Author’s Note: Throughout the month of July, I ran a contest called, “Is There a Legacy in Your Midst?” Individuals nominated a friend or family member to receive a complimentary 30-minute interview and document package from Lasting Legacies. Ms. Valya Shapiro was randomly drawn as the winner. She owns and operates Turnkey Living, Inc., an interior design company outside of Boston, Massachusetts. During our interview, I was impressed by her thoughtful responses and her poignant storytelling ability. I think that you will find the following excerpt of her quest to find freedom through education compelling and inspiring.

Dalene Bickel: Valya, I was hoping that you could share about your childhood in Turkey.

Valya Shapiro: I was born in Istanbul to a Jewish family whose ancestors left Spain in 1492 after the Inquisition, so I have an approximate 500-year history in Turkey. It’s a history which, unfortunately when I grew up, was tumultuous for me.

I was a young child during World War II. Even though Turkey ultimately decided not to enter the War, my father was taken to a concentration camp anyway. It began as a tax that was imposed on all Turkish citizens, but the minority groups (there were three small segments of us in Turkey – Greeks, Armenians, and Jews) were taxed beyond what they could afford. If they could not pay the full amount, they were taken away. Read More