Immigrant thoughts on America, Turkish homeland
Sam Pasha Kural cherishes his life as a small business owner and entrepreneur in his adopted country of America, but he casts an eye toward the recent turmoil in his Turkish homeland that he still loves.
Kural came to the United States 23 years ago from the bustling Turkish city of Istanbul. He arrived as a young student at the University of Maryland.
Today, he provides paychecks to 30 employees who make upholstered home furnishings through his Pasha Home Fashions factory in the southwestern corner of High Point.
Kural grew up in Istanbul, the sprawling metropolis roiled during the past two weeks through demonstrations by protestors against the Turkish government.
Initially, the demonstrations focused on plans by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to tear down Gezi Park in Taksim Square in Istanbul for a development. But the protests have escalated into questions about whether the government of the key U.S. ally that brackets Europe and Asia is drifting uncomfortably toward more sectarian, Islamic rule.
Kural has been in regular contact with relatives in Turkey during the demonstrations. The 43-year-old businessman, who became a U.S. citizen two years ago, said that he worries about the possible sectarian turn of Turkey and what that might mean for its people. As of Thursday afternoon, five people have died and more than 5,000 people have been reported injured in the unrest.
“It’s scary,” he tells The High Point Enterprise. “I would not want Turkey to become like one of those countries — Iraq, Iran, Syria. A fact is a fact — that doesn’t work.”
Kural’s experience as a newcomer to America reflects the classic immigrant success story. As a student at the University of Maryland, Kural got his start in business as a part-time flea market vendor while taking college classes. As he gained more experience, Kural branched into home furnishings. Today, in addition to his factory, Pasha Home Fashions maintains a showroom in the High Point Market district.
Kural said he’s proud of his Turkish roots, but has no regrets about becoming an American citizen. His adopted home is a country he sees with limitless opportunity. He thinks to himself in amazement, every day, that a kid from a modest Istanbul home now runs a small American business.
“The one thing that impressed me in this country — and still impresses me — if you set your mind to do anything, you can do it,” Kural said. “It may not happen quickly, but it will eventually happen. It’s just a matter of how much you want to do it.”
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