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“My EVS in Turkey”. L’esperienza SVE di Greta a Gaziantep

La nostra volontaria Greta D’Emilio ci racconta la sua esperienza a Gaziantep, città della Turchia.

Hello, my name is Greta, I’m 20 years old and I’m from Italy. I participated in a short term EVS in Gaziantep, Turkey, between June and July 2017. There are tons of things I could say about this experience and I’ll start saying that, as all the things you love, it went too fast but also left an indelible mark on my heart.

My adventure started with a big yellow suitcase, a big smile on the face and a mind open to the unexpected. I was both scared and excited, a feeling I will not forget.

The association I worked for is called GEGED (Gaziantep Training and Youth Association) which is a non-governmental organization. Their mission is to create a strong youth with key competences, new skills and knowledge in social life and help the peace on the World among young people from different cultures, backgrounds, ethnics and races. They also promote youth works and voluntary works to show people that there are many things to do together which can’t be left undone and they need free willingness. In their voluntary network there are youth centres, schools, refugee centres, daily care centres orphanages, municipiatilities, hospitals and puplic bodies.

There is a big number of people working in GEGED, about 30 international volunteers, the local ones plus the mentors and coordinators. We spent a lot of time together, either to plan the activities or hang out in the free time, which gave as the chance to know each other, made us unite above our differences and feel like a big family.

Every day was a busy day, each of us with their assigned activity. We had English, Hand/Art/ Music classes in different organizations with Syrians, Turkish, Kurdish youngsters, Orphans, Afghan children and conversation club, also our volunteers provided Yoga and Dance classes. For any activity, me and my colleagues had to meet in advance and plan it, according to the age of the kids, the topic or the location. It hasn’t always been easy, coordinating with other people can be stressful, they may have different ideas from yours or not be as organized as you are; during the class unexpected events could always happen, as not having the right material or having language/culture issues with the children. I learned what team work means, to be very flexible and ready for last minute changes.

During the volunteering project, I got to take both Turkish and Arabic lessons provided by local volunteers. I personally loved them because it’s been a way to know and integrate with the local.

Even though time flied this month has been rich and intense, more than I had ever expected. When I arrived, the Ramazan month was ending and I got to experience the fasting, the traditional “iftar”, the drummer at 2am; then the Bayram holidays came and with some friends I travelled around Turkey for 8 days, seeing amazing places and meeting beautiful people. Moreover, Gaziantep is a great city, famous for his cultural and food heritage; I tried the delicious “lahmacun” and “baklava”, drank “çay” at any time of the day, because that’s how you do in Turkey; I shopped in the crowded bazaar where you get lost in a huge variety of colors, savors and fragrances.


I left my country with many insecurities and doubts, not knowing anyone, nor the language or culture of the place where I was going. Now that I’m home all I can think about is how amazing my time in Turkey has been, how fun, rewarding and worth it volunteering has been, how many great friends I’ve made and how many kind strangers have helped me, how many new things I’ve tried, how many uncomfortable situations I’ve faced and obstacles I’ve overcome, how many breathtaking places I’ve seen, how welcoming this country has been to me and what a great opportunity it has been for me.

Well, if it’s not clear I loved it and if you’re reading and thinking about taking part in an EVS do it and if you’re not do it anyway, because it will change your life.

By Greta D’Emilio