ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: youth exchange
Venue: Aksaray, Turkey
Dates: 27 November—3 December 2022
National team: Karolína Luscoňová (GL), Nina Kateřina Ratajská, Markéta Überhuberová, Tereza Janáková, Pavel Mrzena, Matěj Valenta, Radek Janata
Please read the info-pack.
Hosting organisation: Aksaray Youth Volunteers
Culture shock? Erasmus in Aksaray
We went on this project at the end of autumn, to catch the last few rays of sunshine in the Turkish town of Aksaray. There were seven of us in the team, only one representative was on the project for the first time. I think that speaks volumes about how great an opportunity the projects are.
Representatives from Macedonia, Romania, Lithuania and, of course, the hosting Turkish team took part in the project together with us. The atmosphere and energy in the Czech team was absolutely great and together we made an amazing team that complemented each other.
The project we went on was called Explore Your Power – Step Into The Future. After reading the info-pack we already knew that this was going to be a really busy program where we would not have a chance to stop. And we were definitely not wrong! The first day started like most projects with introductions and ice-breaking activities. The group functions much better as a team after these activities and the individuals are much more open. Of course, this also comes with speaking in English, which we used more than our mother tongue. No one is perfect though, so when a word or phrase is forgotten, someone from the Czech team was always close by, or hand-to-hand is always a sure thing. During the project, we also learned a few phrases from foreign languages, although the correct pronunciation of Turkish really gave us a hard time.
A big thank you also goes to the organizers of the whole project – Kerem and Fatim, who prepared the whole program in detail. For example, we visited the Aksaray Employment Office and got acquainted with the social system in Turkey. We also tasted home-made lavash at “retraining” courses where women learn different skills, from cooking, embroidery, childcare to carpet making. In the second half of the week, we attended a lecture by the Industrial Authority, ensuring not only new jobs in Aksaray, but also the development of the entire region. One day we arranged a group trip to Cappadocia so we could experience another beautiful part of Turkey again.
As part of our joint activities, the team discussed social problems in our country, inspired each other and looked for solutions to complex political issues.
One of the best things that the Erasmus+ programme can offer you is a real authentic experience of a country’s culture. Wondering why the article is called culture shock? You arrive in a smaller town, somewhere in the middle of Turkey, you don’t understand the language, you don’t know the customs, the toilet doesn’t look like the one you have at home, you’re even a bit scared to watch TV sometimes and Turkey doesn’t seem like a place you want to spend your time. But you go anyway. And as a result? It’s an absolutely great week where you learn an incredible amount of new information, improve your English, go to the Turkish Hammam and try a different great Turkish meal every night. In the end, you don’t even want to go home.
Thank you to the whole EYCB team for facilitating the project. With every participation we become more open-minded people who have a greater desire to explore. We are already watching where we will go next!