The Project Musical Bridges (May 2021)
For two weeks, young adults from Germany and Turkey came together and had the chance to exchange their feelings and ideas. Music has touched their souls in one way or another, and it was the common ground to bond.
With a focus on music being the bridge between different opinions and cultures, we wanted to show how different people interpret music as a bridge across people and cultures as well. To do that, we hosted two artists in the project: the content creator Sena Nur Gül (known with her nickname @paptircem) and Stephan Talneau, the director of the documentary Saz.
In this way, we got the chance to see and learn more about the artists’ works of art and creative processes, and what it means to be an artist/musician in today’s world. This was also a two-way connection: the participants and artists inspired each other. During the times of the pandemic, Musical Bridges became a channel for the artists to connect. Each time, we got feedback on how amazing it is that we got creative together.
As a final touch on building a musical bridge, the participants in our project created their own music video. The video itself is the MO of Sena’s work— it is a combination of different sounds in harmony. Strong bonds were created during this process— participants have opened up about their own artistic processes as well as struggles. This made us realize how we can touch each other’s souls with music even online, and also how important it is to create and facilitate a safe space, especially during these times.
The Youth Ambassadors Starters Program took place for the second time in our association’s history. This time under very different circumstances than in 2019. To adjust to the pandemic, we switched the event to an online format. In order to keep it as interactive as possible, we developed our own learning platform with complementary videos and quizzes for every workshop. As part of the preparations for YASP2020 we had professional video shoots in both Cologne and Istanbul. For over six days, 35 young people from Germany and Turkey came together to deepen their understanding of youth exchange and develop their skills to facilitate their own projects. Overall, YASP2020 was a big success despite the odds, and we are looking forward to 2021!
Youth Ambassadors Academy
We constantly want to develop ourselves! Therefore, capacity building is important. In order to learn from each other more, we organized 6-weeks-long workshops designed by our members, for our members. The academy consisted of three different workshops: Introduction to Workshop Design, (Re)Thinking Discrimination and Academic Youth. While Beybin Elvin Tunc, the facilitator of the first workshop group focused on the key elements of the design process of workshops, Sena Kayrin created her workshop in a way to re-conceptualize the concept of discrimination to enhance our understandings. Lastly, Zeynep Aydar created her workshop through focusing on the contemporary history of Turkish-German relations, pioneer academic publications and the recent terminology that academia uses. After completion of the 6-wweks with regular attendance, the participants were given a certificate.
Exchange and Encounter for the Future (September 2019)
Our youth ambassador Anıl went to the 5th anniversary of the German-Turkish Youth Bridge on 16.-17. of September. Part of this event was an interesting workshop about future and encounter for youth exchanges where Anıl especially enjoyed the arguing and brainstorming parts but suggested working further on dealing with future steps. Another workshop he joined was about how to create a sustainable exchange. During his time, Anıl had the chance to meet many experts in their areas. Another highlight of the event was the fishbowl discussion with Heiko Mass which dealt with German-Turkish as well as EU relations. He returned with a lot of experience and a new perspective for the future works for youth exchange.
DTJB Partner Plattform (September 2019)
As part of the five-year anniversary of the German Turkish Youth Bridge, our youth ambassador Cengiz took part in the Partner Platform workshop with over 50 other representatives of organizations that have been funded by the Federal Foreign Office. The workshop consisted of an outlook on future trends for youth, a best / worst practice workshop and a preparation session for the fishbowl discussion. The best / worst practice session was very interesting since although all the participants work in the same field, they all have a very different background and unique perspective on the challenges of youth exchange. During this part, the idea of an environmental awareness project from the Youth Ambassadors Starters Program (YASP) was further developed and got contributed by other participants who showed their high interest in our project idea as well as our association. Cengiz did his very best to represent the Jugendbotschafter e.V. and explain our work to them. It was such a great opportunity to get feedback from other parties such as Idema, Goethe Institut, and many others and see their support.
Youth Ambassadors Starters Program (September 2019)
A lake in Berlin. A house by the lake. In the house 30 young people, 15 from Germany and 15 from Turkey. And what are they there for? To attend workshops on many topics like experiential education, group dynamics, intercultural interaction, theater? Is dancing by the lake accompanied by Turkish and German songs one of the aims of the gathering? What would it be like to break up in groups in the morning to develop your project ideas and to go canoeing in the afternoon altogether? Or for a visit to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany to put on the table the Turkey-Germany relations here with the parties directing these relationships? Could they meet around group games to make friendships that cross the country’ s borders? Would you think of an unforgettable night that started with the fishbowl discussion with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas and ended with a feast and Turkish-German melodies?
Here’s the answer … YES!
So expresses Emine, our participant in YASP and now Project Manager on the board, her feelings to sum up the unforgettable week she spent in Berlin.
Youth Ambassadors Starters Program (YASP) in 2019 evolved by 30 young people both from Turkey and Germany who met in Berlin to assume more responsibility are eager to develop themselves in this area and to give direction to the relations between two countries. When the calendars showed September 13, 2019, the start was given with 30 youngsters to make a bigger impact in this relation. It is one of the most interesting and enjoyable experiences in the world to bring young people from different cultures together who do not know each other nor have much in common.
During the week once everyone starts getting to know each other better, prejudices are destroyed and common points are found. You learn and teach in peers. And watch out! You might break into tears because of a laugh with someone who even can not speak the same language as you!
Marie, one of the participants, recalls her experience as: ” We had created our world of thirty people. In this alternative world, we tried to look at the external world which we came from with an objective perspective. Turkey – Germany relations, gender equality, methods for anti-discrimination and many other similar subjects which we brainstormed in different ways. We found and worked on our project ideas. We learned how to use social media efficiently in NGO’s, how to implement the projects we believe in, how to debate by using logic rules, and the answers to many similar questions like these, we found with the help of our peers in workshops. ”
Yes! As our participant, Marie said, besides improving our skills and contributing German- Turkish relations, the most important approach for us was to realize them all peer-to-peer! Starting from the project funding application through implementation to follow-up, we have fully organized and carried out the seminar as a project partner of the German-Turkish Youth Bridge with our volunteer members.
In these five days, everyone had a first in their own way. Although everyone’s experience was different, there was a common point that was perhaps the most valuable achievement: We listened to each other. We honestly talked about our world, our country, ourselves while turning our back to the prejudices related to both Germany and Turkey.
After the Youth Ambassadors Starters Program (YASP) , seeing that our participants have already connected to the youth ambassadors network along with our alumni and are motivated to realize their own projects encourage us to keep our work more in this manner to build more bridges between Germany and Turkey.
Jugendbotschafter Project Lab (2019)
About Project Lab
During the strategic planning for 2019, we decided on realizing a project in the next two years.
The idea was to create a kind of competition. There were four questionnaires to be filled out by participants in six weeks. This way the participants did not have to have a complete project in mind, the questionnaires would help them develop their initial ideas.
In the end, the final project scratches competed in a social media voting. After that, we concentrated on writing the ERASMUS + application with the winning team.
For that, our youth ambassador Alena met them in person in Istanbul.
About what happened
In total, 8 teams applied and in the end 2 teams made it to the last questionnaire.
In the end, the team “Global Connections” won the social media voting and, therefore, Alena met them at the end of August in Istanbul for a weekend.
Their project idea was to discuss different European education systems. They planned to express the main ideas of these education systems in theater plays that would be presented by the participants over the three days of the planned workshop.
The team applied for ERASMUS + in October, but without mentioning Jugendbotschafter’s name as a partner organization as until the end the application did not meet our quality standards.
Project Lab was a good start. We noticed that youngsters have many great project ideas, it is just really hard to understand every part of funding policies and therefore it is difficult to apply for them. We tried a very fundamental peer to peer process by just trying to support them on developing their idea. But just taking the ideas of a young group and trying to make it fit the funding policies has not shown the success we were hoping for.
Exchange for Future (August 2019)
Our Youth Ambassador Sönke was in Cologne to facilitate a workshop for the Exchange for Future project by Experiment e. V.
This exchange project of one week had its primary focus on social development goals (SDG) set by the UN. The project’s target group consisted of German-Turkish students aged around 14.
Sönke’s workshop had two parts which both took the SDG 4 Education as a focus. The first one was about learning processes and raising awareness to non-formal and informal processes of learning as these play a crucial role in exchanges. The second one was about opportunities for going abroad through various channels.
As for the opportunities for going abroad, the discussion was mainly focused on exchange opportunities. Channels such as internships, projects, etc. were covered. The workshop tried to answer some leading questions such as: Where to find the opportunities? How to use them? How to apply for various fundings? What are the main changes in the exchange area?
We think one of the best ways to develop intercultural dialog among youngsters is through youth exchange. And these workshops not only enabled the students to have a better understanding of exchange opportunities but made them think further about what learning is and how it can be improved.
Mercator Summer Festival (August 2019)
Our Youth Ambassadors Sönke and Alena took part in the Mercator Summer festival in Essen on August 29th. There they enjoyed the snug atmosphere and had the chance to talk with colleagues as well as friends of Mercator Foundation about the latest developments of our association and trends in German-Turkish youth work.
ReVisit the Other Program (June 2019)
Jane and Sean from InterCultur and Beybin from Jugendbotschafter e. V. have facilitated the training during the ReVisit program, which was a 2,5 days seminar for former host families and their host children.
Our youth ambassador Beybin expressed her experience as: “In total, we had 40 participants aged 10-58 years. The training was based on 11 former exchange students who spent a year in Germany 1-3 years ago, as 16-18-years old, their host families are now visiting Turkey to get to know their host children’s environment and live with them. During the seminar, we focused on three topics: Reflecting on the exchange experience; Talking about German-Turkish relations, stereotypes, and prejudice and finding new ways to promote German-Turkish exchange, especially when it comes to finding host families in Germany for Turkish teenagers intending to spend a high school year in Germany. ”
Beybin says, “As a Youth Ambassador, besides facilitating the workshop for youth, I also gave particular importance to present and represent the Youth Ambassadors Association. I did a presentation about the association and many of the participants have been motivated by seeing their friends have already taken part in YASP. Question and answer session followed the presentation and many of the participants have been invited to join the next Youth Ambassadors Starters Program (YASP).
Round Table German-Turkish youth work (June 2019)
We think German-Turkish Youth Work as this strong tree that is growing each day. And just like a tree, it is affected by outside factors. As a young branch of this tree that has a potential of getting affected by changing political winds, we have participated in Round Table German Turkish Youth Work to discuss the current situations and the future of German-Turkish Youth work. The event was organized by Jugend Für Europa/ ERASMUS+ with the contributions of the Partner for International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (IJAB) and the German-Turkish Youth Bridge and took place in Bonn in June 2019. Our Youth Ambassador Sönke joined the event on behalf of Jugendbotschafter e. V The main agenda was to discuss the future of the German- Turkish Youth Work. Which direction is German-Turkish Youth Work going especially in times of political tensions? How can we not only sustain the tree but help it blossom when the weather is volatile? Should there be adjustments made to the way we organize projects? The event was full of people who work specifically on German Turkish Youth Work, so we exchanged ideas and experiences. Overall it was a productive event for us with lasting good impacts.
Mercator Scholarship Event (May 2019)
On May 23, 2019, our youth ambassadors Anja and Gözde attended the Mercator Scholarship Event. On this day, around 30 pupils were celebrated and awarded with
scholarship grants from the Mercator Foundation to spend one year abroad in China or Turkey. As Jugendbotschafter e. V. wants to reach out to young people interested in intercultural programs, and especially German-Turkish relations, our youth ambassadors were there together with small information to provide insight on the opportunities to join our association.
Mercator Alumni Meeting (May 2019)
Our youth ambassadors Furkan and Sönke took part in the first Mercator Alumni Meeting in Brussels from 10 to 12 May. The program took place before European elections with visits to the European Policy Center, House of European History and the Parlamentarium. The event also provided a suitable framework for getting in touch with other former participants of Stiftung Mercator programs and exchanging experiences. “It was a great opportunity to learn from each other and to be inspired,” Furkan said. Another highlight was a workshop held by the Center for Multilateral Negotiations. In an interactive format, participants were able to test their negotiation skills and learn how to make their negotiations even more successful based on the Harvard concept. And although the weekend passed in a flash, Sönke says “We grew together as a group incredibly quickly, despite or perhaps especially because of the diversity of the group”.
Turkish National Agency European Day (May 2019)
On 15 May 2019, Turkey’s National Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized an iftar dinner within the frame of European Day 2019. Our youth ambassador İpek had the chance to represent our association and also share the experiences she gained during her ERASMUS and internship semesters in Germany. In the program there has been a specific slot where some students represented their own culture with their music performances, İpek gave a mini-concert to introduce the traditional instrument Oud to the guests. After the event, she summarised her feelings with the following sentence: “I believe in the importance of bringing together students and authorities both from the Turkish National Agency and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in such an event to ensure continuity of this kind of experience.”
EPLM Conference ERASMUS+ (April 2019)
Our Youth Ambassador Seher is reporting from her experience: A society is responsible for all its members. Dialogue, the same chances for everyone and solidarity should be focused much more. With this opinion, I joined the EPLM conference in Ostend, a little town on the western coast of Belgium. The conference targeted the question of the social impact of both national and international ERASMUS+ projects. How can ERASMUS+ programs become more inclusive? How can we sustainably reach young people also with less (financial) means? I was able to collect many concrete project ideas with which we will try to make our programs more inclusive! Aside from the input in this topic, I was especially impressed by the consensus of all the participants: The entire group, no matter which field of work they are active in, which country they come from and which religious beliefs they have, was very motivated to make the idea of the conference come true in the future. The EPLM Conference has been organized by ERASMUS+. We participated together with our partner Transfer e. V.
Project Lab Training Salto Youth (March2019)
As a young association, we are always on a learning path. That path has taken our Youth Ambassador Felix to Bonn in March 2019. He took part in Salto Youth Training by Jugend für Europa. He went there with a project idea and learned further about applying for ERASMUS+ Funding. When he came back, he shared that knowledge with the rest of us. As we exclusively focus on youth work, we try to learn as much as we can about all the options available to us to their smallest details.
DTJB Partner Plattform (December 2018)
Our Youth Ambassador Sönke participated in the Partner Platform 2018 organized by German Turkish Youth Bridge, funded by the Federal Foreign Office.
As for the partner platform, the primary agenda was to look at 2018 retrospectively and analyse what we as organisations in the field of German-Turkish youth work have done so far. What went well, what could have been better? We have brainstormed on ways to improve particular topics such as application processes and structures of funding opportunities
Forschung und Praxis im Dialog (November 2018)
FPD is a network that is coordinated by transfer e. V. and funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth of Germany. Since most of the participants were working on this field for a long time with professionally structured associations, we have not only learned from their experience, but we have also brought in a fresh perspective on international peer to peer youth work. Our Youth Ambassador Sönke was there on behalf of Jugendbotschafter e. V.
Capacity Building (November 2018)
After our founding meeting in July 2018, one of the most important steps was our Capacity Building workshop in November 2018. The event that has been carried out by the German-Turkish Youth Bridge in close contact with us, brought 26 youth ambassadors from both Germany and Turkey together. So, after the kick-off with our founding meeting, this was the perfect opportunity to dig deeper and develop a clearer perspective for the association’s agenda and mission.