[Readings] | A Sport and a Passport | Harper's Magazine
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October 2017 Issue [Readings]

A Sport and a Passport


From an interview conducted by Swiss authorities with Fulden Funda Yilmaz, a woman who was born to Turkish parents in Switzerland. Yilmaz applied for citizenship earlier this year, passed the written exam, and underwent two rounds of interviews with municipal councilors in Buchs. In July, Buchs rejected Yilmaz’s application, noting that she “lives in a small world and shows no interest in entering a dialogue with Switzerland and its population.” Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Fulden Funda Yilmaz. I’m twenty-four. I work as a drafter in Aarau, where I went to school. I’ve recently become engaged. My hobbies are running with my dogs and doing pole fitness once a week. I like being outside in nature.

Why do you want to naturalize?

My fiancé persuaded me. I was born here. He said it would be good if I could vote. I don’t plan to emigrate.

What do you do in your free time? You aren’t in any associations or clubs.

I do sports. On the weekend I go out, go to the movies, get a drink.

Do you know any of the Buchser soccer teams?

Not many.

What does Buchs offer for leisure activities?

Soccer and gymnastics clubs. You can take a tour of the Chocolat Frey factory or of Mibelle Biochemistry.

Where might you inform yourself about such things?

On the Buchs website, or there’s surely a brochure in the community center.

And with something that comes to your house?

The Buchser Herald.

Do you know of any public events in Buchs?

The flea market in Wynecenter, once a month.

What about something that you experienced during school?

I went to school in Rohr.

It also happens in Rohr.

The youth festival, yes.

What, for you, is typically Swiss?

The Alps. They’re world-famous. And Toblerone. Chocolate is really well known.

What about typical Swiss sports?

The name isn’t coming to mind . . . Chlausklöpfen.

Yes, that is a regional custom. But what about typical Swiss sports?

Skiing, but that exists everywhere.

Schwingen, and Hornussen. Have you been on vacation in Switzerland before?

I went to a ski camp once. Otherwise I’ve been on day trips to lakes. Lake Zurich, Lake Lucerne, Lake Geneva. Mainly lakes.

What would you show a visitor?

It depends on the time of year. In the spring and the summer, for example, there’s Lake Lucerne, or sightseeing in the city.

What sightseeing would that be?

The old town. The sights themselves I wouldn’t know. The little town looks pretty, but to be honest I don’t know any of the history.

You said that the Alps are typically Swiss. What Alps do you know?

I’m not great with names. Matterhorn . . .

Where is that?

I don’t know off the top of my head. Zermatt? Engelberg?

Do you know any other Alps?

None come to mind.

What would change for you personally if you were to receive a Swiss passport?

I was born here and know no other life. The only thing would be that I could vote. Otherwise everything really stays the same.