I was a hyperactive and naughty child in elementary school. I fought constantly and escaped from school where I got beaten up just because I did not know Turkish. My mother tongue is Kurdish, It is the language I learned when I was born.
One day, after fighting with my friends, I cried and went to the school garden. That is where she was, the one I cannot forget. She approached me and asked me “why are you crying?, what happened?”. “My friends beat me and ignored me. Nobody loves me”. She said “No, even if nobody loves you, don’t worry I love you more than anyone”. This day, a light of hope grew inside me. She was my English teacher and the one who lit that light. Her name is Hümeyra.
School lessons of such a good person, a person who cares about me could not be bad. That’s what I thought after this encounter and I worked hard in her class. I got straight As in English. Then, our ways separated. I went to high school and then university. I chose computer engineering as my degree, which is taught entirely in English.
In the university, I wanted to be like her and add something to people’s lives. That is why I joined volunteering projects. With my volunteering group, we have visited and enjoyed spending time with children who suffer from Leukemia, we have collected books for children who do not have books, and many more social awareness projects.
I was then trained in human rights and became a trainer. We have given trainings at different universities in Turkey. While working in this area, I realized that we need human rights in this country more than anywhere. But we can only do so much because we knew that if we were to work in this area and try to change things, we will end up in prison. Because of this, we focus on raising awareness. And despite the difficult situation in our country, we are not giving up.
Then I saw something on the internet. An international project talking about Social Justice. May be there is justice in elsewhere that does not exist here? I was very happy when I heard that I was selected for this program, the NOW Journey. I was sure that during the program I would develop myself and when I returned back home, I would bring very different experiences to people and maybe be able to raise awareness better.
My trip to the NOW Encounter was my first time traveling abroad. When I came to the Alps, the beauty of nature made me feel so peaceful. The Journey finally began. I was so surprised with it all. I was very impressed by the fact that people from all different cultures worked together for a common purpose. Our differences made no difference because we had the same purpose, to make the world better place.
Visiting the best place I’ve ever been to
After 10 days of great training, I set out to continue my journey in my hometown. As soon as I returned, I started working on my project. I managed to implement it despite the impossibilities in the country. We painted a three-block primary school with 80 volunteers. After that, I went to the Buddy Exchange to Bosnia and Herzegovina and got to know about Bosnia’s culture and the life of my buddy. Bakir has been an important person in the changes that happened in my life. Bosnia was the best place I’ve ever seen in my life and the best life experience I’ve ever had. Then we went to Serbia for the Future Forum and we talked about what would happen after the NOW Journey. And then… the Journey was over. It was very sad to leave my friends. Especially, separating from Bakir was so sad. He was my best friend. He still is 🙂
These experiences abroad played such an important role in how my life changed. I now understand that I do not want to live in Turkey. I started looking for opportunities to do an internship abroad. My coach and mentor Rahel recommended me an EVS (Euroepan Volunteering Service) opportunity. She gave me a lot of psychological support during my application, and I selected. Starting this August I will volunteer for 1 year in Norway.
All of what I’ve been through has changed my life, just because of one sentence “I love you”. The one sentence turned all the wrong things in a person’s life to good. My teacher Hümeyra’s love, my family’s love, NOW team and especially Rahel’s love, Bakir’s love are all the love buds that have influenced my life.
By the way, Tolstoy’s book; Meaning of Life is written about this. I advise it.
Whenever, you come up with a challenge, never give up. Even if you fail, you will know which way is wrong and you will choose another way. Believe in yourself. Stay strong. Be well.
Serhat is a NOW Journey alumni and NOW team member. He lives in Adana, Turkey.