Building Bridges into the Migrationside of Europe – Network Meeting Gaziantep

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The NWM in Gaziantep was a great success! It took place from the 18th to the 22nd of October and we had everything: A nice hotel, delicious Turkish food (every time in a restaurant) and interesting workshop and sessions (everything for only a 30€ participation fee!). About 30 participants came from different Turkish antennas, 4 from Germany (Mannheim, Aachen, Dresden, Berlin), 2 from the Netherlands, 1 from Russia and 1 from Hungary. Loes (President of AEGEE-Europe) and Reka (former President) have also been there.

We all were a bit surprised that Gaziantep is a big modern city with a relatively high standard of living, many students and open-minded inhabitants – in South-East Turkey, very close to the Syrian border. Even if it was end of October, the sun was always shining and the weather was warm.

On Wednesday we arrived in our comfortable hotel. In the late afternoon we started with the opening ceremony. After our Welcome Dinner in a turkish restaurant, we went tubing on a mountain and had a party outside with turkish music and turkish dances.

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The next day we had a big city tour. We saw many places of Gaziantep and visited some museums, a castle, the bazaar and the municipality. Also included in our city tour was the visit of a Syrian school. We could talk with the children (I am glad that I could talk with them in Turkish without a translator). The day ended again with dinner in a restaurant and a party.

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Our workshops started on Friday. We had sessions to get to know AEGEE and the network commission, presented the SWOT analysis of our locals and evaluated them in groups. In the evening we had again dinner and party. On Saturday we had two guests from Syria who are living now in Turkey. They told us about their escape from Syria and their life in Gaziantep. In the afternoon, we could choose a workshop, e. g. fundraising, PR etc. And finally, our European Night took place. The organizers brought some delicious Baklava for us which Gaziantep is famous for.

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The NWM ended on Sunday. We had breakfast for the last time together in the hotel, had a panel discussion on the Turkish-European Relations and evaluated the NWM. The official part of the event was finished now. But the organizers and most of the participants went together to a restaurant for a good-bye-lunch and afterwards to a bar, drinking çay and mocha.

To sum up: I had a very exciting and enjoyable time in Gaziantep with numerous positive impressions, much comfort regarding the logistics and many new friends in Turkey and within AEGEE. Gaziantep is such a nice city and I can highly recommend you to visit it as well as other places in Turkey!

Text & Photos: Leonie Grauwinkel