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"Here and Now"
Transcript of "Here and Now"
For three generations, young Turks have been moving into big cities and they have been transformed by the move. In 1950, 82 percent of Turks lived in rural areas; now, it is under 35 percent. The population of Istanbul alone has grown nearly ten times in that period to a crowded 14 million. Despite the massive arrival of rural migrants, Istanbul has remained a very European city, even if most of Turkey is far from being a European country. Furthermore, as Turkey gets even closer to joining the European Union, there has never been a better time to be a young and single Turk living in a big city.
For musician Bülent Aydoğan, 21, the move to Istanbul was “like joining the real world.” Bülent’s family left their small village near Rize when he was seven. “When we go back to the village every summer, I feel like I am travelling back in time,” says Bülent, who plays the guitar and sings in bars in downtown Istanbul. “The village life will always be part of me, but I want to live a modern life, have girlfriends and drink beer if I want to.”
Young people wanting to experience life in a big city are nothing new, in any country. However, in Turkey this phenomenon is also at the forefront of a social revolution. This revolution is about to bring the country closer to Europe than any new reforms from the government in Ankara. Istanbul’s Marmara University recently conducted a survey of graduating urban high-school students that showed a surprising generation gap. Unlike the previous generation, most students thought that the best age to get married was 30, and the best number of children to have was two. Most wanted to stay in Turkey, and, just like in Western Europe, the overwhelming majority of female students plan to have careers before getting married. The big difference is that, unlike Western Europe, Turkey has a much younger population, with 21 percent under the age of 24. Just as important, this generation is disproportionately concentrated in the major Turkish cities.
It is, however, not hard to see why so many young people are moving to the cities. Istanbul alone has 27 universities and colleges, Ankara 19. Istanbul is also one of the greatest business centres in the eastern Mediterranean, promising jobs and quick advancement to the hardworking, whether you are a yuppie or a taxi-driver. As for dating, the Turkish singles Internet sites change so fast that it is hard to follow all new members.
Turkey’s big cities are also a place of liberation, for young women above all. Many come to escape the rigid social structure of rural society, especially in Turkey’s conservative southeast, where arranged marriage is common and women are rarely allowed to work out of the home. The contrast between the two worlds, one urban and sophisticated, the other rural and religious, is increasingly drawn more sharply in Turkey than in any other country. Fortunately, that means that the capacity for change is also the greatest here. The cities are winning, and their vibrant youth culture is shaping the country Turkey will soon become.
Here and Now
Where do you think are these people from?
How about these people?
None of them?
They are from here
Can you recognize this city?
How about a more recent photo?
Looks very European, doesn't it?
How about these?
Do you think Turkey is a European country?
"This revolution is about to bring the country closer to Europe than any new reforms from the government in Ankara."