AEGEE-Eskişehir knows how to organize a great Summer University. Last year, their SU was rated the fourth best of 81 SUs. Also this year they offer a truly spectacular programme. Main topic of the Summer University “My Culture, Your Picture” (4-19 July) is photography. The Turkish coast will offer the perfect scenery for the participants’ photos. Ali Can Ünlü, main coordinator of the SU, and Ceyda Peker, Juridical Commissioner of AEGEE-Eskişehir, told the Golden Times why this SU is the perfect choice.

Ali Can Ünlü

Golden Times: Why will the SU of AEGEE-Eskişehir be one of the best Summer Universities this year?
Ali Can Ünlü & Ceyda Peker: Turkey is a huge open-air museum, a repository of all the civilizations nurtured by the soils of Anatolia. The huge historical and archaeological wealth seems more appropriate for an entire continent than a single country. In our SU you will have the chance to take photography lessons in these incomparable beauties; be sated with the best shades of the green and the blue. The SU party themes will be based on trademarks of cities we visit. Apart from these, with scuba diving you will be surrounded by hidden undersea beauties. We are sure that we – with our energetic participants – will be the best SU this year!

Golden Times: Why did you choose photography as main topic?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Photography has become the one of the most popular hobbies in the world. But why don’t we make our hobby into a passion with the help of professional training? We decided to use our experience from previously photography SUs and combine it with Anatolian cultures that vary in every part of Turkey. By doing so, we aim to train while participants have fun.


Golden Times: What kind of photography teachers will you have? Are they professionals?
Ali Can & Ceyda: We prefer to work with experts and decided that professionals will give the courses. We are in contact with photography centers and groups, exposition corporations and freelancers that are specialized in fashion, nature photography, architectural photography and more. We are still in the phase of negotiations, but you can be sure that you will be in safe hands.

Golden Times: What will they teach the participants?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Every place we will visit has been chosen based on suitability of a certain photography branch. Following basic training that will be in Eskişehir, a nature photography course will be presented at places that commune with nature, architectural photography course will be at places of architectural beauties and cultural photography courses will be given everywhere. The participants may ask our trainers every detail that they want to know.

Ceyda Peker

Golden Times: Can you give examples of the places where photography exercises will take place?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Of course! For example, we will visit the Phrygian Valley for a photography and cultural workshop. Most people are familiar with the stunning Cappadocian landscape, but far fewer visit the almost equally beautiful Phrygian Valley in western Anatolia, even though it harbors the finest relics of the lost civilization of King Midas, the king with the famous golden touch. Our participants’ photos will be on display in an exhibition at Ayvalık with their names.

Golden Times: In the programme it says that this Summer University will also be a journey through history. In what sense?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Actually the hint about it is in our SU promo video. Metaphorically, our participants will board a time machine while they come our SU and then a journey of Anatolian history will start from present to the first years of history.

The Phrygian Valley

Golden Times: During your event you will not only stay in Eskişehir, but will visit other places too. To which cities will you go?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Our SU starts in Eskişehir that is one of the most important student cities in Turkey. We think it’s very suitable to show how young people live in Turkey. After that we will go to Bursa. This city is the Ottoman Empire’s first capital and as you can guess there are a lot of historical remains. The third stop, Ayvalık, is the perfect place to see the cultural diversity, from Greek culture to Turkish culture. When you are walking on the streets it feels like you are living in those times. Every building still protects its historical structure and you can see mosques and churches stand together. Our last stop will be Kusadasi, which is a good base to explore the ancient cities and to relax at the endless sea. It is very close to Ephesos, one of the biggest archaeological areas in Turkey and to Şirince, which is well-known for a wide selection of local wines. Şirince wines are from many types of fruit, particularly peaches, blueberries and local grapes. The Sirince winery producess 12 kinds of fruit wines and you are going to taste all these delicious wines during the city tour. Moreover, each one of these cities tells our mythological stories.

Ulu Cami, the Great Mosque of Bursa

Golden Times: What will be the programme highlights in Eskişehir?
Ali Can & Ceyda: It is really hard to select just a couple of highlights, since Eskişehir is a shining star of Turkey with its cultural-social activities and historical heritage. But apart from the photography workshops, we would like to highlight the “Turkish Cuisine” and “Turkish Folk Dances” workshops. In the Turkish Cuisine workshop we will not only teach how to cook, but also want you to apply what you’ve learned. We will divide the participants into small groups and each group will have different recipes. It will be kind of cooking contest. In the second workshop, Turkish Folk Dances, you will have the chance to learn how to dance Turkish Folks since Turkey has a very ancient folk dance tradition, which varies from region to region, each dance being colorful, rhythmic, elegant and stylish. The participants will have learned the chance to perform their new skills during the Cultural European Night which will take place in Eskişehir as well.

Golden Times: What will be the programme highlights in Bursa?
Ali Can & Ceyda: The city smells history since it was the first major city of the Ottomans. We are going to visit all the famous monuments and historical areas in Bursa. The main places to go to are for example Ulu Cami (Great Mosque), Yeşil Cami (Green Mosque) and Koza Han (Cocoon Inn). After such a great and full program in Bursa and a barbeque party at Mount Olympos Mysios, we will take you to the Turkish Bath or hamam as it is called here. It will help you relax and get rid of all your nervous energies. This is definitely a must – and Bursa is really famous for its traditional baths because the place is rich in mineral waters.

Devil's Table sunset
Sunset at Devil’s Table

Golden Times: What will be the highlights in Ayvalık?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Our highlights in this city are hiking around Devil’s Table and relaxing on Mount Ida. Devil’s Table is a place you must see before you die. The hill and old lava heaps look like a round table. The landscape looks amazing especially at sunset. Mount Ida has the second greatest oxygen reserve in the world, after Alps. Some people claim that here are the most scenic views in Anatolia. Also, according to legend, here the gods charmed, seduced, tricked, married and betrayed one another. By the way, Ayvalık is also well-known for its breathtaking beaches.

Golden Times: What will be the highlights in Kuşadası?
Ali Can & Ceyda: The aqua park in Kuşadası is one of the best ten of the world! There is a wide range of excellent facilities and water rides for a full day of fun. Kusadasi is also a very good place for scuba diving. There are going to be warm-up exercises, where you can dive into the sea, accompanied by a teacher. There you can explore the mysterious world under water…

boat tour in kusadasi
Boat tour in Kusadasi

Golden Times: What will be the highlights in Ephesus?
Ali Can & Ceyda: In this region countless events of mythology took place. At almost every turn you will encounter theaters, temples and agoras of ancient cities. Ephesus is the best preserved classical city on the Mediterranean and perhaps the best place in the world to get the feeling for what life was like in Roman times. It is known as a strategic coastal gateway to the Western World and grew to be the second largest city. The great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Also we have chance to visit The House of the Virgin Mary, a Catholic and Muslim shrine located on Mount Koressos in the vicinity of Ephesus. It is one of the important pilgrimage places for both Catholics and Muslims.

Golden Times: How many days will the group stay in Eskişehir, how many days in the other places?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Our SU will begin in Eskişehir. Following five days in Eskişehir, we will spend two days in Bursa and four days in Ayvalık. We are then going to Kuşadası for five days – while staying there, we will have a day trip to Ephesus and Şirince.

The aqua park in Kuşadası

Golden Times: Will the participants also have the chance to spend some time at the seaside?
Ali Can & Ceyda: If people look up Eskişehir on the map they may be disappointed at first, since it is not at the sea. However, it is impossible to prevent the participants from spending some time at the seaside since the perfect weather meets the perfect water on the shore of the Aegean Sea. For instance, Ayvalık and Kuşadası are very famous for their beaches. We will spend nine days in those areas, and our lucky participants will get sea, sun and sand – with a boat tour, scuba diving and swimming.

Golden Times: Are there other activities you would like to mention? I read something about belly-dancing workshops, a Turkish music workshop, a legends workshops and an oil wrestling tournament?
Ali Can & Ceyda: We are glad you ask this question, because we also thought that they all are very attractive activities. Oil wrestling is the Turkish national sport. It is called like this because the wrestlers douse themselves with olive oil. So there will be a small workshop about basic movement and history of it. Then there will be an Oil Wrestling Tournament. We will all wear swimsuits, douse ourselves with olive oil and fight! You should not worry about injuries. It is all safe and we will do it under expert supervision. A big surprise is awaiting our champion.

Golden Times: What about belly-dancing?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Belly dancing is natural to a woman’s bone and muscle structure with movements emanating from the torso rather than in the legs and feet. The dance often focuses upon isolating different parts of the body, moving them independently in sensuous patterns, weaving together the entire feminine form. We are sure that this breathtaking dancing course will amaze our participants.

One of many beautiful spots at the SU

Golden Times: Can you tell a few words about AEGEE-Eskişehir?
Ali Can & Ceyda: AEGEE-Eskişehir was founded in 2001, and it has experienced lots of great moments. For instance, It was the host local of the Autumn Agora 2007. After that time, it started to focus on more thematic projects, for example the Disabled People Project, Cultural Variations Project, E-Magazine Project and so on… AEGEE-Eskişehir has five working groups, which are the Active Citizenship WG, Nature Sports and Environmental WG, Cultural Interaction WG, International Politics WG, Cinema and Photography WG, and a Summer University Project. In December AEGEE-Eskişehir organised the Regional Training Course for Turkish Speaking locals and hosted more than 60 people. After this it became the Local of the Month in January! By the way, our Summer University was ranked fourth place of 81 SUs last year.

Golden Times: At the EBM in Valletta you got a lot of attention for you empathy workshop. What was that about?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Our annual project “Empathy Days” is one of our biggest occupation. We are going to organize it for the fourth time this year. The goal is to create awareness about disabled people’s life in society. Moreover we try to encourage people to be volunteer in NGOs which are creating solutions for disabled people’s life. We organised our Empathy Days Project at the EBM Valletta, we really suggest you to watch the video: To sum up, AEGEE-Eskişehir has been very active since its founding and will continue to produce new projects with its energetic, creative and active members.

Golden Times: How is the atmosphere in your Summer University organizing team?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Apart from being an organizing team, we are all friends who get together to organize the best SU. We are all aware of our responsibility and give our best for our goal. Most of the things we need to do are completed, but yet we have negotiations for sponsorships. I can’t help saying thank you all to our supportive friends!

Golden Times: Will you try out programme elements together before the participants arrive?
Ali Can & Ceyda: Yes. We will visit every stop and try out our exciting activities before the event.

eskisehir coordination team
The SU coordination team is waiting for you!

Golden Times: How much is the participation fee?
Ali Can & Ceyda: The participation fee is 190 Euro for 15 amazing days, and the optional fee is 40 Euro, which will be used for scuba diving and a boat tour.

Golden Times: What else should potential participants know about the event?
Ali Can & Ceyda: In Turkey each region has different traditions, their own arts, music and folklore, and even their eating habits are totally unique to the region. Our participants will have the chance to experience three different regions. We offer them a truly natural and cultural paradise. They should get ready for this unforgettable event with days full of breathtaking natural beauties, unique historical and archaeological places, workshops and lively nights – full of AEGEE spirit. We will get you to live an experience that you will never forget and we will also leave you a gallery filled with all those experiences. Come here and find yourself in the sacred gardens of Anatolia!


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