ZEHRA NUR SIMSEK
It all began with the persistent buzz of a fly while I grappled with an autobiography assignment in my dorm room in Istanbul. This unrelenting sound triggered a distant memory, transporting me back in time to the cherished summers of my childhood, spent at my farmer grandparents' rural home nestled in the mountain of Antalya. It was a village shrouded in forests and sustained by agriculture and livestock. The sounds of nature were constant companions: the evening chirping of crickets, the melodious songs of birds at dawn, and the squirrels. Around the age of five, I started climbing the mountains like Heidi, discovering the true essence of freedom in the embrace of nature. I cannot deny the profound impact nature had in shaping my character.
Growing up, I could not ignore the painful transformations taking place in our village. The forests I once roamed were disappearing, and the soil was slowly dying. Simultaneously, I bore witness to the escalating climate crisis and the misguided agricultural policies that left our farmers disillusioned and disconnected from the land they had tended for generations. Conversations at home during the summer always revolved around the scarcity of water in the village, the conflicts it triggered, and the memories of bountiful rains and fertile soil. The climate was changing, water was scarce, crop yields were dwindling, and everything began to taste insipid and lifeless. Eventually, my family along with other villagers, transitioned from being producers to consumers.
Today, as I engage in the sport of trail running, I find myself rekindling those long-lost feelings. The desire to reconnect with the natural world grows stronger with each stride. I feel an indebtedness to nature, a calling to protect it, and a burning determination to take action. I miss waking up to the chirping of squirrels and a wide variety of birds. Fueled by the intensity of these emotions, I decided that the fastest action I could take was to start creating content on LinkedIn to raise awareness.
This is my story of embarking on the path of environmental advocacy…
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