GÖÇ’erken (While Migrating)
The project in brief
Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM)
Youth of the Future Committee
A play called GÖÇ’erken (While Migrating) was developed and performed by locals and young refugees in both Arabic and Turkish. The play was staged in many cities and reached more than 1,500 people.
Firstly, the theatre project GÖÇ’erken (While Migrating) aims to promote self-reliance, empowering youth and facilitating interaction and cohesion. This includes social accountability and mutual dependence – making decisions, mobilizing resources, building and maximizing interpersonal capacity to address challenges and initiatives for mutual benefit, along with the social harmonization between refugees and locals in the context of an artistic activity.
Secondly, the play aims to facilitate social cohesion by addressing the consequences of stereotypes, prejudice and negative public perceptions of refugees, as well as promoting empathy and a message of peaceful coexistence.
The project was initiated by UNHCR Turkey. The financial resources were provided by UNHCR and the personnel by the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM).
Main activities of the Good Practice
The participants developed a wide range of skills during the preparation and implementation stages of the initiative:
- Drama and performance training, as well as brief trainings and workshops on writing scenarios
- Social skills developed through sharing, teamwork, emotional articulacy, and nonverbal communication
- Cultural interaction and mutual understanding promoted between youth members of both communities
- Project management skills
The play reached over 1,500 people, both locals and refugees.
- Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality
- Osmaniye Metropolitan Municipality
- Osmaniye Provincial Directorate of Family Labour and Social Services
- Adana Metropolitan Municipality
- Kahramanmaraş Metropolitan Municipality
- Kahramanmaraş Youth Centre
- Kahramanmaraş Social Service Centre
How challenges were overcome
The first challenge was the school attendance of the actors. Since the Youth of the Future Committee includes members between 16 and 25 years of age, times allotted for school and rehearsals were sometimes in conflict. Working members also faced these problems, which caused them to miss some of the rehearsals.
To address this challenge, rehearsals were scheduled after school hours and sometimes on weekends. Individual differences were taken into account to arrange the most suitable rehearsal time, ensuring full attendance. A backup team also took part in rehearsals to prevent further problems caused by the absence of working members.
The second challenge was posed by the lack of teamwork skills among both refugee and Turkish participants. Motivational activities were provided to build and develop these skills, promoting the purpose of the project.
Finally, some of the parents of participants were not willing to send their children to other cities to perform. In addition, considering the age of the participants, many needed legal permissions from their parents to travel independently. To resolve this challenge families were informed about the importance of the initiative in the hopes of convincing them to allow their children’s attendance at both rehearsals and performances. Transportation capacity was increased to bring along the families that did not give permission for their children to travel to another city independently.
Results of the Good Practice
- The play was written by the members of Youth of the Future Committee with the aim of promoting communication, interaction and a better relationship between youth and adolescents of the host community and refugees. The bilingual play was performed twice with the support of Gaziantep, Adana, Malatya, Osmaniye and Kahramanmaraş metropolitan municipalities and reached about 1,500 audience members from the host and refugee communities.
- Because the play relates to the circumstances of moving, displacement and migration within the historical Turkish context, audience members were engaged in the story and could empathize with the various characters. It was also important to show the possibility of two cultures coexisting peacefully.
- The solidarity established between youth beneficiaries from both communities has contributed to social cohesion, as they played the roles of connectors and peace-builders. The play has been very inclusive as the development and performance of the project included both local and refugee youth. This was done under the supervision of ASAM and with the collaboration of UNHCR and the municipalities that provided venues for the performance. In addition, as art is a universal language, theatre creates its own language and brings together the different languages, cultures, and people on the same stage.
Göç’erken 2 and 3 will be written as a continuation of the story to provide different perspectives to migration and displacement.
İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak, General Coordinator, Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants (ASAM)