At first glance, sophomore Simge Yildiz may not appear to be anything more than an American high school student. But Simge is in reality a first-generation American. Having moved to America in the middle of sixth grade, Simge is an immigrant who constantly balances influences from both her old life in Turkey and her new one in America.
“Coming to America and going to an American school was new to my family,” Simge said. “I think that because I’m an immigrant, it changed the personality of who I am, it made me stronger, because of the things I had to go through.”
However, Simge’s transition from Turkey to America certainly wasn’t a smooth process. Though her sense of independence has increased, she has had to weather learning a new language, adjusting to a different style of community and hardest of all, building new relationships.
“I definitely felt a loss of community. I still do,” Simge said. “There are times when I just want that crowded room or that aunt that would come and talk to me. I just feel like I need that group of people in my life.”
Moving to America has caused other changes for Simge as well. For example, Turkish no longer comes as easily to her as English. Though her family strives to keep their Turkish culture, she can’t help but notice that this aspect of her old life changing.
“I can definitely say that my mom doesn’t understand my Turkish sometimes, because I mix English and Turkish,” Simge says. “[Moving to America] has influenced my language and how I’m speaking.”
Despite this influence that moving to America has had on her ability to communicate in Turkish, Simge’s family still manages to maintain much of their Turkish culture. For this reason, Simge still remains true to her Turkish heritage. Nothing really changed, it’s just where we live. I’m proud of being Turkish.
“I won’t say that I’m American, I’ll still say that I’m Turkish,” Simge said. “Nothing really changed, it’s just where we live. I’m proud of being Turkish.”