Last sunny Saturday afternoon 16 attendees went to the Istanbul&I office for a painting workshop. While our art workshops usually involve children, a new Istanbul&I painting workshop program invites adults to get creative and make friends in the process. Attendees are paired someone from a different culture and spend the next hour painting their portrait, all the while laughing, sharing stories, and learning words in the other’s languages.
The project is one of many projects that are run by Refugee Support Centre (MUDEM) , Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers (ASAM), and funded by the German International Cooperation (GIZ). The project, ‘Together We Stand’, aims to build capacity for social cohesion, cooperation and solidarity between Syrian and Turkish communities through volunteering with a community-driven development approach.
BuRouj, the project manager for ‘Together We Stand’ at Istanbul&i, attended the training program held by MUDEM, ASAM, and GIZ in Istanbul in March 2018. She learned how to start a volunteer project and received intercultural communication training. Since BuRouj loves painting and finds it an excellent way to express herself, she wanted to start a project that helps people communicate through art, where having a common language is not a must. She continued that ‘it’s so important to see beyond our facial expressions, to feel what others feel inside where language is not really important’.
Attendees really loved the workshop as a way to connect with new people while trying out a skill that most people don’t do in their daily lives. For one attendee, Ayça, it was a reminder of how much she missed painting and found that meeting someone new was the perfect way to get back into an old hobby.
While the original project aims to improve cross cultural understanding for Syrian and Turkish attendees, Istanbul&I’s workshops are open to people of all nationalities. The next workshops will be on Saturdays May 12th, May 26, and June 9, 2018. If you are interested in attending, please register here.