Our mid-term training from the Turkish National Agency was supposed to take place in the middle of March in Ankara but got cancelled last-minute due to the official announcement of the first Coronavirus case in Turkey. Since we were both excited for our little trip, the decision- although completely understandable- came as a disappointment. We’ve already been to Ankara once, during our on-arrival training, and even got a chance to do some sight-seeing but the experience was slightly undermined by the cold, unfriendly weather (it was December after all). We were also eager to reunite with our fellow ESC volunteers whom we had met before and befriended. And to be completely honest, we also were looking forward to enjoying a couple of days in a nice hotel (no cooking! no cleaning!).

So imagine how broken-hearted we were when we found out about the cancellation… However, last week we received an information that our mid-term training will take place online. And it did. We were told that it was the very first time for the Turkish National Agency to conduct such a training completely online. To be honest, I never would have guessed that, because all the activities ran smoothly and without any major technical difficulties. We all connected through Zoom conference call and worked with the help of Padlet (where all the materials were uploaded), Jamboard and Slido (which enabled a flow of ideas). Overall, the training was much more interactive and engaging than I expected. We took some time to catch up and discuss how our respective projects are going and what we have learnt so far. We also had a great, honest session about how our volunteering (and our overall well-being) is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which made me feel less alone in this experience. Afterwards, we were given an interesting presentation about the ‘life after ESC’ and advised how to best incorporate our newly gained skills into our future careers. Despite the packed schedule, we still managed to have some fun- one evening we all ‘gathered’ for a karaoke night, during which we listened to some songs, chatted with each other (for some inexplicable reason, the main topic was food) and tried our hands at origami (which on my part ended in complete failure).

Although the online training had different dynamic than the previous face-to-face one, it was still enjoyable and highly motivating. It was incredibly uplifting to see all the friendly faces of our trainers and other volunteers which- after more than a month in quarantine- boosted my spirits and reminded me what it’s like to be a part of the bigger community.

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