“I have this passion about justice. It’s been like this for me forever,” said sophomore computer engineering major Omer Yildrin.
Though his major doesn’t quite match his aspirations, being in America is just one step closer to law school for Yildrin.
You see, he and many other students at this university weren’t born as American citizens. The University of Maryland Admissions Office reported 115 countries were represented by students enrolled in 2015.
Yildrin grew up in Izmir, a city on the western coast of Turkey. He fondly recalled his life there with his six siblings. When he was 18, he moved to Istanbul to go to college, but soon dropped out.
“I think I was feeling like I wanted to do a new start,” he said.
This university just seemed like a logical place to be for Yildrin. He reminisced about traveling with his mom as a young boy.
“When I was 10 she took me to Maryland,” he explained. “I liked it very much.”
So when he wanted a new life, he moved to Maryland, but did not forget about Turkey.
“I’m planning to go back,” he added, highlighting his aspirations to one day be Turkey’s president.
Until he has an education impressive enough to break into the Turkish government, however, Yildrin says he will remain in the United States. He has been following American politics in the meantime.
In regard to 2016 presidential election, he said, “It was a disaster, and the next four years is gonna be really hard.”
In a similar fashion to other people who cringe at the idea of President-elect Donald Trump actually running the country, Yildrin recited a laundry list of controversial comments Trump has made.
“Everything we’ve done in the past eight years, I feel like … it’s all gonna be done,” Yildrin sighed.
Throughout the election, it seemed to him the political parties were more separated than ever before.
“This time it divided the country, literally,” he said. Republicans and Democrats had more than just opposing views, they were total enemies and “it went too far this time.”
The divisions of races, genders and religions that many believe Trump is fostering has the potential to resemble the lack of unity Yildrin described in Turkey. The country is “so divided,” he began; there are “so many ethnic groups in Turkey” and “they all think they’re the chosen ones.”
While there are more than 10 ethnic groups in Turkey, the most famous feud is between the Turks and the Kurds. According to BBC, the violent conflict has been raging since 1978. It is Yildrin’s ultimate goal to stop the decades of fighting.
“My dream is a unified Turkey,” he explained.
And he plans to use the same passion with which he will advocate for the rights of all people in his home country to support those of the citizens of the United States.
“I’m kind of used to leaders like Trump,” Yildrin started, saying the “Middle East is filled with it.” But neither them, nor Trump, can deter him.
It hasn’t been easy, but Yildrin managed to find some optimism.
“If people don’t have equal rights I feel like there’s something burning in my heart. I can’t just stand there and watch,” he said.
“If you need to make a change you gather people and you start marching.”
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Omer Yildrin.
Taylor Roar is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.