Volunteering for the Interreg ADRION Programme: It’s worth the journey!
Travelling the world by staying home. Discovering new cultures by interviewing people, interacting with new colleagues and looking at reasons behind traditions and cultural habits. That’s what Interreg partly teaches you: seeing the world with different eyes.
Here is the story of Emin when stayed at our Programme (unfortunately remotly due to COVID), to hold a six months volunteeering experience. Read it through, we believe ADRION was worth the “journey”.
This is Emin, from Turkey. I had the opportunity to get involved in the European territorial cooperation as Interreg Reporter of the ADRION Programme in between November 2021 and May 2022. The office is based in Bologna (Italy) but due to the outbreak, unfortunately I worked remotely. I live in Denizli, a city located in the inner Aegean region. The city center itself doesn’t attract tourists, but the famous UNESCO site Pamukkale located within the borders of Denizli.
The Turkish town of Pamukkale is known for its thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces.
I remember as a kid, I went there for the first time. I saw tourists from different countries who were speaking in their own languages. It was a shocking thing for me as a kid. People were saying something that didn’t make any sense to me. That was a magic moment, because I promised myself to learn a foreign language, understand what these people say, express myself, and discover the countries where they all came from to unlock what I didn’t know.
Every step I took in my life so far, including my IVY experience at Interreg ADRION Programme, stretches back to this breaking point.
I graduated with a BA degree in Communication Design and Management in 2017. Now, I have almost concluded my Master’s studies by focusing on what makes a city healthier in every aspect. I previously stayed in Germany and Estonia for internships, Slovenia for Erasmus student exchange, Poland for European Solidarity Corps voluntary program, I worked for the oldest NGO of Turkey and now I am seeking for a new experience.
An ideal working environment for me is a place where I have colleagues from different backgrounds and I organize, follow up projects and activities in favor of an area, region, country, continent. Despite working remotely, this is what I had at ADRION. I remember in my first day, people gathered to welcome me and there was one colleague whose name is Valentina (there are a few Valentinas at ADRION) greeted me in Turkish as she knew basics from her Erasmus experience in Istanbul. That was lovely.
I love this feeling of creating a link from one culture to another, cooperating with people beyond borders to remove borders.
Adriatic-Ionian countries, on the other hand, have a special position in my heart because in the family tree of my father side, there are movements from Albania, Greece, North Macedonia and eventually ending up in Turkey.
Besides, I did my Erasmus study exchange for two semesters in the Adriatic coastal town of Portoroz, Slovenia.
The town of Piran, Slovenia
I traveled in Italy often and worked with Italians before… All these details made this experience more meaningful.
Cooperation between EU and non-EU countries in the Adriatic-Ionian region (and elsewhere) is crucial for regional development. I believe Interreg projects are standing on an important position for the success of this mission. International cooperation is not the easiest thing for sure, but there is one simple fact, that is “together we are stronger” and we can tackle social and economic issues by joint approaches.
How did I contribute to the Interreg ADRION Programme?
My main responsibilities were contributing to the digital visibility of the Program by reporting projects and supporting my mentor Giulia. Why is project dissemination so important? Because it shows movement. It shows that there is an action, a joint action to tackle issues that need to be solved. Learning about such activities and projects empower people to tackle different issues, I believe.
Emin Yiğit Koyuncuoğlu
Emin worked at Interreg ADRION for six months thanks to “Interreg Volunteer Youth” (IVY), which allows young people aged 18-30 to serve as volunteers in cross-border, transnational or interregional programmes and related projects.