My name is Oguzhan Esmen. I was born in Rize, in Turkey, in 1989. I graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in Geophysical Engineering in 2014. After that, I have come to the U.S.A. to learn the English language. That is why I have been studying at the ELI for one and a half years. After finishing the ELI program I would like to get an MBA degree in International Business. Then, I would like to work in international companies in different countries so that I can make my biggest dreams come true, which are to travel all around the world and to have different kinds of experiences in my professional life and in my personal life.
Along the Silk Road
A journey along the Silk Road could sound tiring, but having such an experience in an exhibition hall by looking at photographs from different countries is not. If one of those countries is yours, that would make the exhibition more attractive for you. That was what happened to me when I heard that I would visit an exhibition at Queens College about the Silk Roads. As far as I remember from my history lectures in school, I know that the Silk Road runs from country to country through China, Uzbekistan, and Turkey, and that it derives its name from Chinese silk. It is a road by which different cultures, goods, languages and religions interacted with each other. What I did not remember was that the route of the Silk Road included my home town of Rize. Coming across several photographs of Rize in the exhibition hall surprised me a lot. To be honest, it made me feel proud as well. Let’s start on our, in actual length, 6,000 km, but short trip.
There are a lot of different countries along the Silk Road, but the thing was that while staring at the photographs from a variety of places, I felt like there was something common in the expressions of the faces of the people in the photographs. Even though their ethnicity or race and the religion they believe in were not germane to each other, the people had something in common, which was, I believe, caused by the image of the Silk Road as a vehicle of interaction. Seeing moments from local people’s routines—children playing, men and women making a living—made me think that I was an invisible guest whom no one in the photographs saw. While I was having such feelings, a couple of photographs caught my attention in terms of the similarity to my home town. Coming closer to them made me realize that it was Rize—nowhere else. After a couple of stunning minutes, I was in profound thought, which was kind of in between homesickness and amazement. What I believe is that this coincidence will be told about and memorable for as long as I am alive. However, not knowing that the Silk Road goes through my city will be a feeling of shame for me as well.
Even though the main purpose of the road is to travel and to trade, it does not matter how far you travel along it. You can still find something in common with the people you meet on your way. That is what I believe. There is an accumulation of experiences by people who have traveled on the road from its very beginning up until today. In other words, what I saw in the exhibition was not a new experience. It was rather something that I realized belonged to me, was a part of me.