Six months after the first boot camp of the Peacemakers project held at the premises of Erasmus University Rotterdam, the second boot camp was organized and held on the Koc University’s main campus in Istanbul between May 13-17, 2019. The “Peace Envoys” from Koç, Gaziantep, Bologna, Humboldt and Erasmus universities who are responsible for creating peace dialogue students’ clubs in their universities participated in this second boot camp. Scholars from partner universities delivered lectures on various contexts of migration, and guest lecturers talked about their social inclusion projects and real-life experiences in the field. In addition to the lectures, peace envoys had a chance to participate in interactive activities such as “Human Library”, “Intercultural Communication Workshop” and “Interactive Session on Social Discrimination”, and visited NGOs working in the field including the “Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM)” and the Community Center for Syrian Refugees “Refugees and Asylum Seekers Assistance and Solidarity Association (RASAS)”.
Facilitators started with the ice-breaking activities as it was the first activity of the week. New peace envoys from Humboldt University did easily merge with the group in this friendly environment. In the following minutes of this interactive event, the concept of culture was questioned and reexamined. People had dialogued about the elements that make the culture, showing that even in a group of 30 people, culture is not an easy concept to identify. It was an important conclusion that everybody is defining culture from his/her own perspective.
With the help of this session, peace envoys understood the importance of seeing the bigger picture to live in a intercultural community in a healthy way.
In the visit of the Dolapdere Office, volunteers from the NGO has shown around the 5-story building that has many classrooms, playrooms, workshop classes, and computer rooms. Peace envoys had a very fruitful briefing and Q&A session with the volunteers from ASAM. They had the briefing about the current situation of migrants living in the local area and activities of the NGO. After the briefing, peace envoys also saw the nearby area where many of the migrants live in.
After the experience, participants said that this activity was a unique one that in daily life you wouldn’t have a chance to experience. They had a chance to explain their feelings with a couple of words on a piece of paper. Some of the words were; magical, enlightening, fascinating, unexpected, and mind-opening.
This lecture has started with the unique life-story of the Nezih Orhon. He explained his life story to be closer to the listeners. As he realizes that the group is not merged yet, he decided to first energize the group.
To energize the group, he played games with the peace envoys, asking two questions to the peers that he selected. One of them is “tell 3 things about yourself to your peer” and second one is to “give one thing that is important to you to your peer”. Everybody saw that even those two simple questions can help to raise a dialogue between the two and help the prejudices to reduce. After socializing the peace envoys, he explained the project that he supervises that is about the life conditions of the seasonal workers in Turkey. He has explained that the whole project is done by a student and every peace envoy were amazed by the things that one student can do and the hearts that one can heal. After the project that he explained, everyone was one step more aware of the fact that one can change lives.