Traveling and learning new languages has always been important to me because I want to be connected to the world and know more about other cultures through the eyes of locals. I started learning English when I was in the 4th grade and I never thought that it would help me the way it actually did. Thanks to my English skills, I was able to join different NGOs in my country and help my community.
Knowing the importance of Education and Languages, I decided to volunteer as an English Teacher this summer through AIESEC in Istanbul, Turkey.
My English language skills have helped me win the full scholarship through the YES Program which has been the best experience I have had so far in my life, and I wish that as many young people have this great opportunity in the future. That’s why my choice was Teaching English to kids in the Elementary School.
AIESEC is a United Nations a program that helps in finding Global Volunteering Opportunities. Some of their long-term goals are: Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Quality Education, Gender Equality, etc. which are expected to be met by 2030.
I chose to volunteer in Turkey because I love the culture and considering the countries’ vastness and geographical position, I am aware of its lack of accessibility to learning English. I was also very keen on experiencing the picturesque Istanbul which turned out to be even more magnificent then I have ever imagined, with the sea, the albatrosses and the historical monuments every step on the way.
The project that I volunteered in was called ‘Magic Steps’ and it was organized by Burak Sahin, Melike Guler, and Eren Karaosmanoglu. There were 15 other volunteers from all around the world. We paired in groups of two, my partner (Marina Oleksuik, from Ukraine) and I taught English to 6th-grade students.
My volunteering experience was for 6 weeks and it was amazing to see the progress of the students throughout the weeks. We taught basic English such as the alphabet, numbers, colors, vegetables, fruits, clothes, etc. I was focused on making the lessons really fun for the kids through games and songs which they enjoyed and which helped them learn easier. This way, I believe they will think that learning new languages can be fun, too.
During these weeks, I feel like I have learned as much as I have taught. I lived with a host family which helped me a lot with learning the Turkish language, culture, and history. So far it has been the best volunteering experience I have ever done and I would highly recommend it to everyone.
by Visar Zeka, YES 2015, Prosper, TX