The 2011 tour to Turkey demonstrates the international reach of the ESU and its work which, like the city of Istanbul itself, spans continents. John Gallagher and John Ashbourne spent a week conducting training sessions at schools across the city, and took part in the Spectrum of Education Conference which brings together students and educators from 15 countries. John Ashbourne, the team leader's report, below, gives an excellent insight into the relevance and importance of the ESU's 'Discover Your Voice' programme, more information about which can be found here."From the moment John G. and I arrived in Turkey we were treated to the amazing hospitality for which Turkey is rightfully famous. Our trip was made incredibly easy and endlessly entertaining by the lovely Berna Kolchak, Coordinator of ESU Turkey who effortlessly guided us through Istanbul’s labyrinthine traffic and was always quick to offer a joke, anecdote, or suggestion to brighten up our traffic jam. While both of us had been to Turkey before, we both had an amazing time being shown ‘the queen of cities’ by a team of dedicated locals.
Like any ESU delegation, however, the high point for us was meeting the students we would be working at. The first school we visited was Darüşşafaka High School, a truly unique institution. Founded in the 19th century, the school is run for students without fathers and is paid for entirely through donations. There were students from across Turkey in the classes we taught, including some from the Eastern provinces recently hit by the tragic earthquake. We found the children at Darüşşafaka to be some of the most dedicated and enthusiastic students we would meet in Turkey.
We also ran events at several other schools, including a seminar attended by students from a half dozen schools. Everywhere we went, the eagerness and talent of the Turkish students was incredible. As Anglophones, we also found their English ability very impressive.
Later in the trip John and I ran an evening programme for members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce International (JCI) in Istanbul. The JCI members were an entertaining group who almost won the JCI public speaking world championships in 2010. With respect to their opponents, we can’t see who could have bested the incredibly talented speakers we met that evening in Istanbul. After a few spirited debates on the merits of – among other things – women drivers, we were impressed that the next generation of Turkish business leaders also have the skills to be pretty fierce stand-up comedians.
On the last day of the tour, John and I attended the Spectrum of Education Conference, which brought together educators and students from 15 different countries. The event brought teachers and students together to learn from each other and develop lasting friendships
This second ESU delegation to Turkey gave John and I the opportunity to work with an amazing group of students who consistently exceeded our expectations and showed an amazing ability to develop their already impressive communication skills. The entire ESU Turkey committee was welcoming and very helpful and we both had an amazing time visiting what has to be one of the most beautiful cities in both Europe and Asia."