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Falinge Park High School

Opening Doors; Unlocking Potential

Merhaba people, (that’s how you say hello in Turkish) it’s Nasrin here. It’s now Day 3 of our trip and I have so much to share with you all.

Firstly we had breakfast early, and again they were serving chips! No prizes for guessing who loaded up on those at breakfast (ahem, Mr Ahmed). After breakfast we met as a group to decide how we wanted to present our school for the Organisation Fair. We sat and planned a presentation, assigned roles and even chose to use our promo video. Everything seemed great…until we got to the meeting room.

Mehmet, our leader, decided to wake us up further by getting us to line up in parallel rows and dance. The catch was, we had to mirror our partner. At first I felt a little silly and shy to be dancing in front of people I didn’t know well, but once I saw that everyone was getting into it, I felt more confident and when I saw that no one was really judging me. We all looked ridiculous!

We were then given a notice that we had 20 mins to produce a presentation about how dance in our country had evolved. Oh no! We thought we had planned the wrong presentation and suddenly there was a panic to create a whole new slideshow. It was very hectic and we were not really sure what to do but once again we pulled together as a team and put together a show. Our presentation involved Halima and Muskaan performing a TikTok dance (they seriously can’t get enough of this) and myself and Shannon ending our show by performing the cup song.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t our finest work and we were not very organised as we panicked and thought we had prepared the wrong show. And before the presentation began, I felt  extremely nervous: my body was warming up, my hands and legs were shaking and my palms were sweaty. The thought of public speaking had shot my anxiety levels through the roof. At one point I even had to go to the bathroom, where Miss Malik reassured me that I had nothing to worry about because I would never see these people again. I realised that I just had to get on with it and once I got started my confidence grew.

Performing the cup song with Shannon was by far the highlight for me as everyone in the room took out their phones to record us and as the music progressed I started singing along, which encouraged the rest of the group to do the same. I felt SO relieved by the end of this first presentation and despite the technical difficulties, we were happy with the final product.

To break up the session, we did another ‘get to know you’ game and I genuinely learnt more names learnt more of the group’s names like Daniel, David, Ana Calvin, Thomas and Alexandra. It was then that we were told that we had to prepare a presentation for the Organisation Fair. What a facepalm moment- we had deleted our original work thinking we had done the wrong thing and now we needed it fast. But thanks to the technical wizardry of Mr Ahmed, we were quickly able to recover the slides. I felt so much more confident this time because I had already spoken to the group. What was really interesting was after we showed them our school’s promo video, Lucy from Lithuania asked if our school was a private school because of all the extra curricular activities we offered our students. She was so surprised when we told her our education was completely free. I even got the team to finish our presentation in synch by repeating our school slogan ‘opening doors; unlocking potential.’ This was an exceptionally proud moment for me.

We were then given a break where we decided to play handball. And dear oh dear, things became so competitive between Antonio and Myself and Miss Malik.  Antonio was very cocky toward us but our team won the first round. What was nice was that we invited Thomas and Eveline from Latvia to play with us, which encouraged two other Turkish girls to join us too. It was so fun that we agreed to play after dinner too.

Lunch was soon served and they had rice with chickpeas, which I had not had before and a stew with meat and veggies. Mehmet was patrolling our restaurant at dinner and forced us to sit with people we didn’t know. Myself and Muskaan ended up sitting with some really nice German girls which was awkward at first but they soon warmed up to us.

Having digested lunch and changed into my walking gear, we met up with the whole group to prepare to set up for the hike. The hike itself was through the woods that overlook the hotel and it was like a more extreme version of Healey Dell. Mehmet gave us the option of the long or short version and we chose the long version (totally against our own will of course) but I loved it, despite it  being so tiring. I got to know the German group really well and they told me that they thought our UK team was so shy. I had to explain to them that because we are the youngest participants, we didn’t really know how to fit in and approach the older members. They said they understood how we must be feeling and said they would try to include us more often which I thought was so nice of them.  I also got to know Islam, from Egypt and some people from Lithuania, who I shared some gum with. Talking with all these people on our hike made me understand something important; we all have different lifestyles and backgrounds but we all have the ability to share things in common and we can get on really well with others if we make some effort.

The hike itself was very tiring and challenging as the long route  had parts that were parts dangerous and difficult. There were even a few angry dogs who followed us on the whole trip. However there were also some lovely moments, such as when Saba gave her water to a thirsty and limp looking dog. He was happy and grateful and she kept stroking him to make him feel calmer. I won’t lie though, the sense of relief was so great when we finished The walk and I felt so accomplished! And even though I was drained I was still ready to tackle cultural night.

Dinner tonight was interesting, because it was an unusual combination of meatballs and rice which I have had before but separate. I was also recommended to eat some spicy pickled peppers from Miss Malik which I had not had before and that I enjoyed because I love spicy flavours.

We even remembered to follow Mehmet’s dinner rule to sit with people we didn’t know. Muskaan and I decided to sit with the two Turkish girls who played handball with us. One of the girls even helped us pronounce the name of the dessert we had in Turkish- but don’t ask me to tell you because I’ve already forgotten!

After dinner, we reconvened on the games court and had another go at handball. This time the competition between Miss Malik and Antonio became very heated with Antonio winning 3 matches. So to dispel any ongoing tension we decided to head to the German and Macedonian Cultural Night.

Where do I even begin? At first things were very civilised and prepped. We played a Kahoot general knowledge quiz about facts on Macedonia and took part in a traditional Macedonian group dance. They gifted each group a packet of their traditional desert Halva as a gift. We then moved on to Germany, where we had to guess which of the two images of landscapes were from Germany. Then, as soon as the formalities were over, the entire group participated in musical chairs. Good god, I have never seen so many people lose their minds over a chair! Antonio held the UK front by getting down to the last four participants until he was unfortunately too slow for a Latvian girl.

Then the music became louder and the disco lights appeared. People began dancing and I knew this was our signal to leave. But before we left, Miss Malik was telling me earlier about Kurdish people on our walk and asked if I wanted to know more from the people in our group who shared with us earlier in the day their traditional Kurdish music.

She took me to speak to one of the Turkish group members, Farat to learn more about their history. We found out that the Turkish group were all in fact Kurdish people who lived in the south of the country. Farat told me how Kurds had been treated unfairly in Turkey for many years. I was shocked when I found out that 20 years ago Kurdish people could be arrested for simply listening to their own music and talking their language in public. We told him our school was part of the Robert Kennedy Foundation which helps young people learn about human rights and that we would share his story with people when we got back. It was very interesting to hear Farat’s stories and he said if any of us wanted to know more we could speak to him any time.

Well, what a day! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and I can’t wait for the rest of the week. Thank you for reading.

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