1 Ağustos 2011 Pazartesi
3. Live with Share With Us Children Programme
Servas Live with Us Share with Us Children Programme started in Ekinci-a village of Antakya in Turkey in 2009. Antakya is a town with 200.000 population very close to Syrian border. It has a variety of cultures with different languages, religions and beliefs. The cousine of Antakya which has the tastes of middle eastern cultures is another special aspect of Antakya. This lovely town is known as the geography of peace and tolerance. That’s why it carries a vast potential for more national and international Servas activities and projects. We have been carrying out Live with Us Share with Us Programme (LUSUP) for 3 years now starting early July every year. The programme takes between 9-11 days. We invite Servas members from Turkey and the world to volunteer as informal teachers teaching kids of the village anything they know well and wish to share. They live with families in order to experience everyday life of the culture. The needs of the volunteers are met by the families. In return, they teach kids languages, drama, art, music, dans, environment issues, sinema, handcraft, etc. 3-4 hours a day in the house yards, gardens, streets and any other places where life sign is visible. During these precious activities, volunteers learn and observe the life, nature and culture of the family in a natural way but not as an outsider because volunteers are treated as part of the families after a few days. This programme aims to exchange cultural values, knowledge and experience of individuals. Another goal is to create a positive and fruitful atmosphere for the kids to make the most of their summer holiday by learning, having fun and growing happily. At the end of the programme we organize a mini festival to share with the families what their kids have learnt and experienced during those happy days.
The volunteers coming from different cultures share their knowledge, skills, lifestyles, taste of music, art, meals, dressing styles and ideas with the local kids in a freindly nonformal environment. That enables kids think differently and realize that there are other worlds waiting for them to be discovered as well as the one in the village. It is well known that outsiders make us become aware of where we live, the richness of the culture and the poor qualities that should be improved. It happens exactly the same when volunteers come to live with us and work with kids. Kids suddenly discover the local values such as bilingualism (Arabic&Turkish), multiculturalism, the semi- commun life and the tolerance in the village. They also start to worry about the negative aspects of the village and how they can improve them. The volunteers also discover these values, the Middle Eastern way of life and take some of them to their homelands. The exciting thing is that the diversity in this region shocks them and they leave lots of their prejudies behind them when they leave.
The support of the local people for this new idea in the village is increasing every year. There are more volunteer families who are quite eager to host the servas volunteers. The mutual effects of this way of relationship makes both sides so happy and pleased. Language problems disappear when the hearts start to speak. The themes of the activities are so satisfying for the families and volunteers feel free to apply any programme they dream of doing. The families do not pay for anyhing because all the programme is tailored to be free of charge in order to give equal chance to every kids.
Finally, the aim of this programme is to integrate the kids with the world, provoke their curiosity about new subjects and provide new alternatives for their current and future lives. This programme allows kids and families know about Servas and Servas ideals. If a flock of people from this town become Servas members after some time no one should be suprised.
We dream to organise the same programme in different parts of Turkey and the world. We are open to cooperate and share experience with Servas people who would consider organise similar programmes in their regions throughout the world.
What did we do within the programme this year?
· Kids became friends with Christina who came from a different culture-Russia- with a different language and religion. They started to cry two days before Christina’s leaving. Christina started to cry before but she was doing it secretly in her heart until the last day. She was given gifts by the kids. They showed their love with simple english words and hugging. The adults were also so sensitive and some of them couldn’t help crying as well. My mom was hugging and saying in Arabic; “Christina, you are our daughter from now on and we will be waiting for you again next year. ”
· Kids became aware of many languages during the activities. They have learnt some words in English, Russian, Spanish, Kurdish and added new words to their Arabic. I helped them write mini sketches in these languages or in a mixture of two languages.
· They made interesting discoveries in their two mother tongues; Arabic and Turkish. Duygu teacher was very excited and happy to give her first Arabic classes whereas kids were very happy to learn how to write their names in Arabic. They wrote friendly words in this alphabet as if they were drawing pictures looking into Duygu’s eyes for approval.
· The environmental ideas; “the batteries should not be burried”, “we should use less plastic bags” which they have learnt with their teacher, Züleyha, made their eyes shine brightly. They immediately prepared posters with their own ideas and displayed them publicly on the shop windows and the walls in the village.
· The kids were very suprised to hear and see that “Russia is not only a cold country but there are almost every seasons throughout the country.”, “It is a huge country that it takes 12 hours to fly from one side of the country to the other.”,”The architecture is amazing and the girls are so beautiful.” At that moment, many of the kids did their plans to visit this country one day.
· We, as local volunteers, taught our chidlhood games to the kids to make the tradition live and to resist digital world a bit. The games were so excited to find an area to show themselves after a long time staying underground. We, as adults, turned back to our childhood while playing Şimme3a, Tiroz, Çirreyka. Like many years ago, some of us tried to cheat in the games and played harshly. We made noise on the streets and had to wait the donkeys and their owners pass from our playground angrily and unpatiently.
· Kids drew pictures of peace and village life under the olive trees and very close to the cold sream. Some of them were leaning against the olive trees and some were just lying on the ground and drawing. They seemed to be the elements of a painting from a distance. The kids shared their color pencils and the boys drove the girls crazy when making lots of fun of them.
· We sat on big rocks near the stream, closed the eyes and started to travel across the world. Students gave interesting and serious answers to the questions; “Where did you travel?”, “Who did you travel with”, “Why?”, “How were you feeling?”, “What did you bring back with you?”. It was not suprising to hear that some of the kids travelled to Russia. We got the chance to know the kids of the village and they also learnt many things about us as we were the older generation of the village.
· We went walking in the countryside early in the mornings. The birds followed us with their lovely voices. The kids searched and find the trees we, as their teachers, asked them to find. They were so enthusiastic to be the first who could recognize and find the correct leaves. Daphne, olive trees, eucalyptus, willows, figs and berries were some of the trees they discovered.
· We discussed the gender equalty or inequality sitting in a circle shape on the ground under a grape tree. The girls beat the boys but only in the discussion but not at home.
· Servas volunteers found it hard to live with too much attention and care of the host families and kids. They were forced to eat too much because it was the way to show hospitalty in this region. The local people talked to each other about what they shared with the volunteers. Some kids had big argumants with other kids for hosting the volunteers next or more.
· Christina helped them learn how to dance Indian, Arabic, Turkish, Russian, Latin and Jewish dances. The noise and laughings made the neighbours angy but happy later.
· Kids didnt want to go home at nights after the events. We spread sheets under the grape trees and they watched lovely cartoons sitting on them. Some of them fell asleep while watching and some asked for more to watch. Their mothers came up to collect them and kids felt unhappy when they woke up next morning. Their mothers conforted them by saying; “there is another film tonight.”
· The last night was the show night. They played sketches, guitar and bağlama and sang Turkish and Arabic songs. Parents were so proud that they took many pictures of them. Families also gave lots of tanks to us-the volunteers, which we were expecting to hear J.
· Before the cocks finished singing every morning, the kids were comimg from different streets like bees going out of their houses and they gathered together under the trees with their lovely childeren noise and waited for their teachers to show up. The great farm worker and the owner of the house, Huriye, frowned each time after seeing the kids coming like a flock but she smiled after a short while and asked what they needed. She was always carrying newly picked cucumbers, tomatoes, pepper and other vegetables in buckles and bags. Kids were eagerly watching –maybe- the most hardworking woman preparing to bring the vegetables to the bazaar to sell.
· We went down the garden to pick pears, cherries, plums and tomatoes to eat during break times.
· We were not suprised to see that kids are very taleted in music and they have sensitive ears since they grow up with Arabic, Turkish and western music. They could easily learn how to play a few songs and sing them. They were soon ready yo give mini concerts on the streets and during family gatherings. We were so jealous of them and very happy to sing with them.
· They were lucky kids. The mixture of life-traditional and modern- gives them richness although they are not aware of it. They speak Arabic with their grandparents and Turkish with their syblings and friends. They eat the most delicious middle eastern dishes, spend time with their big families in the gardens and socialize easily in a natural way. It is like a semi-commune life. They can also access modern life actitivities such as the Internet, learn how to play the guitar or swim in the swimming pool. Those are the reasons which makes the idea of Live with Us Share with Us Programme successful. They are so open that they can easily place the volunteers into their hearts.
· They made teacher Cuma angry when they put their legs into the pool of the country house and started to move rapidly and screaming. Then they set the table on the ground under the trees, put the nice smelling and delicous breakfast foods on the sheet and we had a lovely end of programme breakfast. We did environment cleaning afterward. They were so skillful that I thought they were also preparing for life. It was the closing breakfast. Sad.
· We planted an olive tree in the memory of this programme since olive tree is a sybol of abundance, long life, peace and beauty. Small hands and exciting eyes threw soil to the baby olive tree. Some of them carried water with bottles and some in their own palms. We plan to plant one tree each year.
· The children let their potential flow during the activities just like the clouds full of water and had been waiting the right time and place to drop their waters. At the end, we realized once more that the children are always ready for new seeds to be spread on them with their bright eyes and strong curiosity. They wait for us. They wait for you.
For the photos: facebook: “Live with Us Share with Us”
Servas Turkey Peace Secreatry, July, 2011