Interview With an Immigrant - Urbino Project 2015
Could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Serdar Karaçam. I’m 27, and I am from Çorum. Firstly, welcome to Urbino; a small, but adorable and beautiful city. I have been in Italy for six years, I came here after finishing military service through my relatives’ reference. After that I found myself in Urbino. I have been living in Urbino for approximately 2 years. I started this business with my friend. We are working now, of course it’s nice to do something in life. Achieving something is nice but if it is halal.
You have been in Italy for 6 years, what did you do before Urbino?
I worked as a computer technician in Florence, Toscana. The company I worked for stopped because of the crisis in Italy. When my company stopped, I inevitably felt compelled to do something for myself. There is a Turkish proverb about this: “Hazıra dağ dayanmaz” (Wealth, whether inherited or saved, without continued earnings, cannot last forever even if it was in heaps as high as mountains.) After thinking, I took the road, tried to find my destiny and found it, thanks Allah.
How and why you decided to go Italy?
I took this decision under the influence of my relatives who live abroad. I saw the potential of their work, their dedication to it, and that encouraged me to come to Italy. If you want to do something, you have to want it. If you really want to do something, you can do everything. The key is “wishes and feelings”. We Turks have potential to explore and recognize innovation. When I saw my surroundings from Europe, I thought I could do ıt. Maybe more than them. I wanted determination and effort, that’s why I came to Italy. When my relatives who work abroad visit us, I saw their assets. That’s why I came to Italy, because of advantages.
What do you feel about working away from family, how often do you visit them?
My family lives in Turkey, working away from the family is really hard. We call “homesickness” and “longing” to this situation. Although the dıstance ıs long, wıth mountains between us; the important thing is feeling same things although we have different hearts. If I’m here and if I can do something for my family, blessed me. I am delighted that I can do something for them, I am gaining both for me and for them. I usually visit them once or twice a year, sometimes also three times. Inevitably, they miss me, they are my family after all. You’re a student here at the moment, your family will welcome you proudly when you will get back. You are studying in different country, you are representing us, this is a big honor. It is the same for us.
Did you think to work for a kebab store before?
I never thought about that before, I had different plans for my future. I achieved them when I worked for the company I was talking to you about, but when it stopped I had to find another way to reach my purposes with this job.
Do you have a chance to return to your old job?
If the company starts working again, I will definitely come back.
Why did you choose Urbino? How could you find Urbino?
I came here through my friend. I had never been here before. I first met my friend when I used to live in Modena-Bologna. When my company stopped, I said to him let’s look for something somewhere else. Then he offered me to open a kebab shop and I thought it was convenient for me. Lots of people are making kebab, but the important thing is finding the right point. Like Italian pizza, we have kebab. For example, you cannot find the taste of the pizza you eat in Naples anywhere else. Kebab is ours, the “Turkish kebab”. The important thing is showing up with fingers.
How is the worklife in Italy?
They say there is a crisis in Italy but, for me, the problem is that taxes are high. When you open a business in Turkey, you do not pay taxes during the first year, because you have to develop first. Turkey has the support of state but in Italy there is not. But we have to work, life goes on.
How Urbino people and business owners welcomed you, did they accept you?
They are very good and friendly people. When we came here, all tradesmans came and welcomed us. Because, if you do good things, you offer people good things, you win a nice place in people’s hearts. I am happy for myself, when people come to my shop or when they meet me on the road they salute me. This means I’m doing good things. I am proud of it.
What are the ingredients in kebab, how do you make kebab, where do you buy ingredients, nutritional information?
It depends according to the meat. For example, some people make the kebab using beef, chicken, turkey; some people mix them. Some people make kebab using ground beef. Of course there are sauces and spices in it. The important thing in the kebab is the sauce. We now have the factory system in Europe, bringing produced kebab in factory that is different from the system in Turkey. Nutritional value is also high like its calories.
Do the tourists like Istanbul Kebap? Turkish tourists?
I can say yes. When people go to different places they want to discover something. They want to taste, they want to try. We are trying to provide quality. If we make low quality products, tourists and also people living in Urbino will walk away from us. They like us because of our quality. Turkish tourists visit us too. They are happy when they see us here, because we are Turks. We represent Turkey. Visitors are proud us, say thank you on behalf of our country, it is important for us.
Can you tell us information about your customers’ qualification?
Urbino is a small city where there are 15 faculties. Since there are 15 faculties, I cannot say that university students are “natives of Urbino”. Approximately 70% of our customers are students. The remaining 30% of customers are Urbino’s natives and tourists.
How Istanbul Kebab affected your life?
it has not changed so much, because I’m doing my job. I want to work, I am a person who likes working. If you want to change your life you have to work and you will succeed.
What are your future plans?
I am planning to do different things. Hopefully, we will open a second, a third shop. We are looking for places in touristic areas like Torino, Venice; in coastal regions, such as Rimini, Pescara. You always win in big cities. Now I’m planning to create my own business, I want it. Maybe it will be a computer company.
Is there anything you want to add ?
Life is good, the biggest mistake in life is wasting time in vain. Therefore, we have to know the value of the time and the value of our life. We will work, we will work hard. Do not stop, keep moving. I also want students to work hard for their exams and lessons. If students are happy, we will be happy too. Because we wholeheartedly want people to win Because it’s inside us, in our culture.