told that an assistant of Armenian Patriarch Karekin Khachadourian came to Kayseri. Those days, they were taking the successful Armenian children to Istanbul for equipping them with education. We went to the assistant of the Patriarch with my brother Kirkor (Sahin), who was attending the Talas American College. When he saw my report card, he registered me to Istanbul Karagözyan Armenian Primary School. Because I was only eight years old, my family did not send me to Istanbul by myself. I cried for a week when I learned that couple of my friends was going to Istanbul. In the end, we convinced them with my brother and went to Istanbul.”

Hamparsum continues his education at Karagözyan Armenian School in Istanbul from the 4th grade on. He learns Armenian at this term of his life as the second language. He also learns French thanks to his teacher Mari Sarafyan, who was a graduate of Sorbonne. Later, he continues his education at Feriköy Junior High School and Atatürk High School. He graduates from these schools with a high degree. He wins a scholarship due to his success. Bozdogan family, which is consisted of four girls and two boys, migrates to Istanbul. “When I was eight, I left Kayseri as a youngster, who was seen off with sorrow. Later, my family immigrated to Istanbul in the price of leaving their good neighbors behind. Though, my cousin’s wife had become my second mother in Istanbul. I always visit them when I come to Turkey. She had taken pains with me.”

When Hamparsum Bozdogan is graduated from the high school in 1964, he attempts to find a way for going to the USA for higher education, where his seven years older brother Kirkor inhabits. In a short time, he reaches his desire too. He starts his education at the department of mathematics t Wisconsin University. Kalust Gülbenkyan Fund supports him with a bursary. He gradutes from the university in 1970; and in 1975, he starts his masters Degree on mathematics in Chicago/ Illinois. Same year, Hamparsum was nominated for TÜBITAK NATO Science bursary. However, his school he refuses TUBITAK, when his school offers him bursary in return of acting as an assistantship.

In 1978, he gives his doctoral examination on “Multi Dimensional Statistical Modeling”. He continues his academic career on statistic at Virginia University. He moves to Japan with his wife and two sons in order to study with Japanese Professor Hirotugu Akaike in 1988. He continues his academic studies in this country for one year: “In fact, I wanted to educate medicine. Medical education was expensive those days and I had no money. Bursaries were helping me for my education. I was a successful student and it was not hard for me to find bursaries. Currently I am studying on statistics but the problems I study upon reach until the medicine. For instance, the formulas that are presented by us are used in calculating cancerous cell.”

During his years at the Wisconsin University, he realizes that the students, who came from Turkey, were experiencing an adaptation problem like him. His efforts for solving the problem take him to the Turkish-American Student Association. The main goal of the Association was to help the students, who come from Turkey. Bozdogan takes an active role at this formation; and he also acts as a president at this association for two years. During the following years, he continues to take an active part at similar organizations in order to help students, who come from Turkey. Hamparsum helped Turkish students when he was teaching. He also helped and supported workers, who came from Turkey for working. Some students had made their doctoral studies with him. He not only supports the ones who go to America but the ones who study in his field in Turkey, as well.

Assistant Professor Eylem Deniz Akinci, a lecturer at the department of Mimar Sinan University, is one of the students that were helped for completing her doctoral studies by Hamparsum. She had met Hamparsum after she sent an e-mail on her doctoral thesis. Later Hamparsum had become her closest consultant on every issue: “He supported me a lot on the completion of my doctoral thesis. I will be continuing my post-doctoral studies next year in Tennessee University owing to the invitation letter that was sent by Hamparsum. I know that his support is not limited only with me. The conference that will be organized in the leadership of Hamparsun, is also very significant. Many scientists from 16 countries will be coming to Turkey and they will study on the common projects.”

Hamparsum decides to organize an international conference in Kayseri following an interesting occurrence. In 2005, he meets Mehmet Özhaseki, the Mayor of Kayseri, with his wife on a train on his way to Italy/ Bressanone, where he would deliver a speech. Özhaseki advices Hamparsum to organize an international conference in Kayseri for introducing Kayseri, after a warm talk on Kayseri and he adds that these kinds of organizations can be supported. Starting his effort on the mentioned day, Hamparsum takes the fruits of his attempts after three years: “I have lived in the USA for long years, but I could never manage to forget Kayseri/ Turkey. I always targeted to produce projects that would be useful for my country. That’s why this project is very important for me. I hope I will be paying my debt to Kayseri, where I had live until 8 years old. Who would imagine that this kind of a conference would come out when two persons from Kayseri meet?”

International Data Mining Conference, which is due to be held in Kayseri during 19-23 June under the host of Assistant Professor M. Emin Yüksel from Erciyes University and at the co-presidency of Hamparsum, is the first of its kind in Turkey. “Data mining” will be examined and grounds for studying mutually will be searched among the Turkish and foreign scientist at the conference, in which almost 120 academician would participate from 16 separate countries leading the USA and Europe. Hamparsum briefs the goal and context of the conference with the following sentences: “The relations between “human-machine-computer” (data processing) inevitably come out at the enterprises of our day. “Statistical data or data mining” undertakes a significant role at bringing solution to the operational problems. The field of data mining includes basics like statistics, information on machines, data, and high performance operation. Data mining, where analyzed data is applied at the computer by using statistical models, includes many fields like engineering, industrial, biology, economy, medicine and psychology. Data mining, which is extremely new in Turkey, will be examined in Kayseri during the conference.”

Hamparsum, who has gone to Kayseri in 2006 for the first time after 50 years, finds the neighborhood, where his childhood had passed. He feels like finding a part of him, which he had lost. He visits his house which was ruined. He finds his childhood friend Sadan Dogan: “Finding my friends after 50 years made me happy. Both of us returned to our childhood for three days long. We continuously talked about our memories. I grow impatient to meet Sadan again this summer.” He finds a chance to visit his high school, Atatürk High School, in Istanbul in 2007. Hamparsum: “I entered to my classroom again after 45 years and sat on my chair. I felt the old days at that moment. The writings on the board were as if was left from my years of education. My eyes got wet…”

We ask Hamparsum questions apart from his life and academic field. We ask questions about the future of the relation between Turkey and Armenia. He starts his words by saying that both he nor his family was exposed to a bad treatment during the period they lived in Turkey and he adds: “We never had any difficulties. On the contrary, they loved us in our neighborhood and school. I am hopeful regarding the relations between the two countries. A peaceful way may be found although the two countries have opposing opinions about each other. Only by this way we will manage to be rescued from the heavy chains of the history. Mutual history presents a serious obligation to the two nations. The leaders should come together and work for the solution. The seeds of peace should be sprinkled over the young generations. I expect those days hopefully. Or history will not forgive both parties.”

Prof. Hamparsum Bozdogan has currently 9 books and more than 50 articles at his field. He attends doctoral lessons at Tennessee University. Prof. Dr. Bozdogan stated that his two books will be published in Turkish following the conference in Kayseri. Currently, he targets to establish a department on statistics and data mining at a university in Turkey. He notes that he does not consider coming back to Turkey soon, but he will continue protecting Turkish children.

Source: Aksiyon Magazine-17.06.2008

Turkish-Armenian professor arranges international conference in Kayseri
© This content Mirrored From  armenians-1915.blogspot.com

"I still see Turkey as my actual country. I have expressed my love for my country on every platform and have helped Turkish students in the US. Additionally, I arranged the Kayseri conference as a way of showing thanks."

Professor Bozdoğan often volunteers as an educational envoy and frequently visits Turkey, the country he left 50 years ago to go to the US and get an education. He lectures on statistics at the University of Tennessee. Professor Bozdoğan, the fifth child of a middle class family, is a professor famous for formulas he developed, formulas now named after him.

His love for Turkey has led him to arrange international conferences in Turkey, to never turn down invitations from Turkish universities and to help students who have come from Turkey to the US to study. The "International Data Mining Conference," held on June 19 in Kayseri, was the latest conference he organized. We spoke with Professor Bozdoğan about his childhood memories, the US and Turkish-Armenian relations, about which he is hopeful.

Father served in army
Bozdoğan was born in a one-room apartment in Kayseri's Atpazarı district in 1945. His family is originally from Felahiye, another district of Kayseri. Meline, his sister, taught him how to read and write when he was only 3 years old. He was to receive a good education, his whole family agreed; however, his father, Bedros Bozdoğan, known as "Brick Maker Sgt. Ahmet" was keen on taking his son to the brick kiln during the summer when school was out in order to show his son the hardships of working and to gain self-confidence. His mother, Heyna (also known as Henna), reluctantly agreed. "My father used to make bricks for the army to be used in train stations during World War II. During the time I lived in Kayseri, he used to wake me up early in the morning and take me to the kiln. He showed me the difficulties of working and encouraged me to study. He asked me to keep track of accounts and gave me a small amount of money when there was a famine in the country and we had ration books. I developed self-confidence in that brick kiln. This confidence brought me success in academia. That is why I have always been grateful to my father, who died in 1981 at the age of 74." Two of Bozdoğan's siblings now live in the US and three in İstanbul's Bakırköy district.

‘Patriarch's deputy changed my life’
Bozdoğan did not disappoint his family when he began classes at Kayseri İstiklal Elementary School. He became the brightest student as he already knew how to read and write. A visit by a deputy of the patriarch to Kayseri when Bozdoğan was in third grade changed the course of his life. "My teachers often came and told my parents to send me to school for more education since I was quite successful at school. One day I heard that one of the assistants of Armenian Patriarch Karekin Khachadourian was in Kayseri. Successful Armenian children were in those times being taken to İstanbul for further schooling. I went to the Armenian Church with my brother, Kirkor [Şahin], who was a student at the Talas American College then, to see the patriarch's deputy. Upon seeing my report card he immediately registered me for İstanbul Karagözyan Armenian Elementary School without asking a single question. However, at the beginning my family did not want me to go to İstanbul alone as I was just 8 years old. I cried for a week when I heard that some of my friends were also going to İstanbul. In the end, I persuaded them with my brother and then left for İstanbul."

Professor Bozdoğan continued his education at Karagözyan Armenian Elementary School from fourth grade on. He learned Armenian as a second language and French thanks to his teacher Mari Sarafyan, a graduate of the Sorbonne, during this period. Then he went to Feriköy Secondary School and the Atatürk High School for boys. He successfully completed these schools and received scholarships. During this period, the Bozdoğan family, with four girls and two boys, moved to İstanbul. Their longing for their son was at this point unbearable. "I left Kayseri with grief just like a soldier when I was 8. Then my family came to İstanbul to end this bitter grief," Bozdoğan says.

Having completed his high school education in 1964, Bozdoğan looked for ways of going to the US to pursue a higher education where his brother, seven years older than him, was studying. He found a way and soon began his education at the University of Wisconsin's department of mathematics. He received his undergraduate degree in 1970, supported by the Kalust Güşbenkyan fund. Having completed his university education, he started his graduate studies at the University of Illinois's department of mathematics. He was nominated for the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) NATO Science Scholarship, but accepted the assistantship his department offered.

Turkish-American student association chair
After receiving his Ph.D. in multivariate statistical modeling, Professor Bozdoğan continued his career in statistics at the University of Virginia. While an associate professor he decided to move to Tokyo with his family to work with Japanese Professor Hirotugu Akaike and lived there for a year. "Actually, I wanted to study medicine; however, medical school was too costly for me since I completed my education with scholarships. Now, I engage in statistics and the problems I handle reach out to the field of medicine. For instances, the formulas we have put forward are being used in the calculation of cancerous cells," Bozdoğan says. During his years at the University of Wisconsin, he saw students coming from Turkey experienced problems adapting -- not unlike himself. To help with this, he took on the presidency of the Turkish Students Association at the university, whose main purpose was to help students coming from Turkey, following the completion of his graduate studies in 1970. He held the presidency of this association for two years and took on roles in similar projects in the following years. Professor Bozdoğan always supports Turkish students studying in the US in addition to helping those who study in the same field in Turkey. Eylem Deniz Akıncı, an assistant professor at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, is one of the academics he helped complete her doctorate. Akıncı says: "He contributed significantly to my doctorate thesis. I am also going to have the chance to continue my post-doctoral studies at the University of Tennessee with the scholarship I won thanks to the letter of invitation Professor Bozdoğan sent me. The conference he organized in Kayseri is also of great importance. A number of scientists came to Turkey and are working on joint projects."

Two fellow townsmen meet on a train
Professor Bozdoğan decided to organize the international conference after an interesting coincidence. He met Kayseri Mayor Mehmet Özhaseki while traveling to the Italian city of Brixen for a conference. After a warm chat about Kayseri, the mayor suggested he put together an international conference in Kayseri and said that he would support such an endeavor. Bozdoğan then started working on this project from that time on and his efforts bore fruit three years later. "I lived in the US for many years but I have never forgotten Kayseri and Turkey. I have always wanted to work on projects that would be beneficial for my country. That is why this conference is meaningful for me. It is an opportunity for me to show my gratitude to my hometown. Who would have guessed that such a conference would be held upon the meeting of two fellow townsmen on a train?" Bozdoğan says.

In 2006 Bozdoğan visited Kayseri for the first time since leaving 50 years ago. He went to the neighborhood and house where he spent his childhood and found his childhood friend Şadan Doğan. "It was a great pleasure for me to find my childhood friend after 50 years. We spoke about the days we spent together during the three days we met. I look forward to seeing him again this summer." Professor Bozdoğan also had the opportunity to visit his high school in İstanbul. "I entered my classroom, sat on my chair 45 years since last sitting on it… It took me back to those days."

Apart from his life story and academic field, we also asked Professor Bozdoğan about the future of Turkish-Armenian relations. He begins by noting that neither he nor his family were exposed to ill-treatment during the time they lived in Turkey. "We never faced any problems. On the contrary, we were well liked at school and in the neighborhood. I am hopeful about Turkish-Armenian relations. Although the two countries have completely dissimilar ideas, a way for peace can be found. The leaders should come together and work to find a solution. New generations should grow up with seeds of peace. I am longing for those days. Otherwise, history will never forgive either side."

Professor Bozdoğan has published nine books and over 50 articles. He continues to lecture at the University of Tennessee. He is planning on starting up M.A. and Ph.D. programs in the field of statistics and data mining in Turkey. He says he will continue to support Turkish students, though he does not plan to return to Turkey.
Kayseri Mayor Mehmet Özhaseki: We will continue cooperating with our professor
"I met Professor Bozdoğan while traveling on a train. My friends and I were reading books and seeing the books, his wife understood that we were Turks. She then came to our compartment with her husband. 'Merhaba,' he said to us. We chatted for a while and I told him I was the mayor of Kayseri. He spoke warmly about Turkey and Kayseri. His family is a well-known family in Kayseri. We kept in contact since our meeting on that train, and I introduced him to several academics from Kayseri as he is also a well-known academic. We will continue to cooperate with Professor Bozdoğan. I am glad to have met one of my friendly fellow townsmen," Özhaseki says.

09 July 2008, Mesut Çevikalp Istanbul - Zaman


( London, United Kingdom said...

I love Hamparsum Bozdogan.

He is one of the few Armenians with no hatred towards Turkey or Turkish people!

We, Armenians, should learn from him, and share love, instead of spreading hate around!

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