Students share experience on Turkey attack

Lindsey O'Neill, Reporter, Artist/Cartoonist

Sophomore Nina Hursit leaves for the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on the last day of every school year to catch her ten hour flight to her home country of Turkey. Hursit tries to occupy herself during the flight by attempting to watch movies and sleep, but always finds it impossible to contain her excitement during the journey. Upon arriving to Bodrum, the small coastal town where the Hursit family resides in the summer, Hursit enters relaxation mode.

However, last summer’s attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on Tuesday, July 5 interrupted Hursit’s peace. The attack did not directly affect the Hursit family, who at the time resided in their usual summer spot, but it unsettled Hursit and she resented her return to the Ataturk Airport later that summer.

The attack at an Istanbul nightclub this past January hit closer to home for the Hursit family, as two of Hursit’s relatives attended events at the Reina nightclub in Ortaköy once before, and found themselves shocked to hear the site of the attack due to its immense popularity. Hursit and her brother lodged at their cousin’s apartment when they overheard the breaking news report. With the attack taking place on the first night of the new year, the citizens of Turkey lost a great amount of hope on top of their mourning over the lives lost.

Courtesy of Nina Hursit
Nina Hursit and family pose for a family photo.

Hursit and others admit the lack of surprise they shared when hearing the news. Despite their absence of shock, the Hursit family continued their concern for all of the lost lives and the state of their beloved country. Hursit’s mom now takes extreme caution during her family’s visits and tries to avoid crowded places at all costs.

Also a sophomore at NC, Leda Catak, a close friend of Hursit, visits her family in Turkey during the summer every two years. While staying just outside of Istanbul this past summer, Catak resided in the city when the attack occurred at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport,  which took 42 lives.

“I saw the dried blood on the ground of the victims and saw the holes in the walls from gunshots right when I came back from Izmir,” Catak said.

Catak felt frightened to know that the same place where she passed through only a day earlier now hosts a series of terrorist attacks. Catak spent the evening with close, neighborhood friends on the night they heard gunshots and left for their home.

“This past summer was one I will never forget despite the dark days that my beautiful country had to face,” Catak said.

Catak feels deeply troubled by her experience this past summer, but continues to view Turkey in a positive light. Both Hursit and Catak associate Turkey with home and feelings of comfort alongside family and choose to stay in Turkey, even though the danger often occupies it.

Hursit believes, Istanbul, the only city that connects two continents, can accredit its geographic circumstance for the violence it witnessed in these past months. Catak complies with Hursit regarding the effect of Turkey’s power on it’s competition with and targeting by other countries.

Courtesy of Nina Hursit
People come onto the streets as the snow finally begins to melt and the temperatures rise.

“[Turkey] is important geographically, and all throughout history countries have been fighting to gain control over it,” Hursit said.

Additionally, Catak believes the Prime Minister, Binali Yıldırım, should back down for in Turkey’s best interest. The two consider the recent discord in Turkey, a more centripetal rather than centrifugal force for Turkey’s citizens.

Catak witnessed the people of Turkey coming together to support one another through this difficult time. According to Catak, unity should present itself within the country, not just for the good of Turkey and its people, but for the founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

“Even though my country is prone to violence, the people, food, and culture bring me back every summer,” Hursit said.