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Unedited Version (the "Before")
I still remember vividly the day/ moment I was deliberately humiliated, threatened to be slapped by a high school teacher in front of my classmates. As the president of my class, I was representative of and responsible for my own actions as well as those of my classmates. One of my duties had been to, while our teacher had left the room, list the names of everyone involved in discussions on the blackboard. After the return of my teacher, those students were to be punished, slapped in the face. I would do so, in order to retain everyones respect and quietness in the room. When another classs teacher walked in, I tried to save my friends from his hard strokes and erased all the names. Now, I was to be punished.
Not only talking, but even asking questions in class was not allowed. Teachers as well as college professors perceive questioning as criticism toward their teaching abilities, but also prevents them from admitting lack of knowledge on certain issues. A Turkish school is not a place to ask questions, but to absorb knowledge from lectures and aged textbooks.
Being the daughter of relatively liberal parents, I was encouraged to get involved in discussions, which eventually made me understand that I could question any of the cultural guidelines. In contrast to the other Turkish females, I was determined enough to to leave the boundries of my culture, and defer from the traditional path of earning respectability as housewife and mother, exclusively. (Being a determined female, my goals did not go along with the religious and cultural guidelines of Turkish people.) I decided to sacrifice the company of my friends and family, in order to secure/build a successful future. I have always wanted to get the best education possible, and become a neurosurgeon.
Not only did the technological standards at even reputable Turkish universities not agree with that, but there were other factors, too. Political bloodshed is as much part of a students life as illegitimate and inadequate teaching standards.
Although, there are some attributes of Turkish culture that I prize such as being respectful to parents, to teachers, or to elderly, self disciplined in both religious and educational life, believing in a religion that gives me confidence and the determination to achieve what I need to achieve. The respect, the communication skills, the smile and the optimism give a good basis to succeed in Western Culture. While it is extremely uncommon for Turkish women of any social class to defer from the traditional role of women, living in the United States I face fewer restrictions because of my gender. In addition, I can rely on better edicators, technoloy, with the prospect of better liing standarts. In the United States, I found myself having more opprtunities to speak out, to make decisions of my own, to be the best as I can be regardless of my gender. I prize my freedoms in this country very much that I would never dishonor them by not being active.
Although I am Turkish, much of my identity arouse out of a desire for freedoms that are available to Americans. Therefore, I believe my identity is not a result of either Turkish or American cultures but out of a personal desire for setting my own limits.
Edited Version (the "After")
Have you ever been slapped in front of all your high school classmates? Unfortunately, in the archaic, authoritarian Turkish schools, my high school teacher deliberately humiliated me by slapping me hard across the face. As the president of my class, one of my responsibilities was to list the names of everyone who talked when the teacher was not in the room on the blackboard. When the teacher returned, the teacher would slap the students who talked across the face. Ordinarily, I took my responsibility seriously and obediently wrote down my classmates' names to preserve the silence and decorum of the school environment. However, when a different teacher walked in, a teacher known to punish too hard and painfully, I decided to save my friends from his hard strokes, and I erased all the names. I had to take their punishment myself.
Yes, this practice will seem ridiculous and excessively harsh to American readers, but the incident typifies the stagnation and backwardness of Turkish schools. Not only is talking disallowed, asking questions in class is forbidden. Both high school teachers and college professors perceive questioning as criticism of their teaching abilities. Many teachers fear questioning since they may have to admit a lack of knowledge on certain issues. A Turkish school is not a place to ask questions; instead, it is a place to absorb knowledge from lectures and aged textbooks. However, I need more from my learning environment than senseless silence and minds afraid of questioning arbitrary rules and old theories.
As the daughter of relatively liberal parents, I was encouraged to become involved in discussions, which led me to understand that questioning cultural guidelines is not inherently wrong but absolutely necessary. In contrast to other Turkish females, I refused to allow the narrow boundaries of my society's cultural mores to force me to follow the traditional path of earning respectability exclusively as housewife and mother. Defying the religious and cultural guidelines of the bulk of the Turkish people, I decided to sacrifice the acceptance of my traditional female friends and the traditional parts of my family to build a successful future. Senseless laws will not push me down, as I am dedicated to achieving my goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
However, not only would I have to struggle against archaic, male-dominated laws, I would also have to tolerate the low technological standards of Turkish universities, which do not have the resources to train excellent physicians in modern methods. Unfortunately, political bloodshed is also a fact of Turkish student life, and I hope to leave Turkey to pursue in the United States an excellent education, characterized by academic freedom and an absence of civil strife.
While my personal identity is in many ways a reaction against Turkish culture, there are some attributes of Turkish culture that I have incorporated into my identity, like having respect for one's elders, having self-discipline in both religious and educational life, and believing in a religion that gives me the confidence and determination to achieve my goals. With these personal qualities combined with my personal determination and my questioning nature, I am certain that I can find success in Western Culture. Moreover, because the United States has far fewer gender-based restrictions than Turkey and has a much better developed educational system equipped with state-of-the-art technology, I believe that the United States will give me the opportunity to achieve my full potential, to speak out against injustice, and to seek the truth.