11 Ağustos 2019 Pazar

11. Servas Peace School, Ekinci, Antakya, Turkey 2019

A Universal Education Model in Local Area: 
Experience Share…
Mehmet Ateş,
Antakya, 2019

What is the Peace School Like? Peace School is life practices and cultures. It aims to bring the knowledge and cultural riches of the world into the village and increase feelings of peace in children and local people. Also, it means to introduce the multicultural background and peace experience of Antakia with the world. 

Philosophy behind the school?  Every person has something to teach and every piece of knowledge is precious. A baker teaches how to make bread, the villagers teach making tomatoe paste, some people teach maths, astronomy, yoga, landart, folk dances, French, Arabic or an indiginous African or American language, etc. That means every person can volunteer in this school, teach and learn.  
School area? Everywhere is a school. Streets, gardens, olive fields, the banks of the river, school garden and sometimes inside houses. All places can be classrooms for learning and sharing.
How does the school work? Attandance to Peace school is free of charge so that we can provide equal rights to all children. Children come to school with their free of will. There is no registration. No school principle. No curriculum. All workshops are designed with the volunteers every day.
Accomodation? Volunteers coming from abroad and other parts of Turkey stay with local families so that exchanging cultural background and knowledge can happen throughout their stay. Volunteers and families develope life long friendship this way.
Budget? This school needs no budget. Good people from the village, Turkey and abroad  donate stationary and other materials for workshops. Local people provide accomodation, food and sight seeing tours. Peace School has proved that it is possible to provide educ
ation and training to thousands of children for 11 years with no money. That’s why this is a sustainable system and can be a good model for different parts of the world.
What Gains? Childen are intoduced with universal values and they experience the first steps of becoming global persons. They meet people from different world cultures, learn from them and some of them live with them during their very early ages. Children become aware of their own culture at the same time. There are many more English teachers in 11 years in the village. Some children who grew up in this school work as volunteers at this school now. Music, art, cinema, drama, and many other

 subjects have become more important for children. Families have developed more liberal values. Young people of the village travel abroad more often now. Most importantly, imagination of children has increased. They believe that all dreams are possible.
Dates of the School? July 03-23rd (Every year)

How was Servas Peace School this summer?Experience Share…

 It is usally windy in the hot summer times in Antakia, very South of Turkey. That makes summer time sweet and learning outdoor easier. During Peace School days, children left homes early in the mornings like snails and arrived Peace School campus just like they did every year.
Peace School took place with 110 children and 25 volunteers in its 11th year. The oldest but the most energetic volunteer was Rosa (71) from Italy and the youngest one was Naz (15) who grew up in this school. We started the day with the morning circle every day. We greeted each other with the languages of the world. First, in the mother tongue-Arabic-of the village and then in Turkish, Italian, German, French and many others. We all ran in the garden with warm up activities, got energetic, hugged each other and we woke the neighbours up with our high laughings. But they didn’t get angry with us. We noticed that some secrets made the children wake up early during Peace School although they were on summer holiday. Ahmet and Nehir’s mother, Selda, was amazed saying; “When this school started my children felt energetic and excited. They 

woke up early by themselves and even prepared breakfast for guest volunteers”. The programme was very intensive and we sometimes got exhausted during the workshops. Neighbours served us tea, coffee and water during those critical moments.
Servas Peace School aimed to raise awareness about cultures, languages, different faiths, countries, rights and set up friendly relationship with nature. Volunteers also focused on teaching how to consume without hurting, recycle and how to sing with the languages of people of the world. Most importantly, Peace School aimed to promote feelings of equality rather than superiority and encouraged children not to compete but to cooperate. Children were introduced with Servas, 

established in the 1950s, which aims to develope feelings of peace in the world by hosting people and becoming guests. Children made new dreams of becoming a member of this organisation in the future.  Then they worked together and designed their own organisations to create peace between people and cultures. Peace School children discovered the variety of birds and other animals and plants in the river bank, olive fields and small forests during nature workshops. They also learnt interesting life of trees and land art.  It was great fun for children to swim in the river with many of  friends. The elder people taught them how to make old toys and they played together. Children read questioning stories during philosophy workshops. Volunteer teachers helped them discuss the points and the how to ask Why. All children played street games and sweated a lot. Tablet computers and other technological tools could not enter into Peace School. Photography team (Colors) members were trained and they went taking photos with a theme every day. They took interesting photos in the village and enjoyed telling their experience at the end of the day. The themes of the photo safaris were; the babies and old people, vegetables and fruit that grow in the village and pollution.
On the other side of the school, the songs of Multi Lingual Choir brought joy and happiness to the 

streets.  Children shot short movies by themselves. At the end of the school, we shared all of the school products with 300 hundred local people at the Peace School Party. One could easily notice from smiles how parents were proud of their children.  The volunteers seemed satified, proud, excited and happy when they saw the performance of the childen. Volunteers were satisfied because they did a job that served to create the good world they dreamt of.  They also learnt from each other. Working together and making things beautiful meant a lot to them. The friendship they made with their host families and extraordinary daily life with them and exchanging cultural aspects and good feelings made 

Peace School experience precious and special for everyone. 
A university student, Ilgın, who experienced her first volunteering programme tried to tell her feelings with tears in her eyes and children were hugging her; “Here, I have learnt to go beyond my limits, leave my shell, touch other hearts. Hard to leave leave these children here?”. Tulin, with 25 years of experience as an art teacher, was so excited like a fresh teacher spoke to us; “I made conclusions out of this experience for the whole world. Teaching and learning should be everyone’s duty for a beautiful world.  Every person with different ages and races should experience this school. I do feel lucky”.

People who have dreams of a fair, good and peaceful world in their hearts come to volunteer in Peace school. Once they share these values with the children they feel satisfied and peaceful as they do their duties. One of those volunteers was a university academic, Pınar. She tells us her experience; “The small hearts were open enough to receive knowledge, practice it and have fun. I have realised that I have made some changes in those small hearts”. A university student from the village Burçin, who has the habit of nourishing herself with learning gives us feedback; “I have learnt that the most precious thing in life is sharing. I have  the real volunteering. I have not only taught a lot but also learnt much.”
Rosa, who has the energy of a young woman, was very excited to tell us her experience; “I have had a lovely experience in here. It was very interesting to know a new country, cultures, people and children. Children were very curious, open minded and they learnt about peace and solidarity. I will tell this story in Italy.”With her life story, free spirit and thoughts, Rosa was a good model for young volunteers, children and local people in terms of going after dreams. Everybody in the village liked her. A music teacher, Uygar, who aimed to make children like singing in different languages told his feelings in his mother tongue, Arabic; “If I could make a child smile the world would change. If I could teach children to love birds on streets, music, theatre, books and tolarance then I would be able to send lights on the dark sides of the hearts”. Servas Peace 

secretary of Turkey, Şermin was also one of the volunteers. She did an interesting workshop with children using drama. Şermin was excited while talking; “Peace School was an interesting experience for me. Children came here to learn and improve. My host family, Sinem-with 3 children, was kind, open minded and hospitable. This school is a big chance for the development of the children, parents and whole village. It would be a good idea to practice Peace School in different parts of Turkey and the World”.

We were having breakfast with all children sitting on the ground around the food under the olive, 

pomegranate and fig trees. It was like a farewell activity. There were screams behind us coming from some of the children swimming in a traditional pool. At this moment, Gökçen, who has a loud nice laugh and who was like a well motivated teacher explains her experience; “I had such an interesting volunteering experience. I never felt tired with the questions of children and was very happy with their love they raised for me. I would come again next year”.
The neighbour, the mother and the first aid of Peace School, Seher, shares her feelings; “Children learn things they usually do not see at normal schools. They also make the first step for becoming member of world family”. The youngest volunteer, 15 year old person, Naz, does workshops with many children and she is happy 

that children call her; “Teacher”. She says; “I have learnt how to improve myself and how to teach what I know. Also, I have realised that there is no limit for sharing and loving”. 11 years old girl, Rana, played the Zammuha (hand made flüte) and started to speak; “I learn to draw, play games and make musical instruments like this every time. Let’s all leave in peace”. Host family, Sibel invites all volunteers for a complete table of Antakya dishes every year. We met at her beautiful terrace and started to serve the dishes together. Sibel tells her feelings while making the Kofte with Rosa; “We host volunteers every year. We have fun together. My children become friends with them and they keep in touch throughout the year. The guests like our culture very much. They learn Arabic and Turkish. And also they experience how to make dishes of Antakya. They are welcome every year (Ehlen ve Sehlen)”. People of the village are aware of what the volunteers are trying to do with their children and they often appriciate it.

It made us feel good when we saw groups of children in different parts of the school, sitting on the ground and learning about mythology, Egypt, Colombia, Morocco, gender equality, peace in the world, children rights, making parfume out of scents of plants and different languages. Also, listening to the Zammuhas (made with reeds) played by all children 
and decorating a wall with the theme of peace in the village helped us streghten our faith in peace.  
It was a special moment when we met with all the volunteers at the old house (Beyt-it Trob-Mud Brick house) where I was born and watched the documentary of Servas Peace School and shared our feelings about 11-year of experience. Discussing the future of the school and disseminating it in different countries filled our hearts with hope and excitement.
Besides, we did a workshop about effective volunteering and exchanged 

ideas about the possible volunteering oppurtunities. We also watched the documentary movie, Naked, that I made on a Syrian refugee family in Turkey and discussed the prejudice against refugees and the ways of dealing with such sentiments. This year, we invited Syrian children to join Peace School workshops. Not suprisingly, local children were  
good enough to play with them, draw pictures together and make toys. We had cinema workshops too and the trainer was a Syrian young man, Ayham, who studied cinema at a university in Turkey. He did the workshops in Arabic and Turkish.
During the sightseeing tours for volunteers, we had long conversations about the multicultural background of Antakya, the peace culture and how Antakya was my inspiration to start Peace School. We visited the old mosques, the churches, the sinagog, the Allawi Ziyareths, the old bazaar, 
the amazing museum and the old parliemant which played great importance in the identity of the city. We had some stops to eat the local desserts; Haytali, Kunefe Müşebbek and sometimes for Kagit Kabab. We drank a Suvari Coffee at the old inn watching the great mountain Habib-i Neccar that protects the city. Such sight seeing tours helped to exchange experience between volunteers and develop friendship.

Servas Peace School planted its seeds and left the village again this summer. Children and local 

people will water the plants patiently and they will grow until next year. When we meet again we will help them grow more and plant new seeds at the same time. We will continue from the point where J. Lennon left… The kids wrote it on the peace wall of the village this year; Imagine all the people. Living life in peace.” We still imagine. That’s why, there is Peace School in our lives.

Mehmet Ateş
August 11th, 2019 

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