Me and Martyna arrived to Izmir on 20th October from Warsaw, Poland to start our yearly adventure with European Solidarity Corps (previously called European Voluntary Service). We both never learned Turkish before and have never been to Izmir previously.
Already on the second day of our activity we went with a group of local volunteers from Pi Youth and other associations to Bayındır for a Eurodesk event. It was a discovery of the local people and of the region. Although we were quite shy at the beginning, when the time has come for our presentation, we received many questions from the audience and at the end of the event local youngsters invited us to take many photos with them.
We also had many opportunities to meet and spend time with the local volunteers of Pi. In fact, the local volunteers received orientation training shortly after our arrival, therefore we also took part in it. It turned out that many local people are new to the Association just like us; we made some friends and discovered the Association’s story and activities together.
Starting from November, we have been coordinating English Conversation Clubs on three levels of proficiency: A (basic), B (intermediate) and C (advanced).
Those first months taught us a lot about Turkish hospitality. We felt welcome from the very first days. Was it not for the linguistic support of local volunteers, we would never have received our Residency Permit and coped with some other difficulties so quickly!
Of course, there were some misunderstandings and difficult moments, but this is just a part of the learning path. Example? In the Polish culture, we are rather strict and stick to the planning and timing. We quickly realized it is not always the same in the Turkish reality. Also, when you start to live in a new country, many unexpected things happen, so even having a plan does not guarantee that you will be able to stick to it. This is a nice lesson of being more flexible or, simply, more spontaneous 🙂
In December, I started to coordinate also French Conversation Clubs together with a passionate Pixel Team (local volunteers’ team) member, Yaǧmur 🙂
Personally, I feel that I understand local culture and people much better then at the start, I made some friends, learned some Turkish and I am excited for the incoming 10 months!