Change Now and Shape the Future!
by Omer Ongun, AFS Turkey
The founding fathers and mothers of the AFS philosophy volunteered to ease the pain of the people who were affected negatively by wars. At times of in need for peace, they worked passionately towards establishing dialogue between cultures of the world. AFS Volunteers Association (AFSGD), the volunteer body of AFS in Turkey is indeed very proud to be the successors of such brave people and their great accomplishments and they fully understand the responsibility passed on to them by this valuable legacy. Bearing in mind the recommendations of the 100 Years Young! Youth Workshop and Symposium in Paris in November 2014, the discussions from the Youth Forum in Buenos Aires in April 2015 along with continuing discussions and search meetings in Turkey, the new board of the volunteer association of AFS Turkey decided to really ‘think outside the box’.
Volunteers have decided to put emphasis on “internal diversity, change making, collaborations with other NGOs and visibility and promotion of AFS mission through civil society projects along with AFS operations”
Marshall R. Singer believes that every interpersonal communication is intercultural communication and therefore we cannot limit intercultural communication to national borders only. We also believe that intercultural learning and communication among individuals are beyond national borders. Today as the volunteers of Turkey, we believe that we need more cross cultural exchanges and dialogue establishments within the country to understand, respect and live with inner diversity. Therefore we have recently launched two new projects, one aiming to create an intra-national exchange between İzmir, west coast of Turkey and the Hakkâri province at the very south-east corner of our country, bordering Iraq and Iran. The second one has a more regional tone and as the first step of it, we are sending a busload of volunteers to Armenia this summer to promote friendship and understanding between the youth of the two nations. Our goal is not to recall the past and try to prove political theories but we hope to take first steps together towards a common future through cross cultural exchanges.
The third project is to be launched soon. It focuses on the cultural needs, adaptation and integration of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey currently has around 3 million Syrian refugees and many of the refugees lack basic access to health, shelter, food and education. Unfortunately, there is also exclusion towards the refugees across the nation and we find this extremely dangerous. As the peace supporters, we aim to provide support for those in need.
These ambitious projects are only made possible through professionalism, passion towards peace and thinking outside the box that have been supported with series of rigorous trainings and seminars. What we strive in our volunteer lives, is what most might see as the principles of work life. And what we achieve in our volunteer lives, later on does indeed reflect on what we do to earn our living. To us, volunteerism is not a hobby; it is how we define our lives.
Volunteers Association of AFS Turkey is keen on continuing to foster the discussions and collaborations on local, national and international level. The world has probably never changed this fast, and it is very likely that it will change even faster. As the global citizens of this fast changing world, we believe that it is very important to have the capability to adapt to everything that is new, to break the clichés and be the ones shaping the world rather than being shaped by it.
for more information: [email protected]