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Evren Ergec, the Head of Global Affairs Department of Toplum Gönüllüleri Vakfı (Community Volunteers Foundation) from Turkey has recently been working in YEU office in Brussels.  Well, what is he doing there?

Actually, he is now involved in a project called S.U.I.T.C.A.S.E. – Youth Workers’ Suitcase – Startup/ Initiate/ Train/ Coach for Social Entrepreneurship of Unemployed Youth. Let’s explore this cool-sounding project a little bit more!

 1- Hi Evren, first of all, welcome to the capital of Europe! Can you shortly introduce yourself?

I have been working at the non-for-profit sector since 2001. I have started working even before I graduated from International Relations Department of Galatasaray University. In 2001, I was a project coordinator at a community outreach project in the prefabricated area after the Marmara Earthquake in Düzce. The history of civil society movement in Turkey, the Marmara Earthquake was also a breaking point for my life and parallel to the rise at the civil society sector in Turkey afterwards I have also chosen to express myself as an NGO professional.

I am still working in a youth NGO as the head of global affairs department that is working for three main pillars: new partnerships & global networking, global visibility, cross cultural youth work. Shortly, I am a passionate civil society manager working for and with young people for the promotion of human & social rights.

2- How long have you been here and how much longer will you stay?

I came to Brussels on the 3rd of June as I waited almost two months for getting a long-stay visa and I am staying in Brussels till September.  It is still really challenging to travel from Turkey to the EU countries. Of course I am not the only one facing with such obstacle, especially young people living in Turkey have hundreds of different stories about their visa processes. It would be a good idea to collect these stories and publish a book on it to work for the visa-free travel.    

3- Can you describe the Suitcase project? How did you decide to be a part of it?

Actually it is a project that is funded by the European Commission (sub-action 4.3) supporting the youth workers’ mobility and it is a unique opportunity for the youth workers living in the programme countries. Partnering organizations can exchange the youth workers for a period of time for a cause. YEU INT partnering with TOG applied to this opportunity and got the funding for realization so the process is still going on in the two cities under the two organizations.  

I would like to take part in that project as I really would like to experience in a different working reality.  The SUITCASE  is a project that wants the youth workers to start thinking on implementing projects on social entrepreneurship for the sake of the young people with less opportunities. It is always challenging to include young people with fewer opportunities to social entrepreneurship. The project aims to overcome this reality by creating a handbook on the subject for the young people, youth workers, trainers and the youth NGOs gathering the knowledge from the field through mapping, researching and of course contacting.   

 4- You have long been working for TOG. Are there any major differences between working as a youth worker in Turkey and Belgium?

Well, I am not practicing the youth work on the local level as I am working at the office of an international youth network. On the other hand I have also chance to work in a multi cultural milieu at the global affairs department of TOG as it has always interns and EVS volunteers coming from different countries. In that sense, there is not any major difference.

5- When you go back to Istanbul, Turkey, will there be any changes in the way of your doing through the experience that you have in Brussels?

I have some new plans for the Global Affairs Department and TOG is in a process of implementing a new bilateral project called “Youth Bridge” with Mercator Stiftung from Germany so there will be new challenges waiting in Istanbul and I am sure the energy that I have from Brussels will also be helpful.

6- Do you have something to add?

YEU is really an important source and network for the youth work and young people not just only in Europe as it has member organizations from the other parts of the world. The member organizations must think to put more efforts to develop the network while developing their own work on the local or national level keeping in mind that what we do on the local, national level mostly do not have any direct relation with the network so we as representing the member organizations must think to create new ways of doing for the network as well.

 Thank you very much! Keep us updated and please enjoy Belgian way of life! J

Özen Pulat

Newsmail Journalist

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