Abroad // Youth Exchange “Power of Art”, Ayvalik, Turkey

In August 2021 over thirty young people from Germany, Turkey, Croatia, Poland and Italy came together for a youth exchange. The topic of this exchange was “Power of Art” – so we learned a lot about environment protection in different countries and how art can help to express the importance of this topic.

On the first day, after getting to know each other and talking about our fears, expectations and the rules, we split up into groups and did a city rally to get to know the city of Ayvalik. During the rally we had a lot of fun tasks like singing a turkish folk song with strangers on the street and filming this or taking a photo of us drinking turkish tea. Afterwards we all met up to visit an art exhibition by a young man and really enjoyed seeing how much art can be used to communicate with the world and to convey ideas.

The second day started, again, with a turkish breakfast, followed by some energizers. Full of energy participants from each country prepared a presentation about environment protection in their country. It was really interesting to learn more about environment protection practices in different countries and afterwards discuss about advantages and disadvantages of those practices. After having lunch we got creative. We again split up into nationality-mixed, smaller groups and were asked to prepare a drama about upcycle or recycle. In the evening we had the first intercultural night for this exchange. Participants from Germany, Italy and Croatia presented their countries by singing songs, playing games, dancing as well as serving some traditional snacks and drinks.

The next day we did a boat trip for the whole day. After some resting and sunbathing on the boat in the morning we had the chance to either go scuba diving or go for a swim in the crystal clear blue water.

On the fourth day the artist from the art exhibition we visited the first day came to do a workshop with us. During the workshop he explained the main colours, mid colours and some technics of painting. Afterwards we were split into four groups and were given the task to do our own painting in which we express our message about the environment. Those paintings were shown in the artists gallery in an exhibition on the last day of the exchange! In the evening the second and last intercultural night of the exchange took place. Participants from Turkey and Poland presented their countries by again serving some typical snacks and drinks as well as singing songs, teaching some traditional dances and playing games.

On the next day we continued preparing the art exhibition for the last day by creating a second painting. The paintings were, again created in groups, using amongst others some photos cut from magazines and garbage in order to reuse those objects and upcycle. In the afternoon we again visited a really interesting art exhibition by an older lady. We even had the chance to meet the artist, talk to her about her art and ask her questions. In the evening a live music event took place where we could listen to some local Turkish musicians singing Turkish songs.

On the last day we started with some energizers and team building games in the morning. Around noon time group leaders from Poland, Germany, Italy, Croatia and Turkey visited the Ayvalik District Governor. They talked to him about the youth exchange and how the enjoyed their stay in Ayvalik. In the afternoon we had some free time to explore the town by ourselves and buy souvenirs. After the last dinner together we all met for a closing ceremony. Each participants was talking about their experiences during the exchange and was given the Youthpass certificate.

Moreover every morning we had language classes. Each day participants from a different country taught some useful phrases and words in their mother language which was really interesting.

During the exchange we got to know different cultures, met new people with different backgrounds, shared our opinions and knowledge with each other and learned a lot about environment protection. In the end, the major skills we have learned were cultural sensitivity, group cooperation, creative learning and communicating skills. We learned about environmental protection, green nature, recycling as wells as upcycling through painting and art. In conclusion we improved and learned skills and tools for making our world more sustainable and protect our environment through the power of art.

Halil, Teresa, Abdul, Leon, Kezban

The project “Power of Art” was hosted by Aegean Ecotourism Association and financed by the Erasmus+ Programme.