I find that being Turkish, coming from a bi-continental upbringing, and having a global perspective as a dual citizen influences the way I view the world and contextualize culture and identity. To me, culture is a complex and nuanced construct that has a profound impact on human experience. At its core, culture encompasses the shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviors, and artifacts that characterize a particular group or society. It is a dynamic entity that is shaped by the actions and beliefs of individuals, as well as by historical events, economic forces, and other factors.
I firmly believe that one way to view culture is as a means of unifying individuals within a particular community. Culture can provide a sense of identity and belonging, as well as a shared history and set of traditions that help to bring people together. For example, a defining aspect of Turkish culture is its hospitality and warmth. Turkish people are known for their generosity and kindness, and they often go out of their way to make visitors feel welcome. This is particularly true when it comes to food, with Turkish cuisine being a true celebration of flavor and hospitality. From the hearty stews of Anatolia to the sweet pastries of Istanbul, Turkish food is a reflection of the country’s diverse cultural heritage.
In addition to its rich history and hospitality, Turkish culture is also known for its love of life and its passion for celebration. From the bustling bazaars of Istanbul to the vibrant nightlife of the Aegean Coast, Turkish people have a zest for life that is contagious. Whether it’s dancing to the rhythm of traditional music or participating in one of the many festivals and events that are held throughout the year, Turkish culture is a celebration of life and community.
At the same time, culture can also be seen as a means of promoting diversity and inclusiveness. This perspective recognizes that different cultures can offer unique perspectives and ways of thinking that can enrich our understanding of the world. By appreciating and celebrating the cultural differences of others, individuals and communities can foster greater empathy and understanding, as well as cultivate a more inclusive and diverse society. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to experience this first hand, when I moved to Italy at a young age, started attending a German high school later on, and moved to the U.S. at 16. All of these places had differences in terms of culture, but realizing that culture is not static but rather is shaped and reshaped by the actions and beliefs of individuals, making it unifying and not divisive has made my experiences a lot more fulfilling growing up.
To me, the meaning of culture is complex and multifaceted, and can vary widely depending on one’s personal experiences, beliefs, and values. Despite this, it is clear that culture plays a critical role in shaping our individual and collective identities, and in promoting greater understanding and empathy between people and communities. Whether viewed as a means of unifying individuals, promoting diversity and inclusiveness, or as a dynamic and evolving entity, culture remains a powerful and inescapable aspect of human experience.