Chinemenma Yoruk and Yilmaz Yoruk

Recorded January 14, 2021 Archived January 13, 2021 40:36 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: mby020324


Yilmaz Suleyman Yoruk (29) and his wife Chinemenma Yoruk (28) talk about the challenges and positives of living during the COVID-19 pandemic. They discuss what it's like to be new parents during quarantine, their experiences as a multi-racial and multi-cultural family, and their hopes for the future.

Subject Log / Time Code

CY Talks about what she and Suleyman were doing just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. SY talks about being an educator during the early stages of quarantine.
CY talks about what it's like to have a child during the pandemic. SY describes some of the unexpected blessings in disguise they've experienced as a result of the quarantine.
CY reflects on some the struggles and issues they've witnessed in the world around them since the pandemic hit. SY and CY both talk about being able to stay connected with people in ways they might not have without the quarantine.
CY talks about the hopes she has for her daughter in the future. They both reflect on the identity of their child, and the intercultural nature of their family.
CY and SY talk about their move to Boston. CY remembers growing up and often being the only black person in certain spaces. SY describes how being a parent has changed his worldview.
CY and SY describe what it was like to see their daughter for the first time. CY talks about wanting to have more of a friendship with her daughter.
SY talks about his family's history, and what it was like to be a child of immigrant parents.
CY talks about balancing work and time with family, and the importance of spending quality time. CY and SY discuss what they want to do once the pandemic has passed.
CY and SY describe some of their favorite things that their daughter does. They share things they'd want their daughter to know years from now. SY: "I want her to know that everything that we did was for her."


  • Chinemenma Yoruk
  • Yilmaz Yoruk

Recording Location

Virtual Recording



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00:01 On York, and I've always gone by my middle name. So I'm on I'm 29 years old and I live in Dedham, Massachusetts originally. I'm from Rochester, New York.

00:14 Currently I'm recording in Hudson, Massachusetts with their in-laws and my conversation partner is chinemenma yoruk and she is my wife.

00:25 Hi, my name is chinemenma yoruk I go by chinni, which is a nickname. I got when I was very little and I don't really ever gone by my full name. So I go by Gene. I am currently 28 years old. That is the last day. I'll be 28 tomorrow. I'll be 29 and today is Thursday, January 14th, 2021. We are in Hudson with my parents at the moment. You came by just to see them. It's been awhile. And this is my husband suleyman, and he isn't my husband.

01:10 And so I guess we decided to do this because this was such as in bed for a little year or thinking back to this time last year, right? It was my birthday and we had gone to see Cats Boston is a very surprising birthday gift. He was like, I thought you liked cats so we went through FEMA disaster.

01:56 However, it was by far the weirdest thing that I've ever experienced an interesting way to start off 28 years old had no inkling of I just found out maybe a month ago that I was pregnant. Quarantining how much yeah, we were in San Francisco at a wedding might one of my best friends was going to get married and we said we'd come out there and then as soon as we came back from San Francisco, it was like the world turned over cuz it was like the end of February we came back right and then March everything starts shutting down, right?

02:54 Yeah.

02:56 San Francisco, so I don't like, you know, I think about that time is almost like before

03:02 Things started getting kind of dark in my mind hasn't changed at all like we found out her gender when we were looking at the fields or Steel Pier.

03:19 All the sudden came back and I wasn't going to work anymore schools. We're still open for a while. Actually. Do you remember that April and it was tough on the students? I have a lot of Serial online anyway, so it wasn't that much of a a transition, but for some of the students that really needed the extra support in person and it if it just wasn't fair for a lot of them, but things worked out well at the end I think we made the necessary adjustments at the school and work continuing to accommodate this year and school Community. I remember it was kind of jarring for everyone when we

04:13 Move to working at home because you know how long it's going to last. I remember that initially it was like, oh, it doesn't affect my baby shower and we can have a nice day baby shower. Remember we were like totally like it's going to be fine like a little clear up and I think now looking back how ridiculous that also convinced. It's weird cuz like reflecting on that. It's almost like

04:55 That mindset of everything's going to be okay.

04:59 I know I still have that to a degree but it's like we've been through the storm and now you're just you know, I'm tired of me like everything's going to be okay eventually, but when is it going to be? Okay. When is it going to go back to normal?

05:21 Call

05:24 Do you think that you've done? Okay, since things have started to drag on I think like around May when it really hit me for a while.

05:37 Thought that we would you do be back at work.

05:43 Fairly soon, I'm at the same time though. I want to ask you. Do you think that we were a little bit luckier? But the timing was our child. Do you think that things turned out okay for us?

06:15 It's funny because I don't know what it's like to have a child. That's not during a pandemic. Right? So now I'll go if you think you're lucky. I don't know I mean

06:30 Based on my experience. Yeah, I feel grateful that we had as much time as we had together given that we were at home and I was a commuting back and forth pregnant. I do feel lucky I guess in that regard, but at the same time there were a lot of a lot of Milestones lot of things that I wanted to celebrate with people that we didn't get to do baby showers when people watching your belly grow and getting weird questions from strangers about like that.. It's in some ways that does make me a little a little sad.

07:12 However

07:14 We were lucky. We had a safe place to live in comes where it's super effective. I buy this like our jobs are pretty stable. And I got my maternity leave in August when she was born and it was the really beautiful time because you were still were on summer break still and there was a lot of bonding that occurred in that time that I think

07:44 You know, we kind of took for granted because you know schools and open back up until late September and she was born in late August. We had a whole extra month time with her that he would have had. Otherwise, by the way, in case it was clear. We we are both Educators and when it comes to

08:12 Awesome, and the baby during the pandemic. I think that we are lucky in a lot of ways as a as a young family and new family. I think that the timing of course wasn't terrible for everybody and I did leave the pandemic affects everybody some more than others and some more severely than others but for us as a family, I do think that there are small blessings in Disguise because had I not gotten the chance to work from home or had I had to work from home to quarantine. I don't think I would have been able to spend as much time with my daughter. I would like to slow down granted things are crazier than ever since we have a little humid to keep alive, but

09:08 You really do have to take time to appreciate each other and the homework building with her.

09:16 Only just because we have no distraction so you can't run out with your friends or there's no event. That's pressing. That's making you want to leave home like really home is becoming

09:30 A place of solitude and Sanctuary right? Because it's the only place that we can be safe and we're together in building some new memories.

09:44 It's strange because now I think about what it would look like to go back to normal and I'm almost like hesitant because it's

09:55 Look so precious what we've been able to achieve since she's been born a large part of that has to do with a perspective needed to change, you know.

10:18 Gratitude that out that I was you know, I think considering all things working out well for us and we do have job security. I can't say that for everybody. I know there are economies really not doing well and I'm seeing the pressure that people are facing I'm feeling it too and it's it's really I can sense the hurt and I see it on the news and I might hear my friends about their families and more friends who lost loved ones.

11:15 It's really hard not to the card yet. It's hard not to.

11:20 I feel that way just start to feel a little hopeless. But I think what you're good at like cuz I often maybe 6 cuz I'm so busy with the baby while you have work to distract you I start hearing all these things and it's easy to get like down because it's funny cuz it's like this beautiful time and you're supposed to be sharing this beautiful new person with everyone you love and

11:47 It's hard to stay positive about everything when you're hearing all the sadness is going on and you feel helpless has to like what you can do to assuage it for your friends cuz you're stuck at home. If you can't even you know, you can't go in like hug them or send them.

12:10 MTG sort of

12:13 Gesture but when we call and we talk on the phone, it does feel a little better. You hear another person's voice kind of from your own little pocket by Sophie Simmons.

12:28 It's almost like a light in the darkness. Every time I hear someone else's voice of the Allina any of your relationships have gotten stronger since the pandemic started.

12:45 I know that there's a lot of social distancing. But at any time did you did you think of it as physical distancing instead of social distancing because I think it has forced a lot of free time that we had especially if they're getting it was summertime. I wasn't working at the time cuz we were on summer break things were going slow for you at work. So we had a lot of time and we were just waiting you were pregnant at the time.

13:18 So I think it definitely allowed us to reach out and call her friends about more often especially ones from college that we haven't talked in years.

13:29 It's true. I mean everyone was checking on each other. Especially I think I was pregnant people were particularly worried and I don't think I could have got there with all of the laws that we talked to my friends and families like the amount of people who sent us gifts that sent us well wishes and can like who called to check up on us. I wonder if that would have been the same had a pandemic not been around. I do feel closer to a couple of my good friends because we call and check on each other more often.

14:06 Mostly just because the fact that

14:15 Try to Stave off boredom as long as we can but it is it's true the people who you really care about how I feel like I reached out.

14:28 The friends that I had that have reached out to me. I really do feel like our friendships are stronger. Even though were 3 hours apart. She's in Samsung messages keeps calling and I know that she's a socialite and she needs that social interaction. I could hang out with the book in my room to talk to her and see me that interaction I go out of my way to do that. Then it does feel good. This feels good. Once we start laughing and forget about all the problems. I just found out that she's having a baby next August and it's just like she's like, what you going to do?

15:16 It's beautiful and those light moments really do make this time special.

15:28 Becoming a parent in the middle of all of this has

15:34 Absolutely.

15:37 It's so strange. I don't know. How do you feel about I think that long-term My Hope Is that long-term this not going to be too much of an impact on her daughter? She's not able to socialize with other babies and people as much as we'd like. She sees our grandparents. So we hope that this is not going to cause any issues.

16:09 But I really do think and I hope that things will get back to normal so that we can take her to go get ice cream and go to the park and see our friends without having to do too much planning out of timing without having many limitations. I have a question for you.

16:31 After this is all over when things hopefully soon in the long term.

16:47 So like this is yours download. I want her to be happy. I want her to feel like she

16:58 Can

17:01 Do and be whatever she wants and that it's up to her. You know, I don't want to feel like I have Eddie's roof saying who she wants to be here where she wants to go. I want her to feel.

17:17 Self-actualizing that way like I know what I want. I'm going to go in to fill whatever dream and desire that I wanted to do, you know, and so I think it's up to us as parents to Foster that you heard from Courage her to like find all of those bits and pieces of herself that make her spark that make her happy. So you think that's going to be easy for her to do or a little bit more difficult given the amount of diversity. She hasn't seen her parents. I think it's a good thing. She has so many avenues that she can pursue and her culture and background is going to open doors for her racial interface in her cultural.

18:10 Identity

18:18 Mono-Mono, whatever, there's a lot of

18:29 Second generation immigrants

18:34 We are second. I don't know my family has been here forever if my grandmother was American so but at the same time, you know, I know people were worried when we first got married. I really think that's an advantage and I've always seen it as an advantage we get to see so many more perspectives and I think that makes us see the world clearer than most people cuz people who only have one point of view my only see the world through the lens of their family and their one

19:08 In a race or gender culture right dots

19:16 Limiting

19:18 But I've had to see the world as nigerian-american. I've seen my world as an immigrant. I've seen through your lies is a Turkish Muslim in.

19:31 Massachusetts in what that's experience has been like for you just like you've seen my world as a Nigerian American Christian in Massachusetts. And then when I travel it's really interesting too and I miss miss travel more than anything in the world. I think our perspectives would expand. So I was encouraged that I mean when we moved up here was to do more travel first graduated from college. We lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and

20:00 Hot English and as much as I enjoyed that and I knew that I wanted to be in the more diversity and I see that has more National the Boston had everything, you know and having grown up in this area.

20:20 It was really interesting to come back as an adult get the full experience here. I hope it's eBenefits. Do you think this is a good place for her to grow up? I do feel better. I mean we were kind of at the time when we were married. She was still up too early our relationship, but I am glad that we moved up north. I think things will be easier for her.

20:59 Cuz I'm sorry the way things were a little bit different, North Carolina.

21:19 Poor

21:27 More opportunity you realize that more once you come up here you stay here for a while. He's so it looks really doesn't better than but it's like growing up here.

21:55 I was the only black kid in my my entire school for like years and it doesn't register with you until you have an experience that makes you feel out there. And so I'm hoping you know given that our country is going through this Reckoning that it is going through the black lives matter movement and the protest and people finally like realizing, you know, this is something that

22:26 Like having no understanding of racism having no understanding of how it affects people with longer acceptable right now that that become part of the public conversation in

22:41 It won't be like that for our daughter. She will have like Miley how will have like people who are aware as opposed to when you were a kid and he pulled make jokes about Muslims and you just have to sit there and be uncomfortable experience. I think she'll be able to sing like, hay like there's no excuse for ignorance anymore. Right? Excuse for stupid jokes, because

23:07 At the end of the day

23:10 But you understand the consequences of what you're saying and what you're doing because

23:17 They were hurtful because I'm a full human being just as you are. There's no reason for.

23:25 For us to treat each other as anything less than that.

23:29 Has being a parent affected how you see?

23:35 The world

23:37 Has it affected how you feel about those issues and stuff?

23:42 I had a lot of anxiety before becoming the parents with the anticipation of having to navigate and help my daughter by biracial daughter navigate to World. I just at the time when I had that anxiety if I was having a son or daughter, but the idea of having a child who would be going through things that I've ever experienced.

24:15 Difficult experiences that high-class felt helpless and experiences that I know that I couldn't empathize and I couldn't necessarily talk them through I just didn't feel ready for that. And that was the biggest source of anxiety when having a child, but now that she's born now that she's here with us.

24:38 Now that I'm a father at night, it's giving me strength and it's giving me fits giving me what you can wear on his birthday. I started yet. I started working through those things and I think the patience is something that we've just had been forced to develop these sleepless nights.

25:12 But it's funny. Like I thought I would be much more stressed out.

25:16 Especially around all those things like but now that I see her I'm like I would do anything for this child. I already do that. But like I think it's really like, oh, that's what everyone's the talking about that feeling of

25:34 Endless devotion

25:41 Do you remember?

25:43 What it felt like when you first saw her.

25:50 Love at first sight.

25:58 I've only experienced that once before in my life. Not like this one. It wasn't it wasn't immediately.

26:12 Since I heard her

26:26 Do you think?

26:28 That you will raise her daughter kind of the way that your parents have raised you and would you do anything differently?

26:38 My brilliant friend. I think it was hard for parents. Right? Like my mama just come here from Nigeria and my dad they both had lived through the Biafra War which is a civil war that happened in Nigeria and

26:55 I think I left it scars on them and their mentality when they came here was

27:03 Work really hard and my kids work really hard that don't be successful and that will solve all of our problems granted a lot of free time. We played a lot we can worry about anything or parents took good care of my friends take good care of us and I appreciate everything, you know, every parent would work as hard as. So make sure that would happen.

27:34 However, I think the individual attention if there's four of us, you're really busy working. You know, how much attention can you give to four kids each one individually, but I think that's where I'm going to really kind of harp harp on with my kid is just giving them and fostering building the relationship that an individual relationship with her or I really know her but she really knows me a parental relationship. Of course.

28:14 I want us to feel.

28:19 More like a closeness more than friendship because I feel like there's a lot more pressure from

28:36 From other things and I fear there's no room for failure cuz they work so hard for you to be here.

28:49 So there's no room to allow for mistakes. And that was what I really.

28:57 As a kid, so I want to give her a room for mistakes.

29:03 It might have bringing I find voice. I appreciate you like I do feel like we got all the attention from YouTube from my mother. She's just a super.

29:25 And my father of course was very busy, grandfather and I consider myself lucky because my brothers and I we spent a lot of time with them at work, you know, we learn from their hard work and then and perseverance so that my family has a couple Office Buildings in Rochester New York. My grandfather came to America and the wonderful stories are true about the ideas in the textile industry working in the factory with that big movement movement of trucks to the Rochester, New York.

30:28 An operation but actually worked his way up to

30:36 Office Buildings on Penn Plaza.

30:47 Yeah, but not as much attention. I do I do I did feel that way at times. But I also want to acknowledge that they had to make a sacrifice and

31:02 That lack of attention that we got as children of immigrants. I think was necessary in order for us to survive, but I don't think that they should regret it.

31:24 But I do so appreciate all that I do.

31:36 They did everything they need to do, you know, it's not specially knowing that you had a weird name and opportunities don't come to you easily you have to fight for them and I can imagine that pressure right and having been having a whole huge family to take care of it stuff.

32:03 It's really tough. But I know right like giving that they work so hard like we should work just as hard to make sure that she doesn't feel any of the things that maybe we

32:16 Burnt super happy about his kids. That's my goal is to make sure do you have do you have any concern about us working too hard?

32:31 Not having enough time to spend with her.

32:36 Health concerns much as like

32:40 I mean

32:42 I know she is my priority.

32:46 I know you feel like she's your priority and that's why you work so hard. So it's all coming from the same love but I also know it's manifesting in different ways write your idea of Love is working hard cuz that's what you grew up seeing right people work hard. That's how they show they love you. I also believe that but I also know the time you spend with people matters because Love Is A Verb Mary I said it to you a long time ago what you do to show love.

33:19 Matters more than just say I love you because in the end if you don't feel it then

33:27 It's just words and their empty. So I think I don't worry about us working too hard, cuz I know in the end when we are together, it's quality time, right all of us come together, and we do last time we play and it's beautiful. It's my favorite parts of our days where I do worry sometimes goodbye.

33:52 The working in the money in the making sure that were quote-unquote. Okay. I just I think that that can oftentimes blind people and it keeping up with the Joneses becomes the name of the game as opposed to just making a life that you like living life is beautiful to you think of the home right? I talked a lot about that with you. I say no like we have to focus on building listen to the home we want as opposed to just at the house that we live in like what things will make you like home as opposed to

34:26 This is working. Where is this function? That's where I get kind of bog down and we kind of maybe miscommunicate but I think it's getting easier as we we work together. And now with you on paternity leave. I think it's going to be great. Like you'll have a lot more time to see what I'm talking about. You got plenty of work to do there.

34:54 And it's not going to not going to be easy cuz you're going to start to see all like this is why she's always exhausted.

35:01 Is this work different kind of work?

35:05 In the final minutes that we have. Do you have any?

35:11 Any questions

35:17 Dying of

35:20 Yeah, once.

35:29 Restaurants any restaurant

35:33 I'm dying. Things are really taking our kids to get ice cream. You know what I can do that.

36:06 I can't wait to see her face.

36:15 What's going to be the highlight of whatever this is?

36:24 But until then.

36:25 She love story books. She like looks like those books like it's Windows into the world. So

36:32 That's the way of showing her the world right now, even though we're at home 99% of right now at 5 months old for months and 3 weeks. Do Russia laughed so hard when you tickle her stomach when you like make a rat poop blow raspberries.

37:11 And the way that she could lose at things when she's really interested. It's Priceless when you get up in the morning and walk over to her room in the crib and she's fidgeting and scared and alone and then as soon as she sees you she has the biggest smile on her face.

37:42 Even with the tears in her eyes.

37:47 That feeling it. I hope that never goes away. I hope that she sees us like that forever.

37:56 I think they like the best part of

38:03 When she wakes up and sees you for the first time that day is like knowing that you're what she's looking forward to like no one else. There's nothing else in her whole world yet.

38:15 And whatever ridiculous games are going to play with her.

38:21 And that's what makes me the most happy and that's why I don't want to miss a second of it work be damned. If I never get to my work that we spend with hers Magic.

38:44 Did you remind me to feel like this?

38:56 Be proud of yourself.

39:09 Last minute that you two have but if there was one thing that you would want her to know many many years from now from you both about her about her life for about now or how you feel about her. What was that thing be?

39:25 How much does Mattis?

39:29 How happy she's made us how much she's made us complete how much we love her.

39:35 How everything we do and have done even before she was proposed.

40:00 I knew I wanted to do it when I was 28 years old on why that was a specific age. But like as soon as I was 28

40:14 She came at the exact right time the exact moment. I wanted her. It was such a huge plastic and I feel so lucky that she is the person who she is because

40:24 I can't even imagine my world about her now.