Ayşe Civelek, Istanbul

We were there with all our differences: Religion, nationality, language… such a great scene, a harmony like a big garden including every kind of flowers.

I have experienced an unforgettable week with our dear German friends – or let’s say our new family. It was my first trip to Europe and I was so afraid of staying with a foreigner. Thus, I was so excited until meeting with my great host and buddy Johanna Ulherr. She was a great person and led me to question that what is the meaning of ‘the foreigner’.

On Saturday, I was fasting through the day and in the evening, I was so tired and missed the Iftar (breaking the fast) hour while sleeping but she immediately came and woke me up and said, “be quick Ayşe you missed the Iftar time”. Later, she cooked me delicious Spaghetti with amazing sauces, I will never forget her respectful and nice behaviour to me and the taste of that yummy meal.

The next days, I met all my other IstKon family members – all of them were great and nice people. We have even made an Iftar together that was also my one of the most memorable moment about IstKon. I have lived lots of things as the first experience through this project. In the cultural night, both sides cooked their traditional foods and ate together as a big family around a table. I watched them, there was every kind of person, and I just thought: “Where is ‘the border’? What is ‘the prejudice’? What is ‘the other’?” – We were there with all our differences: Religion, nationality, language… such a great scene, a harmony like a big garden including every kind of flowers. That scene also reminded me of something which I have almost forgotten: “Hope”. Hope for future… Hope for humanity…

My dear friends: Right now, all of you have a home in Turkey and as Rumi said: “Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder”. Istanbul is waiting for you!