Unite, Act and Advocate
Turkish Canadian Youth Congress…
Unite, Act and Advocate
Whether born in Turkey or elsewhere, “Youth is the future”. This empowering truism, as we heard from presenters like Mr. Bruce Fein and Dr. Sema Kenan, set the theme of this year’s Turkish Canadian Youth Congress (TCYC).
Prior to the conference, I had certain expectations of the workshops and discussions, but I did not anticipate the synergy that was created by the entire group consisting of delegates, presenters, organizers, and volunteers. It was inspirational and encouraging to experience the passion and cando attitude among many of the attendees in this year’s congress. 2012 might be remembered as the year when we collectively began a youth movement focusing on promoting Turkish culture in Canada, perhaps even in North America.
Two years ago, I had been to the Montréal congress, which was a wonderful experience as well. I met new people and learned about issues relating to Turkish geopolitics. There, I become aware of the fact that we are not just a handful of isolated Turks living in Canada. This year in Ottawa, I felt a sense of connection, motivation and inspiration. The frigid Ottawa temperatures may have been a catalyst in this development as the cold weather kept us indoors, encouraged us to participate in all the sessions and be attentive in unison. Through our commitment to the workshops, we were able to learn, integrate new concepts and connect with everyone else. The cold was a bonus factor, but my intention is not to give the weather all the credit. This year, something clicked in our heads and hearts; the ingredients were right. We recognized that the TCYC is not simply a three-day social gathering, but an important event designed to bring us together with the right intentions so that we can form stronger bonds, build on them, create meaningful collaborative projects, and ultimately help our community and educate “others” about Turkey. The interaction among the youth delegates, organizers and presenters, who shared with us their views, research findings and enthusiasm, were truly empowering.
Our motivation hit a high note, thanks to the encouragement of our youth mentors, Beril Unver and Yenal Küçüker. We were pumped after their uplifting speeches, where they recognized us, encouraged us to speak up, and brainstorm together. We realized that we got the message and we felt that we were all on the same page. By sharing ideas, collaborating, and coming together we can accomplish a lot more than simply sitting back and listening passively.
It was this sort of mental stimulation and interaction that we all experienced, even during our meal breaks. Some of the keynote speakers would come up to us and drill us on what we have taken away from the conference so far. This in return, helped us understand the true purpose of this gathering: the TCYC exists in order to create and strengthen our community of youth. This active engagement made us feel included – we were not just by-standers. TCYC 2012 introduced us to a great group of participants and attendees – two main ingredients to success. Without good leaders, the message is lost on the participants; we were ripe to receive and integrate the gentle nudging that we were so generously provided. I think that we got the message thanks to the content and its delivery. There were clear explanations of terminology and methodology, provision of concrete examples and plenty of group interaction. Connections were made, bonds were formed and the delegates from all across Canada are continuing the dialogue. This year’s congress and the foundation laid by the previous four, inspired us to set up a TCYC page on Facebook. Further-more, we have research groups that are forming to produce articles on issues concerning Turkey, new projects are being initiated and will soon be launched in media such as TV, film, websites and the like. We are the generation to watch, as we hold the torch in our hands and carry it onward.
I would like to express my gratitude to the TCYC and its organizers – Banu Pamukcu, our ambassador, His Excellency Rafet Akgünay, the Turkish Embassy of Canada, and the CTC – for empowering Turkish youth and allowing us to be active participants in Canada.
by Jeyda Elsasser / Bizim Anadolu / Feb-Mar 2012