Diler Ertuğ

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I was born in Lefkosa in 1985, in the Dereboyu neighborhood before it became the buzzing entertainment stretch that it is today. I grew up in traditional Turkish Cypriot style, with my family around me, and have very fond memories of hot summers at the beach, the air buzzing with the songs of cicadas and this small island where everyone knew everyone. Back then I can’t recall ever hearing a single ambulance siren, sitting in traffic, pollution, crime… It was a different world and a happier time which still lives on in my memories.

When I was 5 my family moved to New York due to my father’s work. We lived in Manhattan until I was 12, meaning that I completed my primary education and my first year of junior high school in the USA. I loved my elementary school. From the academic challenges to our amazing teachers whose hard work and motivation I will never forget to the class trips and parties and everything in between, there was never a day I didn’t enjoy going to school. At graduation I was chosen as valedictorian and my name is still engraved on a plaque there. Growing up bilingual and bi-cultural had a huge impact on the decisions I would make in the years to come and my primary education would shape my love for reading and writing, ultimately resulting in my becoming an English Literature teacher.

Upon my family’s return to the island, I finished junior high at BTMK and then graduated from TMK’s GCE Arts Department. I applied for the Fulbright-CASP Scholarship and most people had very little faith in my being successful due to the program favoring applicants from the Science Department. I would prove them wrong and receive a quarter scholarship to study in the USA. I went to Virginia Wesleyan College, a small, liberal arts university where I received my BA in Communications Studies (major), Philosophy (major) and History (minor).

In university my love of Japanese popular culture grew to such an extent that I was determined to go to Japan and pursue something in the arts. As a new graduate, I had a wide skill set with little experience and only my motivation to guide me. After going to Japan for several months, I was able to secure a job as a native English teacher for a small conversation school (Eikaiwa) and returned to the TRNC as I waited for my working visa to be processed. As it turns out, the wait would be rather long: a year, almost exactly. During that time I worked as a journalist and gained my first real work experience. While journalism has never been a profession I enjoy, I have tremendous respect for inquisitive people who have an instinct for asking questions. I learned that that is an instinct I do not possess and was thus able to transition smoothly from journalism to my new life as a sensei in Japan.

I lived in Japan for roughly 8 years and, though I never did end up in the arts, I was able to draw lesson materials for my company which are still used in all the classrooms in the country, form my own heavy metal band, have concerts, do a heavy metal-themed radio show for over two years which aired in Osaka regularly and the list goes on… In 2014 I returned to the TRNC and was put in contact with NEC where I began working for the GCSE Arts Department. It’s sort of lovely, coming full circle.

I enjoy writing fiction, drawing mostly in the comic-book style, reading classic literature, singing loudly and spending quality time with people who inspire me. I aspire to be a published author and have already began working on my second novel, as I wait for the first to be considered by several publishing houses I have submitted it to. I’m extremely passionate about language in general and literature in particular. Having graduated with a degree in communications, I place great importance on positive interaction and the linguistics we use in our day-to-day. A culture that doesn’t place enough emphasis on reading is destined to undermine its own identity and there can be no greater detriment to a nation than to raise generations in the wasteland of ignorance.

My greatest aim has ever been to teach my students the significance and necessity of personal responsibility. I would want them to learn to stand behind their thoughts, words and actions. As adolescence fades into the past, there will appear challenges both familiar and unexpected and I would want them to have the skills and the strength to face them head-on. As my hero J.R.R. Tolkien once spoke: “He should not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.”

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