The primary aim of the Community Volunteers Club is to support the children living in Kalkanlı and Güzelyurt, which are located in close proximity to the Campus, in social and educational areas; to help them succeed in school and improve their social skills and self-esteem; to provide information to the people who live in this neighborhood on environmental issues and current community issues; to organize events and activities that will enable the Campus community to socialize better with the local people. These are the basic goals of our association.
An Interview with Merve Şimşek , President of the Community Volunteers Club - Guidance and Phychological Counseling:
- What opportunities are there for the members of the Club to get involved in the surrounding community and engage in activities?
To attain our goals, we initiated on-campus activities, including essential trainings provided by the Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG), a Turkey-based association, and film screenings, held on a regular basis, that focus on emerging environmental and social agenda. Along with the Campus students and staff members, we launched awareness raising campaigns, such as Blue Lid Campaign. In addition, we launched the project Let the Sun Shine, an off-campus project that aims to offer social and educational opportunities to the kids living in Kalkanlı. As part of this project, we organized a wealth of activities, including Mathematics, English, Science courses; tennis and basketball courses; guitar and drama courses; and fine art workshops. All of these courses were given on a voluntary basis by the Club's members who participated in the training sessions that focus on the fundamentals of effective communication with children, delivered by the faculty members of the METU NCC Guidance and Psychological Counseling Program.
- Could you give us more information about the project Let the Sun Shine?
Over three years, a variety of people including Club members, non-members who are familiar with the project, METU NCC faculty members, and local people, put an effort into the project Let the Sun Shine and it improved considerably. We often met the children at the Assistance and Solidarity Association (KAYDER) building, located in Kalkanlı. Along with the courses mentioned above, we carried out art activities (Art Threapy & Creative Drama) to help the kids to improve their creativity and imagination, as well as their communication skills.
- Tell us about the supporters of this project.
The Club members, non-members who are familiar with the project, faculty members, and local people are supporters of this project, as mentioned above. To turn the KAYDER building into a functional space that can be used for the project, we received assistance from the faculty members, residents of Kalkanlı and firms that sponsor the project. The Office of Social and Cultural Affairs also provided a great deal of support. Thus, we were able to create three classrooms, a computer lab, and a library in the association building.
- How did you socialize with the surrounding community, particularly with the residents of the Village of Kalkanlı?
The festivities and kermesses provided opportunities for the Campus community and local people to socialize together. All of our members get involved in the Club's activities on an entirely voluntary basis. In addition, they all have busy academic schedules. For this reason, we sometimes slow down the project activities. Because socialization is an ongoing process, we try to spend quality time with the kids at such times to increase engagement and commitment within the Club and to strengthen our bond with children.
We would like to thank all members of the Community Volunteers Club for their active involvement and all non-members who have supported us so far.