On July 29, 2013, I arrived in Turkey for the first time, never having visited the country before and about to start the next year teaching English in this country and many other countries in the years to follow.

What I discovered was a country that seemed to match who I am — a modern Muslim with Western thinking and the values instilled by a Muslim upbringing.

What I hadn’t bargained for was meeting someone who changed my plans and gave me a reason to stay on in this country.

I had spent the better part of my life living, working and raising a family in New York after leaving my birthplace Singapore and my Indonesian-Arab relatives behind.  And now I found myself single again, having left a rewarding career in American public service and a grown son in Brooklyn soon to be married.

So, a year after living and working in Istanbul, I put down roots, found a new apartment, a new career as a university teacher and began my new life in Turkey.

This is now my time to stretch, to discover and to learn.