Day 1: Orientation
(Quick note: If you’re not informed about our project and KU Global Aid, you should check the previous post in our blog.)
It has officially begun: Last Friday, we had the first session of our workshops! It was a magical day for all of us in the KUGlobalAid team, witnessing our efforts transforming into two hours full of new experiences. The process flowed smoothly and naturally, just as we planned. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about it as much as we enjoyed being a part of it!
As the volunteer team, we were ready at Uzun Yusuf Middle School at 2 pm, all excited and eager to start the workshop. Uzun Yusuf is a public school in a central neighborhood of İstanbul, with a very diverse student body, creating the ideal atmosphere for our workshops. We had already met the children’s parents before, but we wanted to getting accustomed to the school environment and introduce ourselves to the teachers. After meeting them and discussing the details of our workshop for the last time, we went to the school gym to meet the first participants:
Forty students aged between 10 and 12 are participating in the first phase of our project. They are a mixed group of Turkish and foreign children, and we met them for the first time before starting the activities. Thankfully, the orientation process went in the best way we could have hoped for: kids seemed happy and energetic, and coordinated with us eagerly. Our first activity was aimed at learning the students’ names. We asked the them to prepare namecards and draw images related to their identity on them, using colorful pens. As the KUGA team, we also participated in this activity and make namecards for ourselves. They created very unique and interesting works, and we all got to know each other through the activity.
Our next step was called “Find Each Other” (“Birbirini Bul”) and its purpose was to help participants discover more about their friends and create a deeper sense of understanding within the group. Students were expected to find the other participants who have specific interests (like playing a musical instrument or liking chocolate) and write their names down on a form.
Children reacted very well to this part of our session. By the end of the activity, there wasn’t any child with an empty form: they had all interacted with someone. During the activity, we also observed their participation and encouraged them to speak with their classmates.
At the end of this part, we had a small discussion section, in which we asked them about the new things they learned about their friends, as well as the common interests that they have. Later on, we divided the students into three smaller, color-coded groups and went back to classrooms.
The children’s next task was to determine the “class constitution” together. This was a very important activity of the day, aligned with the core values of our project: creating a democratic and understanding environment for education. Firstly, we presented very basic rules to the children, which prepared the grounds for respect towards class members. After discussing these basics and making sure that they all agree with them, we moved on to more specific rules that they want in the class. They seemed very happy to express their own needs and expectations from a peaceful class atmosphere. It affected us deeply to see how all of the group felt empowered by taking on their own responsibility.
When everybody agreed on the constitution, the students moved on to creating a class logo together. In turns, they drew interesting patterns and symbols on the board. After that, they brought them all together to form a whole that carries the unique touch of every group member, representing their belonging to the class.
The most entertaining activity of the session was the one in which the children created their in-group salutation. We formed a circle together, and tried the movements recommended by students. The end result was quite interesting. Try this: Stand up, pat your knees three times, tilt your waist to sides three times, clap, make a heart shape with your hands and jump. Congratulations, you’ve learned the special saluation of the yellow group!
In th end, we are proud to say that the first week was a success. We managed to fulfill the main objectives of the day: we learned about the children, created a supportive basis for the rest of the weeks. We had anticipated the negative possibilities for this week beforehand: the children might have been reluctant to take part in the process, or they might have felt bad and left it. To our relief, none of these happened and the process made us believe once more that theseworkshops will be very meaningful for our participants. This experience taught us a lot, too: we had our own discussion after the kids left, talking about how we can improve ourselves. We can’t wait for the next session to guide the students through an even better experience!
The next session of our workshop will be conducted two weeks after, on March 8th. If you wish to learn more about our project and join us in this journey, keep following us!