“Gurpinar’s parents moved to Germany soon after he was born. At 13, he moved back to Turkey to live with his grandparents. As an adult, he worked a computer job in a factory in Ankara while his wife worked in a bank in that city. In his native land, he said, he led a comfortable life—but it felt incomplete.
As time went on, he said, he always felt as if something were missing. More than anything, he could not shake his desire to obtain a college degree, a goal he said was nearly impossible in his homeland.
“In Europe, as an adult, it is very difficult to go back to college,” he said. “After the age of 30, it is practically unheard of.”
So Gurpinar and his wife, who also wanted to further her education, decided that moving to the U.S. would be the only way to reach that dream.
Gurpinar says he was pleased by what he sees as a receptive attitude toward immigrants.
“If I compare my experience to my parents’ who immigrated to Germany in 1965, the first thing that I would emphasize is that the U.S. is much more receptive, tolerant and open to the newcomers,” Gurpinar said.
“I spent a considerable amount of my childhood in Germany, and from my experience I can tell that my daughter will not experience the hardships that I had experienced there when growing up. I am completely optimistic about her future here in this country.”
It’s no surprise then that Gurpinar’s proudest moment was his first opportunity to vote.
“When I was at the voting booth, I felt like I was really part of the society,” he said. “I was proud when I became a U.S. citizen, but nothing compared to voting. To be part of this society means to have a voice for the future of this country, and the U.S. democracy can make it possible.”
It is for reasons like that, Gurpinar said, that he is proud to be an American.
“My only regret is that I didn’t come here sooner,” he said.”