Mathematics teacher Engin Baştürk wished to serve abroad when he graduated from the university in Turkey. Through an acquaintance, he learned he could work in Pakistan. Baştürk wrote about the process of his migration to Pakistan and his first days there.
I graduated from university in 2005. Immediately after, I told my family I wanted to go to Pakistan to teach. It was very difficult to explain this to my family. They never wanted to leave me. I had never been away from my hometown Trabzon for a long stay in my life. I went to the university in a district of Trabzon. Even in the first year, my parents were angry with me asking, “Can’t you have education somewhere closer, why did you choose a place that far?” Yes, I was from Trabzon and was to attend an undergraduate degree program at the Fatih Faculty of Education in Akçaabat district. Even though I would study in the same province, even 50 km distance from home seemed too far for my parents.
I had a desire in my heart to go abroad as a teacher and to benefit people. I found someone who assisted those who wanted to become teachers in Turkish schools abroad. After a while, he told me I could go to Pakistan. I told my family I would stay in Pakistan for a year at most, learn a little English and return. They didn’t believe what I said, but they couldn’t say ‘stay’ either. Later I asked myself, “Where is Pakistan?” I was in the village and we didn’t have Internet back then. I thought, ‘There must be an atlas somewhere. I looked all over the house to see if I could find one, but in vain, there was none. Later, I found my brother’s geography book. It was then I realized Pakistan was far from Turkey, but I felt no sense of fear or regret. I quickly completed the required passport and visa procedures.
I forgot to pick up the travel ration my student had brought for me!
It was the time to part. My older brother, a year older than me, said, “It must be cold out there!” He had bought me a coat, winter shoes and some sweaters. He had also bought my bus ticket himself because he knew I had no money. The bus was to leave at 7 pm. I would leave Akçaabat, where I had lived for four years. When I was a student, I had tutored students in their school subjects. In my free time, they would visit me and ask my help. That evening they too would come to see me off. The family of one, especially his mother, loved me much. That student would bring me something to eat during my journey, his mother had told him so. It was evening and some of my friends and students came to see me off. My student said, “I brought you something to eat on the bus. My mother had made your favourite pastry.” We hugged and wept, and they saw me get on the bus. After a while, I realized that I forgot to take that travel ration. I went from Trabzon to Istanbul eating nothing.
I got off at Istanbul Esenler Intercity Bus Terminal. I didn’t even know how to get to the airport. I had asked no one before. Cell phones were not very common. I didn’t even know the subway existed. I was looking around with a suitcase in my hand. A taxi driver who saw my indecisive state in his parked car right across to me said, “Come, let me take you to your destination.” “I guess, there is no other way!” I said to myself and took the taxi. I had 25 liras in my pocket. Since I took a taxi for the first time, I did not know what a taximeter was, but when I saw it in a taxi, I thought ‘this must be the price I will pay’. The meter kept on ticking. He was probably applying the night rate on me. My eyes were always on the meter. When I saw 24 TL flashing, I said, “Driver, get me down here!” Although he said we were yet to arrive at the airport, I said, “I don’t have any more money, let me get down. I’ll walk.” “You know better!” he said and showed me the way to the airport. He didn’t say, “It’s okay, I’ll drop you off anyway.” I gave him all the money in my pocket. I walked for 15 minutes with a suitcase in my hand. After arriving at the airport, I met with friends and boarded the plane.
I landed in the heat of Karachi with my winter clothes
After a five-hour flight, we landed in Karachi. There were five of us, but none of us spoke English. Over time, we learned adequate English in a language school to work as teachers. At the airport we said to one another, “We will know the brother who will come to pick us up from his complexion!” We waited for a long time, but (in our opinion) there was no one who looked like a Turk there. The brother to meet us at Karachi Jinnah Airport was there, but I guess he found us not we him, because he looked no different than a Pakistani young man. 😊
I was in my newly bought winter shoes, sweater and coat the time I landed in Pakistan. With my winter clothes on, I met the humid heat of Karachi. I can never forget that warm jet of air hitting my face as I got off the plane. In my winter clothes, I was greeted by friends there. I stayed in Karachi for 15 days. It was Ramadan. I felt foreign to the spicy dishes of Karachi; I could not get used to them. I ate bananas every day for 15 days.
To be continued…