Crossing the Globe


Japan and Globaligration

Into the Hill Tribes of Vietnam

Ali and Me

Return To Sender

Yo Estoy Aqui

There and Back

Open Letter

Return to Sender

Julian Bailey

When we first arrived in Turkey, there was a common task on most of our to-do lists. After spending the last two months in weather over 80 degrees fahrenheit, it was necessary to find warm clothing for the surprisingly cool weather. For this reason, I traveled with my friends to a local mall in Istanbul. After a leisurely couple of hours inside the mall, we  stopped to have a coffee break. While sitting down, I noticed somebody at the table beside us whom I thought I recognized. After a few minutes of trying to confirm my premonition, I realized from where I know him. There in the middle of the mall, half way around the world sat one of my friends from university in New York. I had known that he was from Istanbul but hadn’t even thought about contacting him. He was surprised to see me as well. After we got reacquainted we agreed to plan a date where we could catch up.

What makes this story interesting is that Mert has been forced to come back from New York to Turkey in order to serve in the army. Unless he is able to secure full time employment in the United States, or elsewhere, he will have to remain in Turkey for the next four years in order to serve. We talked for over an hour about his distaste for having to return home, and his plan for trying to get out of having to go to war. He expressed a common feeling of resentment in young Turkish men in regards to their civil obligation. If Mert doesn’t find a job before he has to serve, he may have another option. Mert’s father was a part of the “direct labour recruitment by Germany in the 1960s and early 1970s”, as discussed by Stephen Castles and Mark Miller in The Age of Migration (p.26). (Castles/Miller p.26) His father had migrated to Germany in 1965 in order to find employment opportunity. His father obtained his German citizenship during his stay there which may help Mert bypass his duties. Mert is currently working on obtaining his German passport through his father, however it is difficult since his father no longer resides in Germany. If Mert gets approved for his passport, he will be able to move to Germany, find a job, and bypass his service obligation to Turkey. It is mandatory for young Turkish men to serve in the army, which he claims not to be a pleasant experience. It was fascinating to speak to one of my own peers about this situation. It is a situation so far removed from what I imagine for my Canadian self in my early 20s. Hopefully Mert will be able to find an alternative to serving in the Turkish Army. If he is able to migrate to Germany, he will be following the path of his father by migrating at a young age.

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