Report from a visit to YüCEL Cultural Foundation, Istanbul, Turkey

Автор: Таня Волохова

Continue to monitor what happens with the members of our YMCA, and what they say (here — from YMCA Europe). Today our hero is Johan Vilhelm Eltvik — Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs, who — we recall — is a member of the YMCA Belarus (YMCA Vitebsk).

Продолжаем отслеживать, что происходит с членами нашей УМСА,  и о чём они говорят. Сегодня наш герой — Johan Vilhelm Eltvik — Генеральный Секретарь Мирового Альянса YMCA, который — напомним — является членом YMCA Belarus (Витебского отделения ОО «ХСВМ»).

From January 6-11, 2010, Michal Szymanczak and I visited Yücel Cultural Foundation in Istanbul, Turkey representing YMCA Europe. The first meeting between YMCA Europe and Yücel Cultural Foundation (YCF) took place in Prague August 17-18, 2009.

From the very beginning of our relationship the conversations were friendly, open and honest, and we felt a strong spirit of the YMCA in both meetings.

At this meeting in January of 2010 we met with Haluk Kula, the Secretary General of YCF and Jim Clayter, a former Fraternal Secretary from the YMCA of the USA who is working for three months together with YCF located in Istanbul.

During our days in Istanbul we were exposed to different elements of Turkish society, culture and religion, and we had long conversations around the realities of the Turkish society and culture and through this we could win a deeper understanding of the environment for youth work in Turkey today. We also discussed the history of YCF and especially the collaboration with YMCA of the USA and the involvement of different Fraternal Secretaries from the USA. We explained that YMCA Europe had worked very closely with the YMCA of the USA for more than twenty years in developing or reopening national YMCA movements in Eastern Europe and that we would welcome a further cooperation and collaboration with YMCA of the USA in assisting in developing YMCA in Turkey.

We were taken around the impressive building belonging to YCF, located just opposite Hagya Sofia. This is a very valuable property and the ground floor/basement is already renovated and give some income. There are extensive plans for the further renovation of the building and we discussed different perspectives for the utilization of the building for YMCA programmes.

We were also oriented about the campsite belonging to YCF, located in a different part of Turkey. There are needs for renovation of this property as well, and some legal issues related to the use of the land have to be clarified. Haluk is in the process of handling these issues with the appropriate authorities.

We were taken to the offices of YCF where we had a meting discussing future perspectives of the relationship between YCF and YMCA Europe. The key elements of this conversation were:

  • Information about YCF and the use of the building and the camp and plans for renovation.
  • Information about the structure and programmes of YMCA Europe. .
  • There is an interest from YCF to be a cooperating movement with YMCA Europe and obtain status as associate member of YMCA Europe. This will not be legally binding for any parts, there will be no membership fee, but it will open up for all kinds of cooperation, sharing of information and participation in all events on both sides, according to needs and interest. We informed about formal criteria for full membership in YMCA Europe as well as World Alliance of YMCAs where for instance the Paris Basis has to be included in the Constitution. We agreed that discussions on full membership needs to come at a later stage when more programmes have been developed and the organisation will be able to fulfil all requirements needed for such status. The Executive Committee of YMCA Europe at its next meeting in March 2010 will decide if to offer YCF the status as cooperating movement with associate membership in YMCA Europe, and the decision will be communicated to YCF immediately after that meeting. .
  • Information about the development approaches of YMCA Europe and especially the use of so called Field Groups, a cluster of National YMCA Movements going together to work with one developing National Movement. YCF expressed an interest in investigating and considering establishment of such a Field Group for Turkey in due time. This perspective needs to be further developed between YCF and YMCA Europe. .
  • Information about the upcoming General Assembly of YMCA Europe and the annual meeting of the National General Secretaries in Litomysl, Czech Republic, May 11-16, 2010. The importance of one or two representatives from Turkey participating in this meeting was underlined, as well as the importance for Haluk Kula to join the meeting of the National General Secretaries at the same time. .
  • Different programme ideas were shared, among them the cooperation with ICCP in USA already being developed to further develop youth exchange programmes. From YMCA Europe programme information was shared as well. In 2011 a Black Sea YMCA Youth Festival is being planned, and we agreed that we should work for inclusion of at least 10 youth from YCF in this event. .
  • From YCF an invitation was extended to YMCA Europe and other YMCAs to plan for events and meetings in Turkey, using the facilities and help of TCF. .
  • Use of the logo of YCF. We informed about the ongoing process in the world movement to seek for a more unified approach to logos and other presentation material. Apart from that, we expressed that this is an interesting logo which can be used, combining the typical Y from North America with a Turkish flag and the symbol of EU to symbolise unity in Europe. We recommended using a strap line to demonstrate the belonging to the wider international YMCA family, if possible. .
  • At the first meeting between YCF and YMCA Europe it was explained that YMCA Europe has no financial resources to offer, but that we in the future can work together to seek support from institutions and donors of different kinds.

After this meeting where Haluk, Jim, Michal and myself participated, we were introduced to the whole Board of YCF. We were invited to share messages with the Board and both sides concluded that we were very encouraged by these positive developments in our relationship and expressed hopes for an exciting future for the partnership between YCF and YMCA Europe.

Author/Source: Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, YMCA Europe, posted by 20th January 2010

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