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Saloniki, old and beautiful like a wine. By Necdet Burak Özyurt November 15, 2013

Posted by usbngo in Older Posts.
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ImageEverything happened suddenly. The time that I started feeling hopeless for my applications about doing an EVS, someone called me and said to me ‘your EVS application is accepted, you will go to Greece.’ Aha! It was my dream. The idea of going to Greece, specially to Saloniki, and live there for 10 months from where my grandparents left in 1912, excited me. Everything happened suddenly. I was going to Saloniki, to United Societies Balkans (U.S.B.) which is my new family.

I came to Saloniki on the 7th of November. It was a sunny day. Also it was my first travel with plane, that’s why it was so interesting for me. Finally, I couldn’t escape from planes forever. Olympia Datsi my mentor and Aris Parashou, my EVS coordinator, picked me up from the airport. It was a very kind gesture. After that they showed to me my new home and I met other volunteers, my new friends. They welcomed me so friendly. But if it is your first time in abroad, it’s not easy. It was needed in the beginning to discover Thessaloniki with my photo camera in order to touch city’s face. That experience affected me a lot. Yes, I knew that Turks and Greeks have so many similarities but to see this position and feel it, it’s so different and affective. Also I knew it before that I didn’t come to a totally European city. Through my eyes, Saloniki looks similar to Istanbul and Izmir; a city between West and East, Europe and Asia, modern and traditional. It seems so rich to me. I continue observing this wealth in the streets of Saloniki. This city lives with its history and still carries the culture of the Romans, Byzantines, Turks, Jews and Greeks. Thessaloniki is at the same time an old and beautiful city like a wine. I understood now, why the King Philipp, Alexander the Great’s father, gave to his daughter the name, ‘Salonika’.

In the U.S.B., I work with Spanish, Italian, German and Bulgarian friends. Also I live with them. It was my dream too, to touch each other’s cultures and to learn something about them. By the way, I start learning Greek. I attended a Greek course 3 years ago in Istanbul but I couldn’t continue it and now I have a great chance to attend a class and speak Greek. I can read Constantine P. Cavafi’s poems in originally texts, now I have that chance. I have many hopes and expectations for my volunteer term.

As I said my grandparents came from Saloniki to Minor Asia. I feel special things about it. I remember of Manolis who is one of the main characters in Dido Sotiriu’s novel (Matomena Homata). I greet him from Saloniki! Ironically I have a new family in this city.

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* Necdet does his European Voluntary Service, supported and funded by the Turkish National Agency under the Youth in Action programme. His Sending Organization is TREX-EVS (http://www.trexevs.org).

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