What did you expect the youth exchange to be like?
As this was my first project I had no real idea in terms of what to expect from it. Having received the schedule of workshops I was afraid that it would be very tiring – essentially a training programme abroad. I was looking forward to meeting new people from different cultures/countries.
Have you been on one before?
What did you do to prepare for the trip?
As this project was ‘Let’s solve Islamophobia’ I decided to go with a completely open mind and be ready to get involved in discussions but to avoid having too many preconceptions prior to the trip. Other than that, I packed and discussed the culture night and sessions we were facilitating with the other UK team members.
How was the travel?
Unfortunately, we had some delays which made us miss our initial connection – so all in all it was a very long journey and tiring. However, it was a good opportunity to meet and talk to the other UK team members through the journey.
What's the topic and what have you learnt so far?
‘Let’s solve Islamophobia’
Personally, I have learnt much about Islam – the most important being people’s individual experiences with Islam (there are 7 members of the UK team and 6 are Muslim) as well as gaining my own experiences with the religion.
The open, friendly and loving nature of the religion really rings true through hearing other people’s relationships with Allah. Furthermore, everyone is a fully integrated member of the group. There are no divisions. Everyone is their true self and accepted for this. I have learnt that there is a large spectrum to how a Muslim chose to express their faith to Allah and that there is no judgement on how you chose to manage this relationship.
I have also learnt how friendly the Turkish are and what a beautiful setting Trabzon is. The food is also fantastic.
What's the best bit so far?
The people. The volleyball. The culture nights. The laughter. The fortune telling.
What has surprised you?
The friendliness of the Islamic community – incredibly helpful, warm and welcoming.
What do you hope for the next half of the youth exchange?
To continue to be challenged so that I can gain a truly worthwhile experience. To spend time with friends. To live, learn and laugh.