A project organized by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) will take Turkish university students on a world tour, where they will share their experiences and work as volunteers in aid projects.
The brainchild of Bilal Erdoğan, son of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the executive of several nonprofit organizations, the project is sponsored by Turkish Airlines (THY), Anadolu Agency (AA) and public broadcaster TRT.
As part of "Experience Sharing Program," some 500 Turkish students from 117 universities will undertake various projects in 30 countries between July 29-Sept. 8.
The first team, which is going to Niger and Jordan, spoke to AA prior to their journey.
Batuhan Zeki Öztürk, a law student at Selçuk University, said he is excited about going to Niger. "Instead of going to European countries, I chose to take the opportunity to see our Muslim brothers and sisters in Africa and to understand their life. The spirit in that land is much different. Everyone can go to developed countries, but fewer people go to Africa. So I am very grateful to TİKA for giving such opportunities to young people," he said.
Öztürk said that in the first two days they would visit the southwestern city of Dosso to participate in the "Youth Caravan" program organized by the Niger Education and Entrepreneurship Ministry with the support of TİKA. Then, they would participate in charity and cultural activities in the capital Niamey.
Ozan Ergun a finance student at Afyon Kocatepe University, said that this program will provide students a chance to get acquainted with African culture more closely. He said he is excited at the prospect of visiting Niger. "We are wondering what we will encounter and what kind of people we are going to meet. I have had the opportunity to visit many countries and meet different people, but I have to admit that Africa feels very special."
Ali İmran Kösker, a political science and public administration student at Istanbul University will stay in Jordan for 10 days. "The fastest way to win the hearts of the people in the Middle East or the whole Muslim community is to tell them you come from Turkey. I am very excited and happy to go to Jordan with an organization spreading love from Turkey to the world." İbrahim Özoruç, a student at Inonu University, who will also visit Jordan said they will try to help out other people. "This program will enable us to be aware of our lost values and revive our love and companionship with our brothers and sisters," he added. Özoruç and Kösker will partake in maintenance work at a forest and plant new trees. They will also visit cancer-stricken children at a private clinic and organize a summer camp for them. Two students and others in their group will also work at a charity clothing store for the poor.
The volunteers will work on projects that vary from the restoration and maintenance of schools, libraries, places of worship and orphanages to furnishing those places, and from social and cultural events to the distribution of humanitarian aid.