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Delegate From Turkey: Sema Karaoglu

by Burcu BOZKURT
Sophomore at Broughton High School in Raleigh, NC
LM South - Teen Representative

I heard of Sema Karaoglu first when I came across her "Daughters of Ataturk" website on the Internet. The enticing description itself prompted me to join immediately, and at first, I was quite surprised by the number of people who were actively involved in this organization. Months later, when I was invited to write a paper about Sema Karaoglu from a teen aspect, I was not only extremely honored, but also anxious that I wouldn't be able to truly reflect the importance of the accomplishments and undertakings of such a distinguished person in our community.

Our phone call, however, made me realize that Ms. Sema Karaoglu, at one time or another, went through the same situations and experienced the same feelings that almost all Turkish-American teenagers experience. Situations where one receives special attention because of his or her Turkish name and is left to answer the unavoidable subsequent questions, such as "Where is Turkey? I've never heard of it." It is how Ms. Sema Karaoglu answered these very questions that propelled her to represent Turkey in the best manner possible, thus bringing on her younger nickname, the "Delegate from Turkey," bestowed by one of her school instructors.

"Delagate from Turkey"

With a serene voice that almost happens to portray her state of peace, she explained to me that her urge to keep her culture alive in her younger years snowballed into the big strides that she has taken not only for Turkish women, but overall the larger Turkish-American community. Originating from the grassroots level, she has continuously promoted the Republic of Turkey in America by drawing similarities between the two countries and by sharing information that represents all aspects of Turkish society. Her achievements prove that this kind of evidential entrepreneurship is successful in reaching extensive recognition, simply due to the fact that the only things that are needed to present a perspective are evidence and the thirst to market one's ideas.

The Daughters of Ataturk group, founded by Ms. Sema Karaoglu in 1999 and launched from her hometown of San Clemente, California, has proven exactly this. It has established a network for Turkish women to not only correspond with one another, but it has also been successful in recognizing their international achievements. However, one of the most noteworthy aspects of this association is that it has not just instituted a set precedent, but has also supplied a significant stepping-stone for the generations to come.

The recognition that Ms. Sema Karaoglu has received is not only motivational to herself, but also to anyone who yearns to start a movement, or endorse a cause. Her wish is that the future generations continue and expand in her footsteps. As for advice on how to do this, she states the obvious- that everyone is unique and therefore, has the capability to specialize their creations and to mark them their own. One thing, she says, that the future generation must never forget, still is the actuality that we must continue our education and find ways to educate ourselves with the world around us. This can go anywhere from volunteering regularly, to attending town meetings, or just simply sitting down and reading the daily news.

It all seems so simple, and it is. We must take steps now to ready ourselves for what is to come. Therefore, my words are to the Turkish teens around the world. It will soon be our turn to step up and keep fulfilling the dream that Ataturk and thousands of others once fought for; to protect and ensure the future of our nation and its people. We are Turkey's future leaders, doctors, scientists, engineers, writers, and community builders.

Ms. Sema Karaoglu gave me more than advice that night when I talked to her. She emphasized that it was once harder to voice an opinion, to receive acknowledgement, yet she succeeded. And we can, too. She also told me that the most influential words in her life came from her father in her teenage years, and now, it might be mine, also. "Never forget you're a Turk...."

 

Burcu Bozkurt
April 18, 2006
Cary, North Carolina
Light Millennium - South
Teen Representative

Read more about Sema Karaoglu at > http://www.lightmillennium.org/2006_17th/epamucak_sema_karaoglu.html

More LM - South articles at> http://www.lightmillennium.org/south.html

LIGHTMILLENNIUM.ORG -6th Anniversay, #17th Issue
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