AFS Turkey takes first steps as a Changemaker

Take a breath and imagine a community that embraces intercultural learning and wants to make a positive impact in the world. A community that values respect for differences, using the most powerful tool of giving people a chance to live the intercultural experience themselves and thus, create a change in their lives. As AFS Turkey, we touch hundreds of people’s lives every year. All the AFS participants push their limits by trying to integrate into a different culture and start making a change for themselves individually. But are they aware of the social impact that they can create with the competences they gain?

In order to create a greater and more sustainable impact we partnered up with Ashoka, the world’s biggest platform for social entrepreneurs. Ashoka Youth Venture wants to introduce Changemaker skills – empathy, teamwork, leadership and problem-solving – into the basic education of every child. In this respect AFS looks set to become an important partner: Already 13 countries have successfully embraced Changemaking in cooperation with Ashoka Youth Venture. Turkey was already in touch with Ashoka since 2013, but was not able to integrate the approach into their training and volunteer development processes. From November 4th to 7th 2015, it was time for AFS Turkey to get ready.

In an intensive workshop session in İstanbul’s beautiful Sultanahmet district, fifteen motivated volunteers, staff members, teachers and host mothers talked about how to integrate this new approach into our organization. Our aim is to provide every individual in the AFS network with the necessary tools to create a change, motivating them to really implement their ideas which might make our world a better place. Experienced AFSers can be sources of inspiration for participants, volunteers, staff and host families and guide them in their Changemaking experiences – A process that requires not only a sophisticated, rational action plan but also emotional strength, passion and courage to reach one’s goals.

For us, Changemaking is not just a nice concept, but a mindset. What starts as a small spark will soon turn into flames, spreading quickly and setting the hearts of many other dedicated youths on fire. As such, adopting Change Making is an important step that we should take in this troubled times in order to make our world a more peaceful place.

It’s time for #afseffect! It’s time for Changemaking!

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Metehan Ertürk spent an AFS year in Bosnia in 2013-2014. He is currently at the board of AFS Volunteers Association in Istanbul, Turkey and an active member of AFS Turkey Pool of Trainers.