'The sparkles in their eyes at the end were something I would not trade for anything.'
I was born in an underprivileged area in Turkey. My father passed away when I was six. I was raised by my brother and my mother. I took an exam for a boarding school (Darussafaka) specifically for orphans, and after I passed the exam started living 1000km away from my family at the age of 10.
In my hometown, we lacked basic amenities laboratories, sports facilities, observatories, and instruments in school. And even in some areas parents don't let their daughters go to school. I consider myself lucky to be able to go to Darussafaka. The opportunities were mesmerizing in there so, I took advantage of them
I started participating in events, organizations, sessions, courses, and activities from volleyball to chorus, science projects to leadership programs, cake workshops to recycling movements. At first, I was doing these just to have fun then, I got lost. There were times I question if what I did was worth it, there were times that I had to be in three different places. I remember that I didn't even have the time to take care of myself.
Hopefully, things changed when I attended the Young Guru Academy (YGA). YGA is an organization that aims to turn young people into socially responsible future leaders. They know the best way to learn is by learning from role models so, we learned a lot about being the professions of the future by witnessing to role models; YGA Advisory Board and Alumni. With these mind-blowing experiences, I further volunteered in the Science Movement. By sending the recent technologies to the most disadvantaged regions of Turkey, the Science Movement aimed to raise free thinkers, unique creators, and confident individuals by being their role models. We became the role models of children that we organized science sessions with. Our conversations were so motivating one said people often come to them, play, and give gifts to them that is why he didn't want to come today but the way we approached him felt so real and helped him discover that he really likes science and technology. He even wanted us to come back again. To date, I'm still baffled by their ambitions to learn and their creativity.
Their ambition drew me up from the water and helped me realized what I wanted to do in life; to be a role model to millions of kids who dream like them.
After that day, I worked hard on making an impression on people and especially on children. First, I became the first girl captain of our robotics team. However, it was not enough. I needed to reach the ones who still live under family patriarch and societal pressure. I and my robotics team worked on projects, workshops, and webinars to touch their hearts. Tried to reach their parents, their teachers, their mukhtars to break taboos of their culture. We were rejected every time.
I almost gave up, but I found hope through a foundation that wanted to publish a book about successful girls' stories under the slogan of "Strong Girls, Strong Futures". It was a chance to reach more people. We worked on it for days and finally, the book was published.'If I Want'
After that, teachers from different villages found me and wanted me to talk with their students who would be inspired by talking with me. So, we arranged online sessions. I saw myself in them. Their curiosity and hard work in such rough conditions unsettled me. The sparkles in their eyes at the end were something I would not change for the whole world. All the success I gained from robotics, science projects, volunteer works, volleyball, and YGA was nothing compared to the talks with those kids.
Now looking back on what I have done, I see how much we can do If We Want.