My legal family and I immigrated to the United States from Turkey when I was nine years old. Compared to the living standards, education, economic freedom, etc, in Turkey there is a big gap between the US. There are so many opportunities granted to citizens of the US and just by having a US passport people recognize you as a superior outside the country.
First day of school in third grade, I stepped inside my class without speaking a word of English. The class was predominantly Spanish people but I did not know that back then and I felt okay given that we had similar skin color. Later I figured that my family and I were living in bad areas of city. This meant that I was growing around gangs, violence, drugs and every so often I would see my town would appear on the news. I was actually angry at news sources that made our town look like a complete shit hole because we were minorities. While the town next to us were predominantly white and I would always hear “good news” about the town. For example pumpkin picking, car wash donations, etc. We would have similar events but it would rarely receive attention from the news.
My family’s social class was probably at the bottom of the hierarchy compared to the average middle class. My father worked as a delivery man for a pizza restaurant on minimum wage and my mother was a housewife. My father was highly skilled in fixing refrigerators, ovens, etc but he could not get a job in the field he wanted due to his status in the country. According to U.S. Census revealed that in 1990 there were more than 2.5 million highly educated immigrants from developing countries above the age of 25. Especially migrants coming from Asia, the Middle East to the United States tend to be more educated than the average person in the sending country.” My parents were one of these people but they never had the opportunity to pursue what they wanted to. This was also affected by gender role or common tradition back home, men worked while women took care of the house and kids. This was similar to the breadwinner-homemaker family, “an employed father, a non employed mother and their children.” Like the book the stated it “provided stability and cooperation” through specific roles of the husband and the wife. However it did not take a long time until my mother started working in the US given that one persons income could not fulfill the needs of an entire family in the US. This was a decision that would later help my sister and I go to college and pursue higher education.
On the other hand my family and I knew that we were doing a lot better then in our time in Turkey. I was going to school to learn English and pursue a degree in something I found interesting whereas in Turkey you’d be lucky to go university and they choose your career based on your score from one really difficult exam. According to census data of educational attainment in the US in 2015 only 31.4 foreign born students receive a bachelors degree while native born is 32.7. These are relatively close numbers and it indicates that foreign born students realize the importance of education and the opportunities in the US then native born students. According to race statistic the chart identifies that 53.9 percent of Asian students receive bachelors degree. I was actually not surprised by this statistic because of how I was discipline. It was definitely more strict, I would go to school, finish my homework, study for tests and quizzes and then do whatever I wanted to for the little time I had left.
Another benefit of being a US citizen helped me post pone my military duty for Turkey. As of age 21, I am suppose to be scouted by Turkish military and complete 13 month training camp. Whereas in the US, you volunteer to join the army. I would be honored to serve the Turkish or US army if they fought for good reasons.
Another important difference between the two countries was religion. My family and I are Muslims, but we were also minorities in Turkey because we were part of the Alevis. There are approximately 2 million people who follow the same religion in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. In fact the main reason of the war in Syria is because of the division between these two branches of Islam. The Turkish president who is a Sunni supported the oppression against our community. This was one of the reasons why we made a choice to leave Turkey. As it recalled in the book the state is suppose to regulate behavior through political means and control violence but the government was corrupt and it allowed violence towards our community without intervening. The state was one the reason s why we fled our country. They were prejudice against the Alevis and rarely did you find someone working for the government who was an Alevi.
Akpinar, Sebnem. Turkish Highly Skilled Migration to the United States New Findings and Policy Recommendations. portal.ku.edu.tr/~mirekoc/reports/2005_2006_sebnem_koser_akcapar.pdf.
Bauman, Kurt. Educational Attainment in the United States: 2015. 2016, http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/p20-578.pdf.