Merhaba! I’m Gautier, a new and almost former volunteer in Pi Gençlik since my project was only 3 months long. I know what you think now: “what a strange name”. I heard it several times. I guess my name sounds as strange to you as yours sounds to me. But I’m French and this is a quite common name for us.
People’s names have been something very challenging for me here in the way that it has been hard to remember the names of half of the people. Normally I’m not like that, I can quite easily remember the names but here in Turkey, with the difference of culture and language, I never heard most of the names, which makes it harder to associate it with a face. It has been very hard (and it still is sometimes) for me since I have been meeting many many people with the workshops and activities in the association.
Anyway, let’s talk about my experience and my motivations to join the organization.
This isn’t my first experience abroad. I already lived for eight months in Spain during my ESC project last year. So why do another volunteering project and not find a job or study? I guess that’s a way to do it in a different way than the “normal” people. Or maybe, and more plausible, because I still don’t really know what I want to do in my life. The problem is that I would like to be able to work in everything, I would like to do everything. So when I have to choose an area, that becomes tricky. That’s a reason why I chose to volunteer this time in a social association, with youth, in order to organize activities. Another reason is that I have lately been interested in working in this area, in an organization for youth or refugees, etc. So this volunteering was an opportunity to have the first view of it. Also, I knew this area is not the one I feel the most comfortable with, it is not where I’m the best. So it was also a way to get out of my comfort zone and I think this is something very important to do when you are looking for something about yourself: to go out of your comfort zone. That helps to learn about yourself, about what you want and/or need.
After my project in Spain, I wasn’t fully satisfied. I wanted to see something more different, maybe something less “European”. In Spain, I was living with people from different countries and cultures, such as Russian, Luxembourgish, Spanish, and… Turkish. It brought me my first contact with Turkish culture, that’s why the summer after this project, I decided to join my Turkish friends in Turkey to discover this land and its culture and traditions. I loved it! The Turkish people are super warm and welcoming. Always ready to help you, although we can’t understand each other sometimes. They want you to discover and try everything about their culture. I’m particularly thinking about the amazing and various foods you can find, wherever, whenever you want in the street or on the seashore. But the history or sightseeing as well.
Back in middle school, I started to learn foreign languages such as English and German. I really liked it, and I think that is one reason I had so much interest in going abroad. When I chose Spain as the country where I wanted to do my ESC project, it was to learn Spanish. And after more than two months spent in Turkey, I got interested in the Turkish language. Because I like to challenge myself, and Turkish is a totally different language than European Latin or Germanic languages I have learned. So I found a project to come to Turkey to learn Turkish. I will be honest, I haven’t improved so much, at least not in speaking. I am living with international people, organizing workshops in English, and I’m someone pretty shy so it has been hard to push myself to speak Turkish.
I still have around a month to go here, in my project, to enjoy the great people I have met here, and practice my Turkish. But anyway I will try to stay longer in Turkey because I am still not satisfied and I want to see more than the Aegean and Mediterranean regions to go to taste the real Baklava in Antep.