An adorable, vibrant girl with amazing hair stood in front of me as our walking tour of Munich began. As our tour progressed we realized she was going to be a really awesome friend to hang out with, and we were blown away by her story. Everyone, meet Dilara.
Asking Dilara where she comes from can lead to a very interesting story.
“I’m originally from a small town in Cyprus, and Istanbul, Turkey.” Dilara tells us, “I’ve kept moving all my life which has made me think of myself as a global citizen. I’m not quite sure where I belong, but some of the places I consider home are Turkey, Cyprus, Canada, US, France, England, Thailand and Nepal.” I envy her travels so much and her ability to consider so many places ‘home’.
How are there so many places Dilara calls ‘home’?
She was fortunate to have parents who traveled often for business, “As I was growing up they would take me with them. I was always exposed to different cultures and places. As I grew up traveling, travel has become a part of me. I have taken every opportunity presented to travel as much as possible starting at a very early age that it has become a part of my identity as an adult.”
She continues, “I have traveled for Model UN conferences, participated in two exchange programs in high school, took two gap years, volunteered abroad, interned abroad, and studied abroad three times during my time in university.”
Further, her adventures have carried her to the faraway lands of Thailand, Nepal, Canada, Nicaragua, the Bahamas, New Zealand, the US, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Cyprus, Turkey, the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Vatican, Italy and Portugal.
Dilara wants to change the world.
The beginning of her journey into this huge task is by studying Political Philosophy at the London School of Economics. “I would like to think of myself as a boss lady as I seek to be a leader advocating human rights in the future.” Dilara’s largest goal is one of monumental importance. “My ideal goal is to work at the United Nations Human Rights Council on protecting the fundamental rights of individuals, and closing the social and economic inequality gap,” says Dilara.
Dilara continues, “Travelling gives you the opportunity to be exposed to many different situations. Your reactions to such situations help you get to know yourself better. I have found myself to become more and more mature as I travel. I am inspired to travel because it helps me understand my priorities and values at a deeper level.”
As I grew up in different countries, I have realized that people usually focus on their differences to create exclusive communities and a sense of us vs them.
Connecting With the World
“Yet, traveling made me realize how similar we are in practice. Such realization makes me feel way more connected to the world because it strengthens my trust and belief in everyone, all humans everywhere. It’s also really cool to see how different economic and government systems are applied around the world. It opens your mind up by proving to you that there are alternative ways of doing things and they all work relatively well so there is no point in closing yourself and limiting yourself to just one.”
“Every place I have been, I have learned as much about the culture and daily life thereby interacting with locals. I have learned different languages, traditions, cooking skills and party tricks. I have made a lot of memories extremely meaningful for my personal growth. My favorite thing about traveling is the experiences and knowledge it leaves you with.”
The Most Amazing Experience
While for most, the people we meet on our journey can have the most impact on our lives, for Dilara, it was a gorgeous elephant whom has touched her the most. “I have volunteered in an elephant sanctuary in rural Thailand where I have connected so much with the elephant I was working with who was abused in her past. Animals have psychological capabilities to feel way more than we think they do. I had the amazing opportunity to realize that we all are a part of such rich nature and cognitive abilities when she saved my life by handing me her ears when I was about to fall down and be crushed by other elephants.”
Dealing With A Nightmare
Many of us fear be