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Memories of an On Arrival seminar. By Burak Erdemli February 12, 2013

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.
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Before going Athens I heard many things about the city and seminar. Most of them were positive things but I also had some questions in my mind about them. But now I think it was one of best week in Greece during my EVS.

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In Sunday night me and my colleague Ayşe took a train to go to Athens. It was a little strange for us because it was the first trip in Greece. In the morning, after 6 hours of long trip, we arrived to hotel and had rest. In first day there was no seminars and it was a good chance to meet other participants. In lobby we met each other and my first impression was very good. There many lovely people and I like them all at the first time. After that we met our lovely trainers. The first night we did not want to go out and we played games in the lobby of hotel. From the first day I felt very close to volunteers from Serres (Nerea, Umit and Andrea). They were very friendly and talkative people. I am really happy to meet them. Also my roommate, Jacobo, who is from Spain, he was very nice person. After that day from 9am to 3pm everyday we had seminars. Trainers were using non-formal education methods and I think that it is very effective method of teaching. Playing games, talking about our projects and organizations helped to know each other rights. The main purpose of seminar was to teach rights of volunteers, giving information about youthpass certificate and meet with other volunteers and make friends. I can say that it was really efficient about all these things.

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After these classes or in the middle breaks we went to some nice places in Athens by walk. There was a strike in metro lines and because of that we had to walk. But it was a good opportunity for us to see all Athens. We visited main points of Athens and sometimes in the roof of hotel we chat to get know each other well. Roof of hotel had really really nice view of Acropolis. In the night having a dinner with this awesome view of ancient greek history.

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During the seminar I had to chance to see lots of things in Athens. First I was really suprised because Athens was very very different from Thessaloniki. Much more crowded than Thessaloniki, chaotic and complicated. I exprienced positive and negative things together. I know that there are some problems with immigration situtation in Athens. But I saw that it was much more than I imagine. There were many immigrants in the streets and they were in really bad condition. Seeing those with my own eyes was a little shocking. I was reading and hearing from other greek friends something about racism in Greece but before I went to Athens, I did not face it. In the 3rd day of seminar in the Omonia square I saw a man was hitting some black immigrants and saying really bad racial words in Greek. It scared me a little. Being a Turkish in Greece and facing with racism, yes it is a little scary. But I know this racist people are minority in Greek population. After that day while coming back to hotel 2 civil policemen stopped me and asked for papers in very offensive way. First time I saw them I thought that they are from racist group and they realized I am Turkish. After that I understood that they were policemen and we explained ourselves and came to hotel safely. These were two main negative things in Athens that I had experienced.

Except these things every night and day were very funny and enjoyable. With very nice people during the seminar or after it at dinner or in a bar we had lots of fun. I’m still in a contact with them and we are missing each other I know it. In these five days I could not have time to go everywhere in Athens and I was a little sad about that. In the last night one of our trainer, Kostas, told us there is a strike on railways and we cannot go back to Thessaloniki by train. In this subject I really want to thank my organization U.S.B. (United Societies of Balkans) because they faced some problems to help us. After long arguments good news arrived we could stay in hotel two nights more. I changed this negative thing to positive opportunity two more days in Athens with friends. It was really good news for me. In these two days we visited every historical places and museums and I really enjoyed the city.

Saying goodbye to these awesome people was not very easy but I know I will see most of them during my EVS. I really miss them and love them.

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In conclusion, seminar, trainers, non formal learning, Athens, friends, nights, hotel… everything was awesome. Thank you U.S.B. to choose me as a volunteer again and again. And thanks for other volunteers for their lovely friendship. Also thanks for our lovely and friendly trainers.

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