The Meskhetian Turks in Atlanta

Publié le par Sophie Tournon

The largest group of refugee arrivals to World Relief Atlanta throughout 2005 and 2006 was the Meskhetian Turks, an ethnic minority from the region of Russia known as Krasnodar.  Leaving behind a lifetime of forced migration and prejudice, the group has now begun making a new life for themselves in the United States.  This section highlights a bit of their history as well as providing links to pictures and stories from their resettlement experience in Atlanta.

From the start, the Meskhetian Turks have shown that they are eager to get established on their own in America.  Their past circumstances have affected their ease of resettlement. Some have been living in a simple agrarian setting; others have had experience in large cities.  Coming from a European background, most of the group members have had access to education (at least to primary) and are familiar with western lifestyle.  That is not to say they are not facing challenges in learning differences in the American system, however.  The Russian system was obviously much more socialist than our own, and the Turkish families are having to adopt new ways of thinking in relation to work, property, and responsibility. Family and tradition are also still very important for the group, and they have had to adjust to the separation and distance that are a part of the resettlement process.  (At one point, the entire population of many thousands wanted to all be settled together in Philadelphia!)

Probably one of the biggest challenges the group now faces, however, is simply coping with accepting the slow pace of getting established in America.  The group wants to reach a comfortable level quickly, but its members face a lack of resources and opportunities to do so.  As with most refugees, they face barriers in seeking work and dealing with problems due to their lack of English (though they have shown a fierce determination to learn it quickly.)  Some come from professional or skilled backgrounds and must face the frustrating, even discouraging, realization that they must enter low entry-level jobs and might never be able to get back to doing the work they had before. Others find the complex nature of urban life a harsh contrast to their farming background that complicates their ability to adjust.

Despite these challenges, however, the Turks are endearing themselves to resettlement staff and volunteers alike with their openness, hospitality, and desire to make a good life for their families.

The Meskhetian Turks in Atlanta

Every refugee group has its own experience in the Atlanta.  This section presents some photographs of Turkish families in Atlanta and the programs that they are offered through our office.  It also seeks to show a bit about what the group is teaching those of us from the United States about their culture and background as well.   

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