Tandem Grant Tool: Exchange visit to Istanbul

          A world of peace, love and tolerance…

10325687_10204049602781401_3696265383593484297_nIt was really unbelievable and incredibly real. All of us totally changed and were strangely fit to the evening. A mysterious dinner in an open vast terrace with the scene of the Aya Sofia rising as the evidence of the old history out of the painting on the wall facing the table. The feeling of being the guest at the sultan’s palace and being served at best. The poorly lit minarets against the grey night sky, the slight sea breeze blowing the thoughts far away. People from different ages and different stories having fun together. Cut off from the reality, enjoying the bitter taste of the dry red wine. Never has anyone witnessed such a blend of epochs.

The old abandoned building suddenly became full of life and laughter. Nice music playing mildly and characters bringing in the atmosphere of the Venice masquerade. A fully different world in a lively crowded modern city. A world of peace, love and tolerance. I wish this night never ended…

Haykuhi KARAPETYAN, Armenia, 33

Istanbul has many faces…

Until this week we only saw the Muslim and Turkish part. Actually as an encyclopedic knowledge we know that a lot of people who lives in Istanbul have different  nationalities and religions. However when our Armenian friends came, we understood that  there is a big differences between what we knew and heard so Until this time we just heard these things that are not originally true .

15472000790_3b752897be_oNow day by day each side really starts to “know” each other and it isn’t taking a long time. Speaking with them is like looking into the mirror because we have almost the same culture, same foods and same songs. On the one hand I am really happy for the similarities, on the other hand it makes me sad because of  how we became estranged. But we took one step thanks to  Peace Work Institute and I am sure we will start to run in a short time.

Musa Enes USLU, Turkey, 21

Hope for future.

We’re all raised in different parts of the world, we learned different things, we saw different things but we breathed the same air and counted the same stars. When we strip of all the labels like nationality, gender or language we are just mere humans. Actually the term “mere humans” is not exactly the right thing to say because even if we look small and weak, we matter and I believe we can change things.

IMG_9940 (Large)This week with our project I saw this to be true. Besides just having fun and sightseeing, I believe we started building up something bigger and sustainable. And Istanbul is the perfect place for that. It is the crossroad of the world ,it is a huge mosaic of cultures mixed together with harmony. In this week we experienced the Armenian part of that mosaic with songs and places where Armenians lived and continued their cultures for generations. And same goes with Turkish part of that mosaic. We even used one of the most crowded public transportation to live the full Istanbul experience.

And after all these things what matters the most is to go back to our homes with beautiful memories and hope for the future.

Nisa GILIT, Turkey, 20

My first meeting with Istanbul.

Istanbul….from the first steps you discover the beauty of this city. It is a unique place of cultural crossroads where people having different cultural religious belongings live side by side share and learn from each other. This is a place where language is of no importance any more. It is the meeting point of luxury and poverty meet.

DSC_0025-2The days spent in Istanbul were magnificent. What comes to my mind when I say Istanbul? Colours, ezan, mosques and amazing constructions, covered ladies, narrow streets, the calling voice of the trams, endless plains in the sky, people having different nationalities, pomegranate juice, ice-cream, sahlep, bazaars and bargainings, tasty food, the ritual of kissing twice and the most important people who welcomed us and showed the real Istanbul which I will take with me.

When being asked about Istanbul I would only say you should go and see yourself….

Anna HARUTYUNYAN, Armenia, 23


Full photo gallery available here.

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