Can and Yigit from Turkey joined ESC voluntarism project in Ioannina, at our organisation Youth Center of Epirus. The project "Dream of ESC Volunteers S02" was coordinated and supported by the organisation Mozaik Human Resources Development, based in Samsun, Turkey.
Their main activities were to implement recreational and non-formal educational activities for asylum seeker children and teenagers, and to work on digital content creation on asylum seeker integration related themes and cultural heritage of the region of Epirus. Below, you can read some of their testimonies and see photos of their experience in Ioannina!
From the day I arrived here I felt it is going to be an amazing adventure for me even though it is not my first time in Greece. Ioannina is a peaceful, small, and alive city. Students take up a huge part of the population which is approximately 100.000. Ioannina fascinated me with its unique architecture, life, and culture when compared to other European cities from the first day. Moreover, you can see the effects of the Ottoman Empire’s occupation deeply with stone houses, a Mosque which takes its name from Ali Pasha, and streets…
Even though Ioannina is not a well-known city some projects for asylum seekers and refugees are leaded by some international and local organizations. There are some camps and facilities where asylum seekers and refugees live. And Youth Center of Epirus which organization I am working for assumed some responsibilities in this field to help asylum seekers and refugees with their co-workers and volunteers. People from different countries work together with full of passion to improve the life of asylum seekers at the office.
I played some roles as a content creator and video editor at the office since I enrolled in the project. Due to past experiences and my knowledge in this field, I helped them as much as possible. On the other hand, I have managed 2 different YouTube channels of the organization as a video editor, cameraman, and interviewer. So far, we have accomplished good achievements. In addition, I have worked on some content for social media and prepared visual designs for the organization.
My perspective on life and tolerance improved due to working in a multicultural environment and solving problems during the service. My sensibility and awareness are increased on some topics that I was ignoring or complaining about. To be honest, I can say that this project was kind of a break-even point in my life because I turned into myself and become a more independent, happier, and mature person. Moreover, I learned how to deal with struggles and problems during the process, and instead of giving up or crying when I was faced with a situation learned how to get up and find a solution.
Finally, I can say that this marvelous city covered my need and missing for spending time in nature. I went to the lake or forest in order to spend time in nature by myself to heal my soul. On the other hand, this returning to innocence lit a candle in my mind, and started thinking about what I can do for the environment. Then I participated in a planting tree activity organized by the Youth Center of Epirus, Town Hall, and other local associations. Moreover, I am thinking about some individual projects for saving the planet.
After I graduate from my university field, I decided to get a unique experience in a different country and I wanted to improve my English skills. That’s why I applied for this project. I came to a small and peaceful city named Ioannina. Our main mission was to make nonformal educational activities at a facility for unaccompanied asylum seeker minors .
When I started the job, the first day that I went to the facility was a little complicated because It was very crowded, everyone was screaming without purpose and there was really loud music. When I saw these things on my first day, I thought these 6 months will be the hardest 6 months of my life. But I was wrong It became the best 6 months of my life. We were creating some games and activities for the minors like cooking day, painting day, Board games, crafting, sports, and movie afternoon. My favorite activity was football like the minors. While we were making these activities, at the same time we should work on our content creation project. Each volunteer should find a topic about the region or asylum seekers, and they should create an article, video, presentation, or something like that. My first project was to write an article about the Language Adaptation of The Asylum Seekers, It took 2 months. I mentioned the importance of the language for asylum seekers, what are the challenges of learning a language, and how can we overcome them. My second project was about the story of asylum seekers, I researched a lot of stories on the internet and I learned the difficulties of being an asylum seeker. Since I came here, as I saw a lot of cultural similarities between Turkey and Greece I decided to make a presentation about these similarities.
During the volunteering project, I had the chance to travel to Europe easily. To travel abroad alone was one of my dreams. I made a little Europe tour from Thessaloniki, Vienna, Prag, Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, Milano, Rome, and Corfu. I found the cheapest tickets and I managed it. I had the chance to meet with people from abroad like from Canada, Poland, Italy, Spanish, Bulgaria, Germany, and England. I stayed in shared rooms, It made it easier to meet people. I traveled to the places I want to see for long time. I tasted the food that belongs to these countries, I walked in the streets. This tour took 3 weeks, that’s why in the end I was so tired I should have made another holiday to have a rest.
Briefly, coming here was the best decision of my life. Everything was perfect, The city, volunteers, and workers. Everyone was so kind and helpful. The mission was so chill I have never felt under pressure, It was so relaxing. Since I stayed with people from other countries (actually mostly from France) at the apartment, I improved my communication skills. All these activities and the situations improved my various skills like creativity, self-confidence, responsibility, leadership, etc.
I spent amazing 6 months here and I will go back to my country with amazing memories and experiences.
This project was co-funded by the European Commission.