There are very few AEGEE contacts which are as enthusiastic as the members of the AEGEE Contact in Gaziantep. You haven’t heard of the city? It’s Turkey’s sixth biggest city with 1.8 million inhabitants. Two days ago the new AEGEE group, which is living 130 kilometres from the Syrian border, organised their first big local event with 150 participants – a tubing festival with music and barbecue. Kürşat Yaşar, board member in charge of external affairs, told the Golden Times, why you can expect great things of the future antenna!

Kursat Yasar
Kürşat Yaşar

GT: How was your first event?
Kürşat Yaşar: It was awesome! Last Saturday approximately 150 people were coming to our tubing festival. Tubing is a kind of sledding on a boat in a tube. We organized it for students at our university mainly. We also had a DJ and a barbecue!

GT: Congratulations! You think some of them will become member?
Kürşat: Should be. Our advertisements will be successful if we continue to organise good things. By now all students know we are good at organising and that we already have a lot of members.

GT: How many members does your AEGEE Contact have?
Kürşat: We have approximately 50 members. We will become contact antenna soon, at Agora Bergamo! We hope to be able to go there with a big delegation!

Tubing2GT: Have you organised something like the tubing festival before? And how did you get the idea?
Kürşat: I did something before joining AEGEE, but it was the first for our new AEGEE group. We have a lot of projects in our mind – stay tuned!

GT: Who had the idea to found AEGEE in Gaziantep?
Kürşat: Tugba Abaci founded the Contact last year. Most things were done however by Cagin Demirasal, our new President. A few weeks ago we elected a new enthusiastic board. We are the fresh blood! We have an awesome group and time by time we understand the AEGEE values.

GT: What do your members study?
Kürşat: 90% study engineering, 10% are in other departments.

GT: Do you already have plans for further events?
Kürşat: Yes. We would like to make an Erasmus Plus project if possible. İf we will become antenna we will also organise a Network Meeting and a Summer University. Before AEGEE we did a lot of project as a group of friends, but now we are working for AEGEE!

GT: You know the AEGEE terminology already really well. Did you already attend some events outside of Gaziantep?
Kürşat: Yes, we went to AEGEE-Hatay’s Local Training Course ALEK a few weeks ago. We enjoyed it a lot and we promised to AEGEE-Adana that we are going to go to their Portakal Cicegi Festival.

GaziantepGT: Gaziantep is close to the Syrian border. Is it difficult to reach for AEGEE members? And what do you say to people who wonder whether it is safe to travel there?
Kürşat: You can come easily here by plane from Istanbul or from abroad. The border is indeed very close to us – about 130 kilometres. Many people thinks that Gaziantep might not be safe, but they are wrong. We have not felt anything about the war in Syria. We were not affected – we are safe and the life is going in its routine way.

GT: Sounds good.
Kürşat: We have eight different ethnic groups living in Gaziantep. The people of Turkey got used to live with Syrians and we usually have perfect friendship with them. It happens also that women from Syria marry men from Turkey. We are like brothers – the nationality doesn’t matters for us; we are humans, we have the same culture. Among the 65,000 students, we have also approximately 2000 Syrian students at Gaziantep University. None of them has ever showed any kind of racist behaviour. We are happy to live with Syrian students!

Gaziantep signGT: How many AEGEE members do you have from Syria?
Kürşat: We have 10 members from Syria. They are very hardworking and like all of our members they want to travel to the rest of Europe, but we are afraid Europe won’t give them visa. We have some project about fixing the visa problem, but so far we haven’t fixed it yet.

GT: They are refugees or have been living in Turkey for a long time?
Kürşat: They have been here for almost four years.

Gaziantep3GT: So they won’t come to Bergamo?
Kürşat: No, I don’t think so, because of visa problems.

GT: That’s a pity. How is the atmosphere in your AEGEE group?
Kürşat: We are like a family. When we want to do something together, we decide quickly and then we succeed in it perfectly. To sum it up, we show how great work you can do together without racist and political conflicts with a group of many national backgrounds, such as Turkish, Kurdish or Arab. We are able to make great local activities, because this group is the most popular group in Gaziantep University.