I will talk about the Turkish Cultural Night I mentioned in the previous chapter, which is indispensable for every Erasmus+ and ESC project we organized in Tallinn in June. First, you will need a good team for an event that can be nice and effective. I was fortunate in this regard. We had an organizing team consisting of my mentor Selman Erkan, my ESC volunteer friends Müşerref Özhan and Ezgi Mavzer, and our Estonian friend Ksenija Akimova. Without their support, we would not have been able to hold such a great event.
We started the cultural night activities about two months in advance. One of the most critical issues was the location of the event. Kesklinna Noortekeskus (Kesklinna Youth Center) in Tallinn helped in this regard. I knew that the youth center was organizing such cultural nights. When I first came in January, I attended the Greek Culture night organized there. It has a central location in Tallinn. After the youth center said they could only organize this event on Thursdays, they reserved 16th June Thursday, for us. They had told us that we could start at 17:00 at first, but we convinced them that we could begin at 18:00 by saying that we had friends working. Later, we started to share the Turkish Cultural Night design prepared by Ezgi, one of the organizers, on our Facebook and Social Media accounts. Since Facebook is actively used in Estonia, we invited our friends to the event individually. We sent e-mails to the Estonian National Agency, public institutions, NGOs, and wherever we could reach, asking them to attend our event. We went to the Turkish Embassy in Tallin and invited all embassy staff. Our embassy said we could borrow the Turkish flag for the hall.
One of the highlights of the event was the meal. Our friends, both Estonian and other nationals, who heard about the culture night, said that they were looking forward to trying Turkish food. By the way, kebab and baklava are very popular in Estonia. I should mention that especially baklava has an exceptional place. Our most crucial food supporter was Türqi BBQ. Hasan Çetin owner of Türgi BBQ said he would help us from the first moment we expressed our opinion. Our other food supporter was the Estonian-Turkish friendship center. Finally, as the organizers, we completed the meal with lentil meatballs.
That day, the meals and drinks on our table were: Baklava, Ashure, Raw Meatballs, Börek, Kısır, Şekerpare, Chicken and Rice, Lentil Meatballs, Tea and fruit juices. We wrote the name of each dish in Turkish in front of it and stated its contents in English. We thought some participants might be allergic to some of its ingredients or do not prefer to eat it. After our program, we also stated that other dishes, except rice, were vegetarian while going to the food section.
One of our biggest surprises was that our ESC volunteers Artemis, Marina, Marianka and Tanya, who stayed in my dormitory, performed karaoke with the songs we chose in Turkish and English. For this, I made them listen to the songs we decided on in the dormitory and asked each to choose a song. As a result, the distribution of the selected song and the responsible person was as follows:
- Artemis: Şımarık (Kiss kiss) by Tarkan
- Tanya: Gülpembe from Barış Manço
- Marina: From Manga, We could be the same
- Marianka: From Sertap Erener, Everyway that I can
As the organization team, we shared our responsibilities among ourselves. Accordingly, the presenter would be Müşerref and me. Selman was going to organize the quiz on Kahoot! Ezgi Mavzer was going to prepare a presentation about Turkey and apply henna to those who wanted the event day. Ksenija would shoot photos and videos throughout the event.
We went to the youth center and set the tables and chairs a few days ago. We met with the youth center staff and the responsible people that day. We went over the program. Finally, the big day, 16th June, had arrived. We poured cologne on the hands of the guests while we were taking them to the hall. When everyone was in their place, the program host, Müşerref, and I greeted everyone and introduced our organization team, Ezgi, Selman, and Ksenija, at the beginning. After the introduction of the group, we asked our participants to stand up to sing our National Anthem. After we sang our National Anthem, a staff representing the host, Kesklinna Noortekeskus, told us about the youth center and its activities. Then, representing my host organization, Noored Ühiskonna Heaks, our ESC coordinator Tairi talked about us and our work. After finishing her presentation of Tairi, Müşerref and I did our presentation about Turkey. Before starting the presentation, we advised the participants to listen to us carefully because Selman would organize a quiz on Kahoot right after us. We would have gifts for the top three people. After the presentation and Kahoot, we invited the first three contestants to the stage with applause and gave their gifts.
The next part was the karaoke performances of our biggest surprise, Artemis, Marianka, Marina, and Tanya. We accompanied them as the organization team. After the concert, the moment that everyone had been waiting for we had came. After the announcement that we could move on to the meals, the participants filled their plates one by one. After everyone finished their food, we went to the dances. We danced to songs such as Damat Halayı, Halay, and songs from the Ankara region. We also taught these dances to our participants. We had a much more fun environment with their participation.
Finally, there are a few issues that I think are important. I want to share them with you too. We did our event entirely in English, but when sending an e-mail to local institutions, etc., we mentioned we could translate it into Estonian if needed. Müşerref’s poem ”I Want My Country” was found very favorable. It was one of the questions in Mozart’s Turkish March on Kahoot that we played during our presentation. Our Estonian friend Sandra was on the stage for about 2 hours wearing a local Turkish outfit. Ezgi’s application of henna to those who requested it was greatly appreciated. The program took 3 hours in total. After it was over, as the organization team, we went to Türqi BBQ and celebrated together.
The first thing you will do after completing your event is “dissemination”. Pi Youth Association, my sending organization, and Noored Ühiskonna Heaks, my host organization, supported us here. I am sharing the links below with you.
Links of NÜH :
Links of Pi Youth Association (My sending organization):
Eesti Erinoorsootoö Ühing noOR (noOR MTÜ): Coordinator organisation of Müşerref
Thanks to Kesklinna Noortekeskus for their support through this blog post. Thank you very much to the Turkish Embassy in Tallinn and the Estonian-Turkish Friendship Center. We would also like to thank the Estonian National Agency, which has changed the lives of many young people with ESC and Erasmus+ opportunities. I want to thank Selman Erkan, Müşerref Özhan, Ezgi Mavzer and Ksenija Akimova for organizing this event with me. Finally, we would like to thank all our guests who were with us that day.
Hope to see you in the next episode.