Exodus from America

Lillian Nazarova, Reporter

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For the past year, my mother and all of her fellow immigrant friends have been planning on leaving America and moving to Turkey. They say that it is cheaper, cleaner and closer to their original homes. My mom even went as far as buying an apartment in the city Mersin and plans to retire there after I’m off to college.

I always roll my eyes when my family brings up leaving America. As if moving across the ocean to a second-world country after living in America for 25 years is a good idea? Yeah, right.

Recently, I went over to my new neighbor’s house for tea and cookies with my mom. At first, it was awkward. She was very clearly not in her element speaking to us. However, when my mom asked where her accent was from, my neighbor said Russia, and a conversation immediately started to flow in their native tongue.

My neighbor was born in Russia, moved to Qatar when she was about six years old and then to America at 17. She attended the University of Miami and is now in residency for dermatology. Two kids, a successful husband and a beautiful house, yet she cannot wait to get out of America.

Reminiscing about her home in Qatar, she said that she used to be able to sleep with her door unlocked. There is a misconception that the Middle East is a warzone, but my neighbor has experienced worse violence in the United States. Her first week in Memphis, her mother was hit by a drunk driver and sent to the hospital for months. The driver got off without a charge. Last year, her brother was walking home from work in Birmingham. He was shot during a gang initiation.

It isn’t so far off to be worried about safety in America, even locally. My parents moved to America to escape the socialist oppression of the Soviet Union, and although the economic opportunity was better with the “American Dream,” they were disappointed by the state of safety. 

My mother told me the reason she sent me to St. Mary’s wasn’t necessarily the education, but she “felt like something would’ve happened and made me regret not sending you to a safer school.” And in fact, just last year someone brought a gun on campus to White Station High School.

The crime rates, kidnappings and riots in Memphis lately have not only scared my family but also the families of my friends. We have gotten to the point where free self-defense classes are being offered on campus. 

In the past year, U.S. News ranked Memphis as number one for most dangerous place. In Turkey, 29.1% of people privately own guns. In Tennessee, 51.60% of people do. When I looked up “mass shootings in Turkey” there were only a few tabs on Wikipedia. When I looked up “mass shootings in America” three pages worth of examples came up for 2023 alone.

My neighbor longs to raise her two girls in the safety of another country. Somewhere she can sleep at night knowing that they’re safe. If the so-called “American dream” can’t provide that safety, then maybe home far away can.