Where are you from?

I am from Turkey. I was born and raised in Turkey, but I come from a Crimean Tatar family who arrived in Turkey as refugees in the 1940s.

What was it like growing up?

I had a good childhood. I was fortunate to receive a good education, which allowed me to grow my world in every sense of the word. I lived in big cities, such as Ankara and Istanbul when I lived in Turkey. So I had never lived in a house with a yard until I came to the US.

What brought you to Cleveland?

My husband accepted a job at Cleveland State University and we relocated to Cleveland from Huntington, WV.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I first came to the US as a graduate student. I’ve always been interested in American culture. In fact, I minored in American Studies during my undergraduate study. The value of personal freedom in American culture has always attracted me. I came here to pursue a creative career and I was fortunate enough to succeed. I have lived here for the past seventeen years, a period of time during which I built my career and my family. I often say I was raised in Turkey, but I became an adult in the United States. 

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

Bureaucracy and paperwork are not my strengths. The biggest challenge for me was to navigate the system and to make sure that I was doing what I needed to do. 

What is your occupation?

I am a college professor. I teach Film, Television and Interactive Media production at Cleveland State University.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Cleveland is a wonderful community. We were fortunate enough to find so many different friends in the past eight years. My identity as a mother and an artist has allowed to meet so many others.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

Turkish food, literature, music are a part of our family life. We visit Turkey often, and also celebrate some of the Turkish holidays.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I love Cleveland’s diversity, both in terms of its population and lifestyle. All the cultural institutions, educational opportunities, a rich cultural heritage and access to beautiful parks are things I appreciate. I am grateful to Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Public Library and the Metroparks every time I visit their sites.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Our communities  get stronger and more interesting with diversity. Immigrants and refugees contribute to their communities by bringing different perspectives and culture among other things.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

The world is so much bigger than us. There is so much to to see, so much to learn. Traveling abroad allows us to not be limited by our own borders.