Everything started by writing my name and filing in an application. Just like that I was suddenly in Mersin, Turkey with people from all over the world. Each single person had their own story, past, goals, achievements and even their own language. We were all so different but we shared the same purpose. This team, that was created in Kızkalesi a little town in southeastern Turkey was ready to fight for our human rights.
Youth Exchanges bring the ideals of global citizenship to life, which was the main target of the project, as well as to raise awareness among youngsters on youth policies, on active and democratic participation and to increase their knowledge on youth rights. All participants were eager and curious about youth rights, democracy and cultural diversity, which helped easily ascertain the projects’ goals. This was accomplished with non-formal education such as theater-drama methods and electorial simulations. For most participants it was the first time they had ever used alternative ways of education, which helped to motivate them, as well as to make them see eveything from a different perspective. Research also took place and provided information to the young participants empowering them to actively take part in local decision making mechanisms. By expanding their knowledge it is more likely that they will contribute and augment their participation in social, civil and democratic structures, but also to become individuals with advanced citizenship awareness. It was actually a great way of understanding democracy, as everybody shared their ideas and opinions and everything was taken into consideration.
Beyond that we all interacted, met new cultures, traditions, manners and customs. The project gave us also the chance to experience everyday life in diverse cultures and gain a new understanding of the world through traveling abroad. Every nationality had to offer something new and different, something never seen by others. The intercultural nights gave us the oppurtunity to show a little part of ourselves and the nice thing was, that it wasn’t only totally accepted, but encouraged and embraced. The friendly atmosphere and the open-minded people made you feel safe and ready to show your real self without any hesitations. I remember the nights, dancing, singing, playing new games learning by other fellow peers, swimming, sitting on the beach, looking at the stars and just talking, laughing, helping eachother without even knowing. We created our own traditions (dancing tri poloski and going swimming every night), our own ideal and peaceful community. We got to know each person, some more than others, maybe some had more in commun but no one was excluded we all were totally respected just “Because!” (as we said).
We were mashed into a united team and built relations that hopefully will never fade away… As I believe that when the moment comes and we meet up we will easily be able to continue our friendship from where we left it. Yet again, thanks to technology we can still continue our relationships, our international friendships! These kinds of projects mold the new generation of our societies, as they are forging the way to becoming young ambassadors for peace and international understanding. The advantages do not end there! We now have friends from all over the world waiting and hoping to see eachother someday and knowing that we will because when someone wants something, he gets it.
I would like to thank the trainers, the organizations and every person that contributed and made this happen from the depths of my heart. It is an experience -I am certain- we will never forget and that influenced us in deeply and differently, the way each person needed it. I even remember the feeling after the project when I realized that I started thinking in a whole different way, like I was young and now mature. How can 10 days have such an impact on a person? I can not explain…but you can live it on your own! Do not be scared or bored or anything else (as I have heard many excuses)! I beg you to take part in these exciting programs and I hope you have even a better time than me!
The only trick is to be YOURSELF!