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Published on : Friday, May 12, 2017
Carrying an uncommon becomes bit difficult when one remains a child. But as I started getting older, I got used to my rather uncommon name. People often ask me whether I’m a foreigner or not as my name and surname are quite rare in Turkey. Names like Serge, Ornella and Laurent are common in cities like İzmir and this makes me like this place a lot. People with different names live in Izmir.
In any Anatolian town, Lucien Arkas might face problem explaining he’s Turkish after pronouncing his name. But one who comes from the Levant and whose ancestors have lived in these lands longer than most of us, makes the individual as “local and national” as all of us Turks. Ultimately, how many Turkish businessmen we are aware of who have turned their family company into a global brand and handed over an art center to his home city?
To note, the Levantines who have a rich history and goes back as far as the 10th century are part of Turkey’s mosaic like anything. However, though they were once a big community, their numbers in İzmir have considerably reduced in size to a mere 100 or something. Although, they still play a significant role in the economic and cultural life of the city, as is the case with the Arkas Art Center, which opened its doors to the public in 2011.