For Ankara, Turkey, native Bilge Gökhan Çelik, being far from home can be tough. But the assistant professor of construction management has found a niche in Bristol that is bringing him back to his roots. Thanks to his sustainable construction and design expertise, Çelik, along with a group of interdisciplinary faculty, has been tapped to coordinate the University’s efforts to create a study abroad course in Turkey with an emphasis on sustainability studies. The opportunity has brought him closer to home both here and abroad.
WORLD TRAVELER: Çelik, who was born in California where his father was attending postgraduate naval school as a member of the Turkish Navy, loves to travel. His favorite destination? “Istanbul! It’s an amazing city where two continents come together. You can have a cup of tea in Asia and wave to people in Europe.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME: “RWU has been very sensitive to the nuances of my name,” says Çelik, who has become accustomed to butchered spellings and pronunciations since arriving in the U.S. Perhaps more interesting than the umlaut and cedilla that adorn his name is its legacy. Gökhan – meaning “sky (gök) king (khan)” – has a niece, Göksu (“sky water”), who he remains close with via Skype chats as often as possible.
MUSIC OF THE HEART: A talented musician with a small in-home recording space, Çelik says that music helps him feel closer to home. “I listen to a lot of Turkish music. It’s popular music, but you can still hear that authentic sound. I do listen to American popular music, but I’m not as emotional about it.”
NO RECIPE REQUIRED: “I don’t like following directions for some reason,” says Çelik, whose profession requires him to follow rules precisely at all time. Not so in cooking, one of Çelik’s passionate pastimes. “It’s like vacation. I follow directions and instructions all the time, and I teach people how to. But when it comes to cooking I like changing things a little bit, so I can make everything a little bit of my own.”