YE Now or Never (Van, Turkey)

The experience of Erika during her participation in the youth exchange Now or Never in Turkey.

Šarūnas Bačiliūnas

3/4/2022 2 min read

As soon as I got home from my first project, I started looking for another one. As a minor, it is not easy to find a youth exchange that suits me and when I saw that I have an opportunity to take part in an Erasmus about the environment I immediately ran to register to it. A week later I received a letter stating that I was accepted, and my smile rose to my ears. I went to tell my mother the good news and ask for her permission. Half a month later, I found myself in Van, Turkey.

The journey was not easy as I had to fly with three different planes. I arrived in Van a day before the project start. As soon as I left the airport, I saw a very cute, smiling and waving Turkish lady and two well-meaning men standing next to her. She was the organizer of the project and they were her helpers. I was greeted very hospitably, asked if I was hungry, tired. I came to Turkey in the evening and Į didn’t have dinner yet, so we drove to one of the two man’s houses. His family was very nice. His wife cooked us a delicious dinner and his daughter tried to talk me by asking various questions in English. I felt like at home there. After dinner, they gave me some Turkish traditional tea and snacks. It was VERY VERY tasty!

As the next day started, participants from all 4 countries began to collect: Turkish, Croatians, Spanish and Lithuanians. We were assigned to hotel rooms. There were three people in each room and everyone from different countries.

After a long journey, most of us were very tired, so in first place the organizers gave us time to rest. The project program started next day. We began our activities with "ice-breaking" games, which's aim is to help get to know each other and learn the names. After that we switched to "energizers", which not only gave us energy for the whole day, but also left smiles on our faces.

Later, we got into the very topic of our youth exchange: we wanted to learn as much as possible about how to behave and what to do to save our beloved planet Earth. We learned by creating colourful posters, doing various activities or just discussing the ecological situation in our countries. In the evening Turkish people used to go sightseeing with us. They knew all the best supermarkets and cafes making the tastiest tea.

The intercultural night was one of the most memorable events of the project. We all had to present the traditional food of our country. It was very nice to taste all sorts of delicacies, to feel new flavours, but the best thing at the time was not the food. We were dressed in traditional Turkish wedding clothes and began a celebration, which they call "henna party". To us it is better known as "wedding". At first, everyone was given a candle to hold on their palms and told to walk in a circle around the "fiancées" in the middle. The "bride" was told to cry. Then we laid out the candles as if making a passage for them. After doing so, a woman approached "couple" and drew a large ball on the palms of their hands with henna and put a coin it (it wasn't simple henna). After that they stood up and kissed. Then the traditional Turkish dances started. We had so much fun, everybody was enjoying it. All in all, the project was fantastic, full of adventure and, most importantly, unforgettable!