Hello again! If you have followed my previous blogs, you should know by now that I am a rather outgoing person, with a strong need of being part of the community. I expected that after the time of COVID-19 hibernation the coming back will be reasuring and bringing peace at heart. And it did to some extent, as you could find out in my previous post (https://bit.ly/2OnDaC4), but still some anxiety stayed with me. I also inevitably started to think about the end of the project, as the time is running short. I did my tasks with less joy and felt that all the small communities that I was part of desintegrated during the time of isolation, even if that was not at all true. I was visiting around in haste and in fear that I will not have enough time for that afterwards. Then I realized what was missing: I could not fully enjoy the present moment and, as a consequence, reconnect with people. It took me some time to learn to navigate between the rational behaviour of still pretty pandemic reality, perspective of ending the project and having enough quality time with people, which is for me a source of energy. Here are some highlights of this re-connection.

Allowing time

In Polish, we have the common saying that it is not important to catch the rabbit, but to follow it. In other words, it’s not the target that is the most important, but the process – or journey – itself. European Solidarity Corps is a once-in-a-lifetime journey, and for sure the memories of it will stay for long in one’s head. Last month, together with Martyna, we concentrated a lot on the KA3 project we were involved in – you can read her testimony about this adventure here: https://bit.ly/3fq1U7W. During last month of quite intensive work on the application in a team of 4 people (with 2 Turkish colleagues), we mainly discussed project-related things during online calls and I missed a bit having more connections with people. However, when I look at this time from today’s perspective, I see that through this experience we could learn patience, remote communication and enjoy the process itself – and we did, really! Allowing time to every task and not rushing to another things also has many advantages and no matter if the project is accepted or not, we learned so many things on the way!

Let’s reflect and share: this month’s activities

During the hot August days, we have got back to our Conversation Clubs – still in online edition – and I have to say it feels great to have them again! It is an enjoyable highlight of working days to connect with the young people from different parts of Turkey and engage in discussions on diverse topics with them.

We also decided to try our forces once again and write a Youth Exchange and to apply with this project for the next Erasmus+ deadline. It is a creative and enjoyable process. Some of the tasks are more fun, like designing the non-formal activities, some of them much more serious, e. g. brainstorming on how to provide all the needed support to the participants with fewer opportunities, planning of the logistics of the exchange so that it all goes smoothly or making decisions on how to divide tasks between partners and ensure the effective management during the whole time of the project. The process is very empowering: such a first-hand experience will allow us to decide how much and in what way we want to be engaged in youth work after our ESC.

Moreover, as I have been thinking of becoming a youth trainer for some time now, I have recently launched a small non-formal game with my MoveYouthwise group and I hope I will be able to share more details about it next month!

Enjoying the present

And finally, the human factor!

One of my closest friends from the local volunteers of the Association, Faik, who has an impressive community spirit, has launched together with his friends an initiative of weekend campings in their village, Özdere. I had the opportunity to join them in the second weekend of August. Although I was going there alone and obviously missed the right bus stop, the “managing team;)” of the camping group rushed to catch me at the bus stop. We stopped by for another traveller soul waiting at another nearby spot and went to the beach, where the majority of the group has been staying. I spend the whole day with the group and suddenly it did not matter any longer that I cannot express myself properly in Turkish and that not everybody in the group speaks English with full proficiency. You do not need that for enjoying playing beach volleyball together or going swimming. On the contrary, the welcoming atmosphere made it much easier to try to communicate regardless of language mistakes. I loved it so much that I immediately decided to come back the next week and brought some of my friends to this magical place. The people with whom I spent time there convinced me to make the most of the time that is left for my ESC!

Another meaninful moment was one of the mornings, when I had the pleasure to meet the previous ESC volunteers, Valentina and Maka. It all happened thanks to our lovely neighbours next door – Nermin Hanım and Hasan Bey, who invited the girls for breakfast to their place. It was the first time that I could meet people who have previously lived the adventure of ESC in the exact same place. We exchanged many stories and it was decisively a refuelling experience. Not to mention all the wonders of the Turkish breakfast… Who knows, understands 😀

Just look around you

So, do you have a moment of doubt, feel a bit alone or overwhelmed? Do you feel you are not at the right place? Don’t let it happen. Take a deep breath and look around you. I bet that the people who will help you feel just OK are already there, you just haven’t allowed yourself time or space to notice them.

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