Yobba: Youth Beyond Borders Association

İlke’nin İsveç Gençlik Değişimi Deneyimi


Hello, I am İlke Kocaoğlu. I’m a 24-year-old psychology student in İstanbul Medipol University. Nowadays I’m studying hard for my master’s degree applications. I have been participating to Erasmus+ youth exchange projects since November 2021. The project “Back to Business” in Sweden was my 3rd Erasmus+ youth exchange project.

First, Erasmus+ projects provide a way to participate in projects with various topics in many different countries. This opportunity worth as gold for young people with fewer life standards. In my case, I have never been to European countries before, but thanks to Erasmus+ projects, in around 6 months, I have visited 5 countries. Besides of visiting and traveling beautiful countries, I got the chance to be a voice in different topics of the projects. In the projects you get to meet with people from different cultural backgrounds and you can learn what kinds of perspectives they have on the issued topic. In addition, the connections you make with young people from all around the world provides you a broader perspective about your environment and personal growth. In the projects you don’t represent only you and yourself, but you represent your sending organization and your country. Teaching people about your familiar environment, your traditions and correcting the stereotypes are one of the unique plus sides of these projects.
After I attended to a meeting which Erasmus Plus Türkiye prepared in Türkiye, I got the chance to share my experiences with people in my country and inspire them about applying such projects. I learnt more about Youth Beyond Borders Association in this meeting and discovered the opportunities they provide in terms of Erasmus+ projects. I was fascinated by the organization’s perspective on disseminating these projects to young people in Türkiye and applied to project in Sweden, Gothenburg immediately when the call was open. My previous project experiences were about social integration and migrant participation in society and the project in Sweden themed “Back to Business” was about migrants’ integration in social entrepreneurship. I was so excited about the project topic because I want to work with migrants, immigrants and refugees in the future and I believed that the project will be very effective on both: personal development in my field and my contributions to the project due to my previous experiences.

After I got selected to the project, in each step I take YOBBA was there for me. For all my questions, my personal distress about little details they supported me and my teammates. As the Turkish group, we connected so fast, and our connection also reflected in the project. The participant profile was so young but after some point, the age difference was not even visible. The project consisted of people from Spain, Slovakia, Serbia, Italy, Greece and Turkey. There were also participants from Ukraine. It was so different for me to meet with Ukrainian young people because we all knew that they went through so hard times and they still do, but meeting with them in person and sharing experiences with them was so influential for me. We connected with participants and hosting organization so quick that I still can’t believe we spent just a week in Gothenburg. In first half of the week, we turned into ourselves in workshops. The topics of the workshops were mainly about discovering our wishes, goals and developing our communication skills. In the second half of the week, we focused on our business ideas. We formed groups according to similarities of our business ideas. We shared our perspectives about our ideas and finalized a more developed product at the end. The day we visited Gothenburg center, we interviewed with local people about our business ideas and collected feedbacks from them. At the end of the project, we presented our final findings and gave feedback to each other. I always had an idea for future in terms of social entrepreneurship, but I never really thought a lot about the details and the path I should take. This project made me realize my capabilities and helped me to make a blueprint of my idea in my mind. We had many mindfulness practices during the project. I was familiar with these practices, so I didn’t have problems with them. We had evaluation groups and we evaluated the day at the end of workshops every day. I appreciate this very much because whenever I gave some feedback and criticize some little details about the project, it was always considered by facilitators. This made me feel really respected as a participant. Hosting organization was very helpful in every problem we had, and they were so patient. I am so grateful for this incredible opportunity given to us by the partnership of YOBBA and Positive Youth NGO. I am looking forward to meeting with YOBBA in the future projects as well.

İlke Kocaoğlu.

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YOBBA, seyahat etmeyi hayatının merkezine oturtmuş, seyahat etmenin ve farklı kültürlerde uzun süre bulunmanın bakış açısına olumlu etkisine inanan, yeni kültürler tanımanın insanı geliştirmedeki büyük gücünden ilham alan ve seyahati herkes için ulaşılabilir hale getirmeye çalışan arkadaşların bir araya gelmesiyle kurulmuş bir gençlik derneğidir.