Heidi Trautmann

567 - Creative People living in our midst - Ferdiye Ersoy-Reynier, PhD


From the girl playing ‘Yakantop’ in a suburb of Nicosia to the TRNC Cultural Attachée in Paris


by Heidi Trautmann


Education, the tool to eliminate borders


The title says it all. The tool is available to all of us, to adults and to children, we just have to say: I want to know more and I want to do it better. Quality education.

One day I needed to have some poems translated and I was recommended to try C-Quals – Cyprus Quality Education and Language, and this is how I met Ferdiye Ersoy. C-Quals was founded by Ferdiye Ersoy with 25 years of experience in quality education and language teaching. The C-Quals building is close to the British Cemetery in Kyrenia, a charming place, the rooms radiate efficiency. There is another C-Quals Centre in Nicosia-Marmara just being opened specializing on language but also on teacher and manager training among others.

My first impressions - and my curiosity - led me to ask Ferdiye Ersoy for the opportunity of an interview and so it came that we sat together in her office that also serves her as a personal teaching room. Ferdiye Ersoy-Reynier is a slim French style woman, looking young and active, with alert eyes, a no-nonsense woman but with a feminine charming smile. She is married to a Frenchman and has two children, a boy and a girl.

“I was born in Nicosia in 1964, we, my parents and one sister and one brother, lived in the Marmara district which is south of the General Hospital, it is the same building which we are now using for the new C-Quals Centre. In the days of my childhood, Marmara was a very quiet area and we kids – the kids from the neighbourhood - played in the street, we loved to play ‘Yakantop’ which is similar to Volleyball.”

I know the area and its history quite well from an interview I had conducted with Vedia Alkaş, mom of Osman Alkaş, the today famous actor, I tell her.

“Oh, they are our direct neighbours, Osman Abi was some years older than us, too old to play with us! My first school years were close by in Ortakoy. Happy childhood years. I loved going to school. We had good class teachers, sensitive teachers building up our self-confidence. I was a good student and I thought when I do my best and get good marks I will one day become a professor,  that was in my imagination the highest degree for an adult person.” 

Those must have been hard years for your family between 1963 and 1974, did it have any impact on you, I asked.

“Not really, I had my own little world and was safe within my family, although I heard one or the other thing which made me think deep: why do they always have to fight. I had learnt that, when I was born, my father could not be with my mother, he was on soldier’s duty in the Beşparmak Mountains, and it was too dangerous for him to get through; my father worked for Bayrak Radio as an engineer; I remember that he took us to the Greek quarter of Nicosia once in a while in his blue Opel, but we did not get out, just to see how the others lived.”

What did you do besides homework and playing games with your friends, did you read a lot?

“When I continued my school education at Turk  Maarif  College… we had to study hard, the teachers demanded a lot ….. but yes, I remember that my father kept the Readers’ Digest which I loved reading, it was my first serious English reading matter. We had English and French lessons by native speaking teachers, I often think of our French teacher, it was M.Culas, he was an employee at the French Embassy, who took his job very seriously.”

Here, Ferdiye laughs. What is so funny, I ask.

“Just imagine, one of our first examinations in French was disastrous, he wanted us to name famous French cheese makes which we all did not know, we had never seen nor tasted one, I had the nerve to write down Cheddar, which caused him to fall into utter despair…under his wings we had from that time on the best education in French language and culture. My love for the language and French culture originates from that time.”

I am sure that today she knows the best brands of cheese you can find in France. What subjects were your preference?

“I was all for sciences, Maths, Chemistry and the like but I loved also languages and the knowledge we gained about the culture of the country as well. It had impressed me deeply. In class IV of my Maarif College years I finished all necessary exams for the application for scholarship as my parents had decided that I should continue my education in England and they enlisted me in a well-established Boarding School, the Benenden School in Kent.”

I looked the school up and learnt that it is a very cost intensive private school for girls from 11-18 years of age, a sort of elite school, the same level as Eton.

“The choice of this school was financially hard on my parents but it was to be a quality education for me and I must say, I owe the school and these years in Kent a lot, although right at the beginning when I came from Cyprus with my parents who brought me, I was totally shocked.”

Why were you shocked, I asked.

“Look, here was I, a girl of 15 years from a street in Marmara District playing Yakantop with the neighbours’ kids and then all of a sudden I moved among the offspring of royal families or other high society background. I literally had to learn from scratch how to move, to speak, to act in all kind of situations I was confronted with. Our uniform was navy blue and a white shirt and a green tie. It was a more than solid basis for my future life. There were all sorts of social and sports activities offered but most of them I could not participate in as they were too expensive; but I chose Yoga, something I had never heard of before in Cyprus, it was one of the cheaper activities. I must tell you one more thing, I was a member of the choir and once we went to sing in the Canterbury Cathedral the great choir music ‘Carmina Burana’.”

Did you have family in England?

“Yes, I had, and occasionally I visited them and spent some days with them….and that was another shock for me, a sort of reverse shock; like cold and hot, an emotional rollercoaster, from strict English behaviour to a very casual Cypriot way of enjoying family and life, two cultures that clashed. But it shaped my personality forever.”

After graduation from College you continued your further education at University. What subjects did you decide on?

“I enrolled at the Institute of Education, London University and after five years I made my Masters degree in English Language and Literature with Pedagogy. The theme of my PhD work is ‘Turkish Cypriot students on the periphery of Europe’, a work on identity. After that I also did a semester at Oxford University on Gender Studies. Looking back, my university life was again a shock for me, all of a sudden it was complete freedom, no rules and regulations, only I made the rules. In the beginning I felt rather lost. But soon I learnt how to make full use of all the cultural activities.”


In 1988 you returned home to Cyprus with your degrees in your pocket. What happened next?

“I started work at the Eastern Mediterranean University in Famagusta as English teacher but after six months I left Cyprus again to get married and leave for France to live in Paris.” You had met your husband in England during your University years?

“Yes, I did; life in Paris was again a completely different world for me, exciting and inciting; we had a flat near the Opera, what an adventure….to walk along Boulevard Haussman, to shop in Les Galleries Lafayette. I started work at ‘L’Ecole des Beaux Arts’ as English teacher. I bathed in the luxury of French culture but I never forgot my Cypriotness. When we travelled home to Cyprus one summer, I met with Mr. Rauf Denktaş and as he saw my eagerness in promoting culture, he issued a recommendation and the Council of Ministers appointed me as the TRNC Representative in France and Cultural Attachée.”

Ferdiye Ersoy speaks French fluently. It must have been the dream job for her, promoting North Cyprus.

“It was! Who knew our country, nobody; nobody really cared, so it was a pioneer’s work. I brought artists, especially musicians, to and fro, we invited French musicians to come and perform at Bellapais Abbey, they were most willing and did not charge much, and we brought Cypriot artists to Paris, for example Rüya Taner, our pianist, and Turgay Hilmi; TRNC folkdance groups were showing our traditional dances and also a photographic exhibition of President Denktaş. We also invited the Director of the Culture and Congress Centre to North Cyprus to show him the beauty of our country and to meet Mr. Denktaş. It was a good time.”

This took place in those years when Yilmaz Taner established the Bellapais Music Festival, about 15 years ago.

“We stayed in Paris for nine years. Two children were born to us and I was thinking more and more of my family in Cyprus. I thought we should not deprive our children of their Cypriotness in their genes, so we decided to move to Cyprus in 1998.”

 “Yes, we settled in Cyprus again, had a house and were surrounded by our families and friends; I got a good job at Girne American University where over a period of 13 years I was first appointed as Lecturer and Vice Director, then Director of the School of Foreign Languages. I have also been active as President of the ‘Turkish Cypriot Association of University Women’.”


Then, there came a time when I wanted a change, a new approach, a new road to go in my life and the opportunity arose to open ‘C-Quals’, and this is where we are sitting now. I am very proud of the creation of a system with a difference.”

An educational system with a difference; an ambitious target born out of Ferdiye’s experience in her active years abroad, the nation needs to speak languages and these properly, translations must be of quality if a recognition and respect for the work done is expected. North Cyprus is opening up to all tongues of the world now with tourism increasing, with a growing awareness abroad, people should be prepared. That means that students must be prepared when they intend to study abroad, teachers must be trained to satisfy the growing demand for quality; business managers should be fluent in the tongue of their partners.

“But, it is not our aim to teach the language alone, it is the culture of the country that goes with it, it is not only the accent one has to master but also the knowledge of the cultural assets; such combined knowledge will promote worldwide cooperation and dialogue. Turkish Cypriots must become diplomats of their country, and a good diplomat knows the ways of the country visited.”


Ferdiye Ersoy has included a wide spectrum in her educational agenda, she has established partnerships with the British Council, the Institut Français, the Pilgrims Language Courses, is partner with Manchester United Football Schools, Oxford Teachers’ Academy and many more. Apart from the educational programmes, quality translations are offered in several languages and preparation for conferences are done. Last year Ferdiye organized the ‘Fête de la Musique’ in cooperation with the ‘Institut Francais’ at the House and Garden in Kyrenia and many more cultural events with the francophone society in North Cyprus and the Institut Francais.  I cannot name all what is offered so I recommend our readers to visit ‘CQuals’ website which you find below.

I am asking Ferdiye for a concluding message:

“It is not the language alone, ‘à Rome, faites comme les Romains’; I want to show my students the way the British do, how the French do. I have lived there and I know what I am speaking about. Education has no limits and knows of no borders. We must open up and embrace other cultures, understanding each other will improve and prejudices will be eliminated.”

Thank you Ferdiye!


www.cquals.com Tel. 0392 815 40 10 and 0392 22 75 783




Ferdiye and her mother at their house in Marmara district
Ferdiye and her mother at their house in Marmara district

Ferdiye and her father and brother Musa and the blue Opel
Ferdiye and her father and brother Musa and the blue Opel

Ferdiye in school, here playing the accordeon
Ferdiye in school, here playing the accordeon

Benenden in Kent - her life in boarding school
Benenden in Kent - her life in boarding school

Ferdiye in her Benenden school uniform
Ferdiye in her Benenden school uniform

Ferdiye and the free life of university
Ferdiye and the free life of university

GRaduation Day! Ferdiye received her MA degree from HRH Anne
GRaduation Day! Ferdiye received her MA degree from HRH Anne

2011: Introducing a group of young French musicians in the Büyük Han
2011: Introducing a group of young French musicians in the Büyük Han

With a group of young Cypriots in Paris in summer 2012
With a group of young Cypriots in Paris in summer 2012

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