Falinge Park High School

Opening Doors; Unlocking Potential

Hi everyone, it’s Saba and it’s my turn to blog on here. So let me start by telling you that I as a person am very shy and I have social anxiety. In the past, I would never have spoken to strangers, do any form of public speaking, and I most definitely would never ever have danced in front of people. The thought of doing any of the following would have usually made me vomit. Well guys, I’m proud to say that today was the day I conquered all of these tasks. And you know what?  I enjoyed every minute of it- well, ok not every minute but close enough.

The weather this morning was extremely foggy and wet but our leader Mehmet forced us to do an energiser outside. The game was to do rock, paper, scissors and the group that was out had to run in the opposite direction. Things became a little crazy as one of the participants ran and slipped on the mud which led to his lip splitting open. But don’t worry the UK team were not hurt and behaved responsibly.

As we had a casualty, Mehmet had to take Calvin to the hospital which meant that Sheraz had to take over and we did another get to know you activity. This time we had one minute to stand in front of the group and talk about who we are as people and interesting facts about us. Now at first I was reluctant to do this because I hate speaking publicly anyway but I now had to share personal things about myself. Half the group had already spoken and I thought that I could get away with it. But after seeing a few of the other UK members go up, I felt bad not contributing and just decided to bite the bullet and speak. What also made me feel more comfortable was that each person that went up all expressed how nervous they were so I didn’t feel alone. When I spoke as well  the audience made me feel so at ease. What I found interesting was that everyone seemed so confident in the other activities we had been doing on the previous days but they too felt insecure speaking so openly about themselves. My favourite moment was when Nasrin spoke out about her anxiety, Farat told her that he too had suffered from the condition for most of his life and it prevented him from taking many opportunities; he encouraged her to keep challenging herself and to not be ashamed of her nervousness, which I thought was very sweet.

Mehmet soon returned from hospital and we got into the dance workshops. Now you may be thinking, Saba if you hate dancing and public performance, why on earth did you pick a dance workshop trip? And if I’m honest, before I went on the trip I just decided to ignore the dance element and I told myself I would deal with it when I got to Istanbul. Well, here I was: in Istanbul, in a room full of strangers and about to learn five cultural dances from scratch to be performed in front of the Turkish mayor in two days time!

Having just spoken to the group and getting to know more about them, I did feel a little  more comfortable with the dancing because I knew more about my partners.

The dances themselves were a mixture of Kurdish and Lithuanian dances. We firstly learnt the three Kurdish dances which were separated by three different songs: A traditional wedding dance called ‘Summame’, which means ‘sweet’ and is performed for brides on their wedding day as a compliment to them; the second dance was an energetic dance which involved dancing in rows to a song called ‘Dan at Halayi’; the final one was a freestyle dance to a song called ‘Delilo’ where we had to click our fingers and shake our hips in whatever position we wanted.

It also helped that Mehmet kept repeating the steps over and over with the music and everyone helped each other with the practise.  At first it was daunting because it was quite a complicated routine we have to learn but once everyone repeated it a few times and knew it by heart, we managed to pull off a good rehearsal. Yoletta, the Latvian group leader, made an intervention group to support the people who were struggling with the choreography.I was so surprised at how I managed to accomplish this and I felt surprised with myself at how I coped because usually I would never put myself in such a position as dancing – but when in Rome!

After the first Dance workshop we went for a break together to play another game of handball where Miss Malik and Antonio’s rivalry raged on and resulted in Miss Malik trying to catch a ball and spraining her ankle. (Can I just mention that this was the second time on this trip I have seen her fall. The other day, she tripped over Muskaan’s suitcase!) the Turkish believe in the superstition of the evil eye which they call ‘nazar’. We think Antonio gave Miss Malik ‘nazar’ because he was threatened by her – or so she tells me as we sit to write this blog. Anyway we rushed over to help her and fetched her some ice for the swelling. I was really worried about her but she assured us she was ok and went to rest her foot.

After such a dramatic break, we went back to the workshop to learn another two dances which were taught by the  Lithuanian leader Anastasia, who is a professional dance teacher. She showed us three cultural dances and gave us the choice to pick two.  I chose the second one because it looked fun and the steps were a lot less complex than the first option she gave us. I then chose the third once because it looked funny when the dancers moved around in circles and swapped partners so suddenly.

So with dances in hand and our instruction guiding us, we started to practise all over again. Learning these dances was harder than the Kurdish ones because there were more complex steps and the speed was faster. However, once we kept practising we became perfect! Mr Ahmed and Miss Malik also told me that I looked so happy and confident when dancing which is how I truly felt.

We then decided to show the singing group our moves and they showed us the songs they had prepared in return . They were really impressive to watch because they had all learnt five different songs in five separate languages! I just hope we can all pull this off on our performance night.

All that dancing had actually made me hungry and dinner today was  rice and chicken stew and chocolate pudding for dessert. I’ve definitely become accustomed to Turkish food over the week because before I wasn’t enthused by the options, but I really enjoyed dinner tonight.

With our bellies full, we left dinner to enjoy some free time to get ready for the evening event. In my room, there was some disagreement between certain individuals over the choice of outfit to wear for the evening party… but what do you expect when four teenage girls share a small room for four days straight?!

Finally, we managed to get ready but we were running late for the event and the fear of doing ten push ups as punishment forced us to run to the meeting hall. This evening’s event was the Eurovision Night which was so much fun!

Mehmet put us into random teams and we were  each given a song to lip sync and perform to. The titles included:

– In Da Club
– Rasputin
– What does the fox say?
– Mundia Tu Bach Keh Rahi
– Breakfree
– Waka Waka

My group had to perform ‘In Da Club’ and it was so fun to work with them because my team members had so many creative ideas. We made Antonio our 50 Cent (well he took this role for himself) and we decided to be his background dancers who were just dancing in a nightclub. We made him a paper chain necklace, a cigar, some paper money and one of the members gave him a hat to wear. Each group had half an hour to come up with a performance, which was going to be judged by Sheraz, Mr Ahmed and Miss Malik.

We were the first to perform and usually I would have been so reluctant but because I had been doing this all day – and because  the lights were off- it did not even bother me because I was too busy dancing to ‘in da club’ and allowing myself to get silly with my team.

In the end it was the group who performed ‘What did the fox say?’ who won which was Nasrin’s group! I was seriously impressed by their creativity, their outfits and their choreography because it was so well planned and they were all synchronised with each other.

Anyway I have to get to bed now, because tomorrow we are visiting Istanbul city and sightseeing.

Wish you were here… not!

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