Lisa Koch updates us on her recent trip to Istanbul in support of the project “Child friendly Istanbul”
At the end of October I received an email through JCI with “Invitation from Turkey” as the subject. A week later I sat on a plane to Istanbul!
“Child friendly Istanbul” is a project initiated as part of the “European Capital of Culture” programme in 2010. The people behind the project are now trying to expand the idea not only within Istanbul but also across Turkey. And – as luck would have it – they wanted our input!
As everything was extremely short notice I left the UK without knowing what to expect but with an open mind. Upon arrival I was welcomed by the Turkish project team and five other participants from the UK. We all had different cultural and professional backgrounds which was the basis for spiced up conversations and many, many laughs.
The programme turned out to be incredibly diverse; we met with politicians to learn about the implementation of EU projects in Turkey, we vistited a youth centre, a first aid academy (the first of its kind in Turkey) and a mosque and we held brainstorming sessions to share our ideas on how to make Istanbul an even better place for children.
During only one week we got to sample some of the highlights Turkish culture has to offer. The culinary aspects of this (Baklava! Apple tea! Every. Single. Day) enjoyed unbeaten popularity amongst us but visiting the Grand Bazaar and trying to use one or two words in Turkish were equally fun.
Throughout the week our hosts made sure we got a feel for the country and its traditions; one night they even staged a wedding for us (with some unintentional participation on our part :)). Overall we were impressed not only by their hospitality but also by the effort they put into their project. Their work and achievements have definitely been an inspiration to us!
The trip has come as a last-minute opportunity, only days after I had joined JCI and I am already looking forward to similar opportunities in the future! If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to get in touch!
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Paul Thwaite