The Grand Opening

Day 4 / Academic Day 1 (9. 04. 2018)

by Nora Salman

What happened on Day 4 after a weekend of arriving, getting first impressions and officially realising your presence in Istanbul? The participants were driven to a dreamful location in which the Grand Opening Ceremony took place, after putting on their finest occasion wear. The destination: The Seed. Surrounded by high-growing palms and the Marmara Sea in eyesight, the mansion offered an atmosphere, which was perfect for a day of hard work.

-Speeches-

The start was at 10 am. Nursena and Zeynep, both members of the Core Team,  presented the goals and principles of IstKon 2018, that include building bridges between two different cultures and creating a better world through tolerance.

The two were followed by Prof. Dr. Erhan Doğan, who said in his speech that he believes in IstKon as a great opportunity to observe the own country´s  status quo: Turkey is still passing difficult times, while Germany struggled creating a functioning government. And both are still cultivating a difficult relationship towards each other. Hereupon, he is of the opinion that IstKon is a piece of hard work and a true achievement in approaching this problem.

Erik Schmidt, academic assistant of the University Constance, who have seen a lot of exchange programs in the last years, marked this one as the most special one due to a deeply rooted German-Turkish-relation, which got sadly interrupted within two years.  „The ice is melting“ and through this cooperation we can at least attenuate this process.

Lastly, the Core Team Heads took over the stage and presented their view on the project:

Ayşe described the project as emphasizing diversity, embracing cultural differences and lifting prejudices by getting to know each other. All in all, „we are one big family“, despite of a lot of obstacles during the planning phase too, which took wholesome 6 months. The biggest problem was the accomodation, which could be solved by the generous sponsorship of Sabanci Holding and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Markus, creator and the proclaimed „Godfather of Istkon“ emphasized, that every individual of those over 150 involved people counts. This project depends on their efforts and investment of their time, so there should be no room for self-doubt.

After those speeches, videos showed the preparations for this year´s IstKon and a emotional sequence titled as „We are a big family“.

-Debates-

After the lunch break, it was time for the debates. Beforehand, the speakers provided general information in through separate presentations: Mehmet Tevfik Eren gave an economic outlook on Turkey, Doç.Dr. Emre Erşen covered Foreign Policy and Doç.Dr.Erhan Doĝan spoke about the relations between Turkey and the European Union. These presentations were followed by several questions by the participants.

Then, the participants were divided into groups for a workshop. Each group, representing either Germany or Turkey, worked on a certain case – for example Germany sending asylum seekers back to Turkey –  while applying a specific political science theory such as the liberal point of view. Afterwards, the results were presented in the context of a heated debate.

All in all, the day offered a lot of academic content and different perspectives, from which the participants could benefit in an intellectually stimulating way.

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