Humankind has always imagined the future. We imagined a more secure cave as a shelter. We imagined more food, a warmer home. We imagined vehicles that go on their own and to fly. As we approached the 21st century, we imagined trips to Mars, colonies in space, time machines. We imagined Back to the Future’s and Jetsons. None of us really imagined that in 2000s, the world would be so cruel and so much in pain, that we would feel so helpless and still yearning for peace.
Ask any AFS volunteer anywhere in the world what our mission is and he will form you a sentence that will include the phrases “world peace” and “intercultural understanding”. That is why, for years, we assess students, chaperone their orientations, find host families and provide counselling. Yet, we see that our efforts bring us nowhere near our goal, that peaceful world. Are we going to give up? No! But in order not to let “world peace” be just a cliché in beauty pageants, something different needs to be done.
We have no objection to use AFS as an acronym for another fat student, we all enjoy having some fun. However, we should not be forgetting the origins of our organisation: Field Service. We may no longer need to carry the physically wounded from the battle fields. But in one hundred years, battle fields have transformed, so have the wounded. There are still millions out there looking for a helping hand.
For this very reason, to be able to do something more, to serve peace more effectively, Turkish AFS Volunteers are going back to the field. We dare to imagine change the world and we dare to act on it. And to make that real, we launch the KArE (kültürlerarası etkileşim – intercultural interaction) initiative.
Our aim is to bring all those who wish to work for peace, and see intercultural contact as the means to do this, under one roof. We aim to focus on developing new programs, bigger projects; reach parts of the map we could not reach before, enable more people to touch each other. It is a new organisational system focusing on the mission and not a program, open to everyone who share our common goal. We want to share our experience and enthusiasm with anyone wishing to do the same. Our projects are lining up and we are anxious to get started.
Years ago, we started this journey saying “walk together, talk together”. Now we are saying we need to talk to even more people, walk much faster. Then and only then shall we have peace.