Spotlight on EYP Turkey

Known for its unique sessions in the heart of Bosphorus, our National Committee spotlight series continues with EYP Turkey. İrem Apaydın (19) and Emir Lise (18) will take this opportunity to explain what role the network plays in Turkey and share their excitement for the Training for EYP Trainers they will be hosting this year:

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Do you remember how you got involved in EYP? 

İrem: My name is İrem Apaydın and I am 19 years old studying Liberal Arts and Sciences with a focus on Economics and Sustainability. I got involved with this network thanks to the EYP club of my high school, which organised the 1st School Session of EYP Turkey in 2016. It was an amazing experience to see how well people from different backgrounds can work together and how a 4-day event can unite such different people. At the end of the closing ceremony, I knew I had become a part of something special.

Emir: Hello gentlewomen and men! My name is Emir Lise. I am 18 and a senior aspiring to study Data Science in Shanghai in the upcoming year. I met with EYP when I was a freshman three years ago. My curiosity to explore different cultures and learn from different perspectives pushed me to apply to the EYP club my school has. Luckily for me, at the same time, my school was hosting the 19th National Selection Conference of EYP Turkey. I did not know what to expect out of it at the start, yet after the session, I knew that I must be involved with it.

What is your role in National Committee and what do you like most about it? 

İrem: Currently, I am the Human Resources Director of EYP Turkey. I am mainly responsible for member related issues such as recruiting new members, organising member events which contribute to their personal development, arranging the delegations we will send to the sessions abroad and communication through the national network. The thing that I like most about my role is the possibility to have personal interactions within the community. Being the main contact person for trainings and members, I get the chance to know more about the members and witness the impact we actually have on them, which motivates me to do more.

Emir: I am the Secretary-General of the current board of EYP Turkey. My main job is to keep our minute book updated after each decision we make, however, we wanted to this position to be more active in the decision-making process, thus I am also working as a second vice president, helping rest of the board to plan our upcoming events and find ways to outreach to more young brilliant minds in Turkey we haven’t discovered yet.

Is there a unique perspective you personally bring to your National Committee you’d be comfortable sharing, in terms of e.g. background, experience, culture, education?

İrem: I know that everyone goes through rough times at some point in their lives and during these times it can be really hard for one to realize their own value. Having been there, I can easily say that EYP has helped me to understand my own worth better. In every session I attended, I met with wonderful people from different backgrounds and each of them had a unique story to tell. Listening to these stories, I started to comprehend that the things we go through build our character and in some way gives us strength. Being able to share my own story gave me the power to accept that I have flaws just like everyone else. Additionally, EYP’s priority on inclusion made me feel respected and created a moving home for me. I want every member of our National Committee to feel the same type of support and see that EYP is the place they can be themselves without being judged. Therefore, I pay attention to ensure the no-discrimination policy is respected in our events.  From small things like checking every email sent to keep them free from any offensive wording or etc. to bigger tasks such as broadening the scope of our events so that it is accessible to all, I strive to push our NC to be a more inclusive network. Luckily I have 6 other board members who understand the importance of inclusion and share my vision of a better network. Knowing the effect of our actions on the network, we work together to provide a safe space for all the current, past and prospect members.

Emir: My life was full of travelling due to my father’s occupation. I lived in four different cities before I moved out of my family’s house to study high school in Istanbul. I could not really associate myself to a place or any friend groups I had because I always had to leave. Coming to Istanbul all alone only increased my fears of not connecting with people. Now, looking back after three years of EYP, I made many close friends from Portugal, the United Kingdom and Finland that I talk on a daily basis regardless of the kilometres we have between us. What we have is something truly special. Inspired by our friendships, it became utterly important to me to ensure that our National Committee’s members are active abroad in different sessions. Thus, we try to send as many members to different sessions in different countries.

Tell us about one activity/event/outreach of your National Committee that you are proud of.

İrem: I am very proud of the Officials’ Training concept we have started this year. I think it is a great initiative to offer more to our members and support them as much as we can in their journey. Based on the feedback we have received from participants, the first one was a huge success. This year we started shifting our focus towards member development more and are so happy that we are given the opportunity to make a contribution to the whole EYP community by hosting the next Training for EYP Trainers. Hosting the T4ET will be our chance to take our trainings to the next level while showing the beauty our country has to offer. I could not be happier about the future events yet to be organised within our NC for our members and beyond!

Emir: I feel immensely proud of bringing the regional session concept to EYP Turkey this year. Turkey is such a large country and having two national sessions in big cities were insufficient to meet our outreach aim we put ourselves to give chance to more people to be a member of our family and experience EYP to the fullest. I truly believe that this initiative will enable us to increase the number of our active members from different regions in Turkey.

Why do you think it is important to have EYP in your country? / What impact do you think EYP initiatives hold on the young people of your country?

İrem: Generally, when I say I am a part of EYP Turkey, many people question why there is a European Youth Parliament present in a non-EU country. Although it is a fair question, I believe such way of thinking limits the concept of EYP to just stimulating the European Parliament whereas it is much more. It is a platform that encourages young people to talk about existing issues in their communities and drives the discussion of possible solutions further by questioning which institution can do what and how they can do it. It teaches the participants how to debate respectfully and more importantly, highlights the importance of unity. I think it is really important to have EYP in Turkey because it not only opens up discussions about common problems but also provides the participants with the chance of connecting with people from different countries and share their stories. It is true that EYP builds a bridge between cultures expanding from the west to the east and this is of utmost importance as in today’s world problems are no longer bound by country borders. If we want to create change in the near future, we need a network like EYP to build a community of youth that thinks outside the box and is able to work together regardless of their background or country of origin. 

Emir: Considerable portion of our population is eurosceptic, and this inevitably affects the work we do and how we are seen. It is not about being anti or pro-EU. Leaving all the political opinions aside, I believe EYP serves a greater role in educating youth to be aware and active in their own community. It serves as a simulation to showcase different opinions and teach youth how to find common grounds when faced an opposition. It teaches to respect, to care, and to seek the better for others. In the 21st century of mass media and targeted political campaigns, it is indeed now harder than ever to find your own truths and what you truly believe in. Core values of EYP in that sense facilitate youth to have ownership of their ideas and be active in the decisions made regarding their lives.