My name is Pierre, I am 19 years old, and I volunteered for 2 months with the Pi Youth Association in Izmir, Turkey.
What Motivated Me To Go?
As a Law student and not feeling fulfilled in my studies, I felt the need to find another path, one that would be more in line with my convictions, values, and simply who I am. Given the significant role that social aspects play in my life, I decided to volunteer abroad with the aim of nourishing this part of my personality. I wanted to contribute to concrete projects focused on others, to feel useful. Beyond what I could contribute, my goal was to immerse myself in the project: discover a new country with all that comes with it—its culture, customs, and worldview. Additionally, as a secondary objective but not less important, I saw this project as an opportunity to improve my rather mediocre level of English.
My Project at the Heart of Turkish Youth
I volunteered with the Pi Youth Association, an organization primarily focused on supporting local youth. Among its objectives are the defense of youth rights, youth participation, and support for various youth issues. My volunteering involved organizing workshops, primarily language workshops for the youth of Izmir. I organized conversation clubs in English and French for audiences aged 7 to 30.
I wasn’t alone in this mission. We were a team of just over 10 European volunteers with whom I had the opportunity to work and share great moments! To implement these workshops, we visited primary schools, secondary schools, and municipal centers every week to give young people the opportunity to practice languages.
Beyond working with youth, I also occasionally had the opportunity to conduct workshops with older individuals, such as mothers, fathers, and retirees. This diverse range of audiences was very enriching for me. What better way to discover a country than to be in daily contact with its various populations?
My life in Turkey
I stayed in Buca, a district of Izmir with a population of nearly 4.5 million people. Izmir is a port city overlooking the Aegean Sea and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. I was able to experience Turkish culture through a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity. Despite similarities with European culture, I particularly experienced the very pleasant Turkish hospitality and a less rigid conception of human interactions within society.
What I Take Away From This Experience
My volunteering experience with the Pi Youth Association in Izmir has been profoundly impactful on both a personal and professional level. This two-month journey allowed me to find a path more aligned with my convictions and values, flourishing beyond the confines of my law studies. By placing the social aspect at the core of my daily life, I not only contributed to concrete projects benefiting Turkish youth but also nurtured my own growth by discovering a new country, its culture, and its worldview.
The language experience was a cornerstone, significantly improving my English proficiency while building connections with diverse audiences, from children to retirees. Working alongside European volunteers added a collaborative dimension, reinforcing my interpersonal skills.
In summary, this experience has been a rewarding adventure that has shaped my perspective and strengthened my determination to contribute positively to society.