One year ago, when I decided to start my Turkish studies, I already knew that I had to spend the Summer of 2017 in Turkey, in order to experience their challenging language, renowned history and hospitable culture firsthand. Not long after I started looking for opportunities among working camps, volunteering or some seasonal job, the decision fell on the volunteering within the System & Generation’s project NesilFest. To me the project’s tasks were perfectly designed to fulfill my needs, but as well as to express and inspect my ideas in the process of education.

Serving tea in the ‘Clock Tower’ situated in the Ankara’s municipality of Keçioren gave me an overview that drinking tea in Turkey is a major action for bringing people on the table, discuss, develop conversational skills, have a calm afternoon after lunch, get a rest from work whereupon one will drink up to dozen cups of tea. In addition to that, I learnt that the tea has even much deeper meaning in the morning. The Turkish question: ‘Is tea ready?’ means ‘Is breakfast ready?’ which is by all means something spectacular to witness. It is the most important food intake moment during the day. An undeniably tasty Turkish breakfast consists of a wide array of various foods such as 2-3 kinds of cheese, kaymak (creamy cheese), 3 types of olives, eggs, sausages, meatballs, pepper spread, bread, butter, honey, 2 kinds of jam, börek (pie) and most probably something more. Along with all this, a few pots of tea can be drunk in period of a day that such long meal I could consider it as a well deserved dinner after an exhausting day. But, here the procedures are different; “You nourish your soul in order to listen to you”.

The breakfast specialized restaurant ‘Deniz Kozanlı’ was in charge for our traditional Turkish morning feast a.k.a. kahvaltılık.

Another segment of doing my EVS in Ankara was participating in the project ‘Building bridges for refugee children’ from the war torn countries. The key role of this action is to help them integrate in society through learning Turkish language as well as helping them to overcome the shortage of clothes, medicine and providing a support in case of social hardship, which I believe they encounter very often. While spending a couple of hours with them in Keçioren’s youth center, we were helping them learn English by playing games and discovering their favorite topics to talk about, in order to prepare them for their future prospects and endeavors. Furthermore, we delivered workshops with the intention to develop and foster their talents in various artistic expressions. We want to show them numerous ways of how to usefully invest their vibrant spirits and as quick as possible find what they love doing the most and employing it in a prospective future.

One can never know its abilities until they try.

On the other side, I am very much interested in exchanging the roles with them. We are certain that they need us to cope with the obstacles in their lives and they are aware that we would do so whenever they ask it from us. But, what if we ask from them some help in things that we are curious. Personally, I am willing to learn some Arabic and would love them to teach me. In my opinion, such moment would make them feel helpful, needed, worthy and hopefully would grow a sense of educating a person eager for the knowledge they possess. Showing them interest for who they are and what they know brings us together and helps us for mutual understanding. At last, together we stand, divided we fall.

Vladimir Jovanovski