Hello everyone, we are Elif, Aysel, Nurgül, and Özge, and today we want to share our incredible experience from the first month of the Erasmus+ project hosted by the fantastic organization Beyond Borders in Orta Nova from October 15th to November 15th. Throughout our journey, we will individually share the activities we have engaged in and tell a bit about ourselves.
- I am Elif. This is the first Erasmus Plus project I applied for and participated in. I joined a 2-month ESC program with Beyond Borders in Orta Nova, Italy. We have completed one month, and I want to share the experiences we have had with you. To be honest, the reason I chose this project was because a friend of mine had participated in the same project in the past. She described it to me so beautifully and recommended it, and it turned out to be exactly as she said. First of all, I want to share this: everyone here sees you as part of the family, and you have a great time. The office hours are enjoyable, and the time spent outside is equally delightful. In the project, there are 4 Turkish and 2 Polish girls, including myself. I will talk about what we have done so far.
Firstly, as girls participating in the project, we created social media accounts for ourselves. We share the activities we will do from here, and in this way, people nearby get to know about them. We share the photos and videos we take on these platforms. We organized an intercultural night and prepared a presentation introducing Turkey. But before that, we planned special Turkish dishes for the night. Instead of presenting these dishes directly, we conducted a workshop where we cooked the specific Turkish dishes together with a certain number of local young people. We cooked “Nohutlu Pilav” and “Sütlaç” together. Later, we looked at their initial reactions, and then we portioned the desserts together for the evening. It was a very enjoyable workshop for us. I am eagerly looking forward to the experiences we will have in the remaining month. Excited to see what the future holds!
- Hello, I am Aysel. I would like to share the first part of my story with you. I will be in Orta Nova from September 15th to December 15th. When I first saw this project, I was intrigued by the topic. Next to a big and famous city in Italy, Orta Nova is a small rural village. It is very important for me to be with the young people here because I grew up in a small village and I know what young people need. And I hope to give them something from my point of view. After landing in Rome, I arrived in Foggia and from there I took the train to Orta Nova. Orta Nova is located in the Puglia region of Italy. For me, Puglia is similar to the western side of the Aegean Region of Turkey. The Beyond Borders team picked me up from the train station and we came to our beautiful house for 2 months. We live here with 6 people, 2 of us share a room. We have everything in the house, they think of everything for us, in fact there is more than we think, we also have a huge extra large terrace. We can run, we can do sports, we can eat on our balcony.
We go to the office 5 days a week and the first surprising thing was Siesta time. During the siesta time from 1 pm to 4 pm people have a long lunch break and then they sleep and start working again from 4 pm to 7 pm. It was surprising because I wasn’t used to it, but these days I’m getting used to it.
On the first day in the office we got to know each other by telling more about ourselves. They are a very friendly and welcoming team here. On the first day we wrote down our fears, expectations and contributions. I wrote that I was afraid of missing my family, my expectations were to make new friends and learn new things about Italian culture, and my contributions were to show the young people the beautiful side of the countryside and to create a lasting activity for the young people living here. I hope that by the end of the project I will have achieved a little bit of this.
Then we talked about what we could do in 2 months and what would be more effective. We knew our tasks in the information package, but plans can change at any time in such organizations. So you have to be ready for changes but it is never difficult because there is always someone to help you.
Shortly after we had a Turkish and Polish intercultural night. We drew our own country and wrote some important cities and short information about them. After showing our posters we talked about our cultural food. We brought Turkish coffee, Turkish delight, we made rice pudding and pilaf with chickpeas. We had a cooking workshop in the morning for these foods. So we also taught them how to cook our cultural dishes and we all ate together at the intercultural night.
- Hello everyone from Orta Nova. I am Nurgül MİMİR. I am writing this article to tell you how my first month here was. First of all, I must say that time passes very quickly here, one month is already over. I started the first week by getting to know Beyond Borders and my project friends. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to learn about the city and local people while having fun by playing the team game “Mission Impossible”. Then, I attended a workshop prepared by a wonderful Italian lady and learned how to make the most beautiful pasta, and thus I felt one step closer to Italian culture.
After this, we represented Turkey and introduced Turkish culture by participating in the “Intercultural Night” we organized. This was one of the proudest moments for us. In the off days of the project, we went to other cities of Italy and got to know this unique country, which is almost like a film set with its nature and architecture. After this trip, we spent our days making plans to prepare the activities related to the project. During these activities, we prepared anti-addiction and anti-bullying posters and slogans. Then we went to a local school and organised a wonderful event aimed at teaching English to children and getting to know our culture. In addition to this, the activity I was more involved in was a discussion activity called “European Youth Voices”. In this activity, we prepared some discussion questions on social issues such as gender equality, inclusive society and space for all, and we aimed for the young people in the target group to exchange ideas and share different perspectives on the subject. When we organized the event, we were able to create a discussion environment where ideas collide in the air and the next question is eagerly awaited, as we really aimed for. For now, we continue our work with such non-formal events, and we have already planned new ones. Stay tuned, we will share them all with you at the end of next month.
• Hello! I am Özgecan GÖKSU. I live in Aydin, Türkiye. I graduated from Aydın Adnan Menderes University, Department of Sociology. I am also a sociology master’s degree student at Aydın Adnan Menderes University. I realized that volunteering project types from Erasmus+ Projects consist of research topics of sociology. I understood that I would contribute to Erasmus+ volunteering projects on social inclusion for young people, women, special individuals, the elderly and children from groups with limited opportunities. When I saw that among the announced projects, Mozaik’s project to be carried out in Orta Nova, Italy, also included support for a non-governmental organization, I decided to apply immediately. I was the happiest person in the world when I learned that I would participate in the Erasmus+ ESC project of Mozaik and Beyond Borders, which will take place in Orta Nova, Italy. I started preparations to do my first Erasmus+ project, and although it was a little late, I participated in the project. In the first days of my arrival in Italy, I did research on the functioning and projects of the Beyond Borders non-governmental organization. Since the association staff and volunteers were very friendly, I quickly adapted to the process. Beyond Borders and Mozaik stand out as an association that actively carries out Erasmus+ youth exchange and ESC projects.
We prepared interview questions to learn about the experiences of volunteers who went to Erasmus+ youth exchange projects. That was one of my first tasks. To prepare questions for volunteers going to Romania and the Czech Republic. These projects that volunteers went to were within the framework of social inclusion, gender equality and the world for all of us. Since these topics of the projects were sociological, I had a lot of fun while preparing the questions. I knew I had the appropriate competence to prepare the questions. Me and my other volunteer friend, Nurgül, prepared the questions while having fun and learning. While preparing interview questions and awareness questions, I felt like I had been preparing myself for volunteering at Beyond Borders for a very long time. As a sociologist, I was honored and proud while preparing these questions. Later, when we asked the awareness questions to the young people, it was very important for me to be able to hear the voices and thoughts of the young people.
As a Beyond Borders volunteer, we prepared various slogans to draw attention to types of addiction in the following days. We wrote slogans as well as thought-provoking and eye-catching visuals from various fields such as cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, gambling and digital network addiction. It was a very useful event that made me think about the sociological background of addictions. After preparing the slogans and pictures in cooperation with other volunteers, we started cutting them. We cut it out so that it was ready to paint these slogans freely with spray paints. Working together on addiction felt very valuable as it would help raise awareness. It was very meaningful to see the reward of my hard work.
Beyond Borders enabled us to create an environment where we could create intercultural interaction by dressing up in local clothes and going to the primary school in Orta Nova. We were very happy to be able to show primary school students the local dress of Türkiye because we were able to show them a dress that they would only see if they could visit Kayabelen. We performed a small folk dance show accompanied by songs such as “Köroğlu”, which were used in Kayabelen’s weddings. Since we had received local dance training before, we did not have any difficulty during this event, on the contrary, we were very happy. The smile on our faces continued throughout the day. Even though the muscles in my face hurt, I continued to laugh involuntarily. Seeing children living in Italy, teaching them English words and performing our local dances made us happier than we could have imagined. We made sure that if we could visit them every day and tell them something about Turkish culture, we would never get bored. Thanks to this event, we realized that Erasmus+ ESC projects can contribute to world peace through intercultural interaction. All students in primary school will now know Türkiye’s local costume, where it is used and how beautiful it is, and will be able to tell it from generation to generation. As a sociologist, we are very happy to be a tool for inter-societal interaction and awareness thanks to Beyond Borders and Mozaik. we are very excited for all the experiences and contributions we will gain in the continuation of our volunteering activities here!