Participate to Change

Our Community Engagement Intern wrote earlier this year about some of the experiences that she’s had working with Bradford Museums and Galleries and mentioned that there would be a post coming about the trip she took to Istanbul alongside Jack and Emily.

Without further ado, here it is!

She writes:

At around 6am on Monday 26th January Emily, Jack, Penny, Steve and I piled into a mini bus headed for Manchester airport. We were off to Istanbul to take part in the Participate to Change meeting organised by the Genς Hayat Vakfi (Young Life Foundation)  I can’t say I was completely prepared – if I did I’d be lying, – but I hadn’t forgotten my toothbrush so at least that was a good start.

The Genς Hayat Vakfi is a non-governmental organisation based in Istanbul, Turkey, working towards creating better opportunities for their young population. The Participate to Change meeting brought together participants from Turkey and Britain to discuss the application of youth participation within varying organisations.

Other than ourselves, the British organisations involved were the National Youth Agency (NYA) , and the Medway Youth Trust . Both of these organisations work towards creating opportunities for young people, from sports clubs to work placements.

The NYA hosts an award called Hear By Right which sets out the national participation standards. We heard from the NYA participants about how these standards are gauged and how to achieve them. Participants from the Medway Youth Trust spoke about how they implement youth participation within their organisation as well as arranging it for others, and about how they achieved their gold Hear By Right award.

Talking to the group during a task feedback session.
Talking to the group during a task feedback session.

By discussing the ways in which we are involved in the Bradford Museums and Galleries service, Jack, Emily and I were able to show the ideas discussed by other organisations in practice within a completely different setting. We were able to talk about our interests in the service, the affection we have for our city and how these things are developed through the opportunities we have been given. The response we received about our involvement within BM&G made me really appreciate the time I’ve spent at as a Community Engagement Intern at Bradford Industrial Museum. Being able to show how youth participation can be implemented within any kind of organisation was really beneficial for all involved. It gave hope to the aspirations of the young Turkish people who were working towards involvement within numerous areas, by showing that it can be a success.

The young Turkish people were extremely inspiring. Their knowledge of politics and their government, their views on their education system and equal rights were so comprehensive, and their ability to discuss all of these points in a language that isn’t their first was, quite frankly rather intimidating.

We heard from the Turkish participants about topics important to them, that they would like to be involved with changing and therefore improving. One of the main topics discussed was the education system in Turkey, and its restrictions. There are many examinations to go through, and decisions as to the future education of a child are made at a very early stage with little room for change of direction as they grow and interests change. These examination processes also change from year to year, so that the work of the students is often rendered useless and must be started again.Many young people would like to be involved with the government bodies responsible for these changes, and even in the decision making process so that they can put across the feelings of those that these decisions directly effect. 

The pro-active attitude of these young people is something that needs to be nurtured and encouraged; these people are the future of the country and its successes.

Obligatory tourist selfie at the Galata Tower
Obligatory tourist selfie at the Galata Tower

There also needs to be recognition for the overwhelming sense of hospitality shown to us by the Turkish participants as well as the organisers. With their help we managed to squeeze a little bit of classic tourist time into our lunch breaks (selfie alert…), and even partake in a little after dinner activity in the form of a traditional Turkish dance – Halay.

Turkish Dance - Halay
Turkish Dance – Halay

The workshops, tasks and meetings we were involved in really made me think differently about youth participation, and how it can be integrated into businesses and organisations. It is not only about providing experience to aid people into finding work or pursuing a career path. It is also about providing a platform for people of varied generations to put forward their views on matters that affect them.

The whole group together with our certificates of participation.
The whole group together with our certificates of participation.

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