In Summer 2012 I came to Istanbul as an Erasmus student. From the beginning I was living on the outskirts of Tarlabaşı, which had attracted me because of its lively atmosphere: It sounds a bit strange, but whenever I come there, it still feels like “people are really living there”. It's colourful and a lot of things happen on the narrow streets.
As the semester was passing, I felt that I wanted to extend my stay in Istanbul, I really liked being there and had also found a wonderful woman (which I will marry now :D) with whom I wanted to stay together. I really like children and I study Special Needs Education at university in Germany, so I was looking for a nice institution, a friendly and warm space for children where I could maybe join as a volunteer. A friend of mine, who had been living in Tarlabaşı for a long time, then forwarded me to the Tarlabaşı Toplum Merkezi. From the very beginning my heart was enchanted by the warmness of the house, the staff and the children. I met with Nurgül, and to my joy I was then invited to do an internship there (I stayed for a total of 5 months).
There are a lot of activities, workshops and groups taking place at TTM, which I was free to join in to and have a look at everything. Whenever I had a question, I could ask Nurgül or the others to receive friendly help. As time passed, it emerged that I mostly participated in the “Rhythm/Darbuka Group”, the “English Group”, sometimes the “Art Group” and also tried to help the children doing their homework. In the beginning, it was sometimes not very easy to communicate everything that I wanted in Turkish, and I can be a bit shy sometimes as well, but the children were very sweet and helped me, and now my Turkish is fine :) As a future teacher it was also very interesting and a great experience to take the perspective of the one person who doesn't speak the language of the rest of the group very well, as it happens to many migrant children all over the world.
Later, I also created a new group together with Onur, the percussion teacher at TTM, which we called “Mutfak Sambası” (Kitchen Samba). Together with the children, we gradually created a Samba-inspired music piece with the instruments consisting of kitchen stuff such as wooden spoons, plastic waste bins and glasses filled with bottle caps (shaker), which was great fun! In my last week at TTM, we displayed it with the children at a small festival at TTM to the parents and inhabitants of Tarlabaşı.
I really had a wonderful time at TTM and I want to say thank you again to the whole staff and also very much to the children. I always left the place smiling, even when I came there in a sad mood :)