Expat couple offers Turkish delight

By Yu Ran
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, November 4, 2010
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Expat couple offers Turkish delight

For Alptekin Aydin, his wife and their 9-year-old son, promoting their homeland in their host country is a family affair.

The Turkish household has spent the last year promoting the Eurasian republic from which they hail at the Expo 2010 Shanghai.

After Aydin, who owns a China-based company facilitating trade with Turkey, became vice-director of the Izmir Pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area, the family moved from Beijing to Shanghai to make sure they were on the frontlines of the action.

"I felt very excited to be the inspector for such a big project, and I was really looking forward to being the representative to show my own city to the world," Aydin, 55, says.

"I felt very proud of working for Expo with my family by introducing Turkey to the world, making friends all over the world in different fields and building up networks for future cooperation in China."

His wife, Deniz Genez Aydin, worked as a fortuneteller in the pavilion, practicing the ancient Turkish tradition of tasseography, or reading the future in dried coffee stains.

"The coffee fortune telling is a type of psychological therapy to assist people to make decisions and help them see future opportunities," says Genez, whose family passed down to her the divination secrets when she was 15.

She adds that she normally doesn't share bad omens with visitors, because bad luck can be usurped by positive thinking.

And the couple's young son, Mustafa Efe Aydin, has been pitching in as a pint-sized tour guide, leading visitors around the pavilion and stamping Expo passports. Efe, who moved from Izmir to the Chinese capital at age 3, is fluent in Mandarin and speaks with a twinge of a Beijing accent.

"I enjoyed my life in China with my parents and have made so many friends in Beijing and Shanghai," he says, smiling.

It was largely because of Alptekin's career and China experience that Izmir city asked him to take the post at the pavilion.

A job as an engineer with the Turkish air force's maintenance department provided the runway for Alptekin's career takeoff. He took a post as vice-president of a medical company in 1992, before registering his own business in Hong Kong and opening a Beijing office - an office he closed when he moved to Shanghai last year to devote himself to the Expo.

"I moved to Beijing six years ago with my family to settle down because I believe China has a huge market for me to develop for Turkish investors," Alptekin says.

The family plans to return to Turkey after Efe finishes primary school in two years.

Alptekin says the family has purchased land for growing olives and plans to open a company to process them.

"I will definitely bring my products to China in the future," he says.

But before returning to Turkey, the family plans to live out their six-year dream of driving the ancient Silk Road route from China to their homeland, promoting exchanges between the two countries along the way.

"We still need some support to make our dream come true, which hopefully will happen within two years," Alptekin says.

He adds that if the family leaves China, it will visit every summer so Efe can see his old friends and keep his Mandarin sharp.

One way or another, the family will always have a place in both their home country and in the country they have made their home.


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