Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Training Course
Venue: Erzurum, Turkey
Dates: 20 – 27 November 2016
Participants: Kristýna Veselková, Michal Veselka, Jan Jindra
Hosting organisation: ERZURUM AKTİF GENÇLİK GRUBU
Participating organisations: Latvia, Spain, Romania, Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic, Turkey, Bulgaria
Learning about democracy in Turkey?
A lot of people wouldn’t believe in that. That’s maybe a reason why it is harder to find participants for projects in Turkey. Or maybe it is the question of safety? Many people told me to be careful. Well, I can say only this: I haven’t been scared at all there; Turkish people were extremely helpful and protective. Still, I wouldn’t go outside in the night alone nor doesn’t the number of policemen make you feel sure about the possibility of danger. However, it is just different culture and when you respect them; you don’t have to be scared.
Our project took place in Erzurum, city in mountains in the centre of the east side of the country. And the mountains were really sensible. There were snow and ice all around us. Luckily, the hotel was always very warm. I was quite surprised about the food. The first time I have been on a project in Turkey, the food was literally amazing, this time we had quite a problem with a lot of unhealthy food. However, I’ve never been hungry. Our rooms were nice but the girls have a problem with showers. It took some time to have warm water (please ecologist, forgive us) and there was no curtain so after the shower all bathroom looked like a lake.
The project itself was great really; the activities were one of the best I’ve ever tried. We were trying many different workshops that helped us to start discussion about participation, active citizenship or preparation of project and its leading. Some of them were serious; some of them were very amusing. We were creative, we played theatre, we were pretending to be a NGO, and so on… and the other participants, well, it was absolutely the best part of everything. We were so colourful. From the extreme liberals to the people who were very sensitive in question of minorities and discrimination. We all came differently experienced and we had to confront our opinions. The discussions were mostly very constructive with strong and interesting arguments. To sum up, I really can see how it is necessary to develop our critical thinking.
Since the workshops were quite challenging because we had to stand for our opinions, we needed to rest as well. So we have got two free afternoons. First of them, we spent together. Our hosts organized for us a trip to the mountains where we have seen breath-taking views and played in snow. The other free time we spent more separated. We went to the city where we were observing the city life: shopping, coffee, tea, hookah, kebab, baklava etc. But also we have seen almost every woman with scarf, more men than women working, no one respecting the rule of queue or Syrian refuge-child selling tissues. Very colourful is the Turkey.
The nights we spent sometimes outside in the bars or sitting in the restaurant. There was Turkish as well as foreign music. Tape and live. Expensive alcohol and smoke everywhere! I mean everywhere. And everything was closing at midnight. However, we continued with fun at hotel talking or playing games.
Long story short; even though it doesn’t look as the most comfortable time, it was actually one of the best projects. It was different and interesting and definitely worthy. I recommend everyone to visit this country and spend time with local people. The only suggestion, prepare yourself that no one speaks English!