Neriman and Murat Gokden are originally from Turkey and were trained in anatomic pathology there. They are from the same medical school, where they met as classmates. That was 42.5 years ago! They came to the United States in the mid-1990s and trained at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, with subsequent fellowship training. They are both Professors in the Department of Pathology at UAMS. Neriman specializes in Genitourinary and Renal Pathology, and Murat in Neuropathology.
Where did you grow up?
We are both born and raised in the same city, Izmir (see picture below), a harbor city of now about five million people by the Aegean Sea, and the third largest city in Turkey.
What path led you to UAMS?
After repeating our pathology residencies in the U.S., Murat came to UAMS for his cytopathology fellowship in 1999 and was recruited as a faculty member by Dr. Aubrey Hough, Chair of Pathology at the time, after finishing his training. Neriman joined UAMS to complete the final year of her residency and was subsequently recruited also by Dr. Aubrey Hough as a faculty member, as well.
What is an example of a tradition unique to your culture?
While the daily living and lifestyle are not too different from what we have here now, and the food/cuisine is generally more Mediterranean in the West and more meat-heavy in the East, a few traditions/customs come to mind, although there is significant overlap with most Eastern cultures.
For instance, respect for elders and its expression is commonplace and prominent, such as standing up when they walk into a room (whether they are your parents, grandparents, or teachers), offering your seat to them on public transportation or in public places. Murat’s father was shocked when he heard that the class in medical school did not typically stand up when the professor walked into the auditorium. Although change is starting to take place in the society, many elders continue to live with their grown children and pass their values and traditions to their grandchildren. The saying is: No elder, no order!
The other big one is the emphasis on hospitality, so much so that whether a tourist visiting or a stranger who lost his/her way, they could be suffocated by attention and offerings, including lots of tea and Turkish coffee; you have to eat a lot if you go to someone’s house as a guest; or else! 😊