Where are you from? 

I am from Istanbul, Turkey

What was your childhood like? 

I grew up steps away from the sea, living with my family of 5, with 2 siblings. I was a tomboy, playing on the streets the whole day with a bunch of friends.

What brought you to Cleveland? 

My husband and I came to Cleveland in 2000, when he found his job after we were done with our Ph.D.’s in Michigan. I worked at a local university for a while and then started working in the private sector.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change? 

The United States would give me the chance for a better Ph.D. education but I did not have the intention to live in USA initially. The opportunities for a better education have prevailed over the immense longing for my birth country and we chose to stay for the education of my children so my initial thoughts in that sense have not changed.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here? 

The day-to-day use of the English language was one of the challenges, it took me quite a while to understand the phrase ‘For here or to go’ at fast-food restaurants for example. Missing my family and friends was –and is- the biggest hurdle for me. The culture is quite different, it might be difficult sometimes to find ways not to offend or not get offended.

What is your occupation? 

I am a chemical engineer and work as a product engineer at a company in Kent.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed? 

Clevelanders are always quick to greet when they run into you.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice? 

We celebrate certain holidays observed in Turkey by getting together with friends. The most important one is the Turkish Republic Children’s day on April 23rd which we have been celebrating with other international communities in the last two years where group of children perform traditional songs or dances. We intend to increase the number of participant countries in the coming years.

What do you love about Cleveland? 

Not the weather! I love the lake, although I wish I found more ways to enjoy it. Cuyahoga National Park, Playhouse Square, Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art are great assets. Downtown Cleveland changed tremendously in the last 16 years and we enjoy the restaurant scene more and more.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees? 

Every person we meet is a new experience in our life, immigrants and refugees are the best example for an even more enriched experience. A majority of them is here to have a better life and they work hard to make that happen for themselves and more so for their children, a society would only benefit from ambitious people.

Why is it important to travel abroad? 

Per the famous proverb: He who travels has stories to tell…