Let’s start by quickly introducing yourself. What do you study, how did you get in contact with IstKon and why did you choose to become an IstKon coordinator?

My name is Kerem and I study Political Science & International Relations at the Marmara University in Istanbul. When I was in Erasmus, I saw all the pictures of IstKon18 in istanbul. After that I said to myself: I really need to be part of that! And so I applied for IstKon19 as a participant in the academic team. IstKon was an opportunity to develop myself, so I really wanted to join the core team. So I thought a lot about how I can be beneficial for IstKon and saw that the coordinator position really fit well with my skills. 

Being a coordinator surely had its ups and downs, what was the most memorable moment in your IstKon work?

This academic year had two ups:

  • At one night during the Future Conference in Istanbul (around the end of the night) we were all very tired & happy, but I thought: That’s the stuff that I would like to do!
  • Also the Combined Core Team meetings during the ongoing pandemic were very memorable, when we were deciding how and what will happen. It was stressful and exciting at the same time and it felt like it was nothing regular, but special.

While we talk about IstKon, when did you know that the conference wouldn’t happen this year? How did you feel at that moment?

The decision of the Turkish government to close the borders was the moment, when we lost all confidence that IstKon might happen in the near future. But we needed to look for alternatives and to stay positive for the participants. So we tried our best and thought about what we could do instead. The closing of the border was still a big risk for IstKon. I felt a lot of stress, my hope was really low and damaged at that moment.

But then you somehow came up with the digital conference, right? What was the concept of it?

First we discussed if we should do the conference digitally or not, but then we wanted to show that an exchange can continue without crossing the border, so we tried to make it digital! The concept was two-fold and simple: The first and biggest part of the digital conference was the focus on improving relations between buddies. The smaller second part was about staying active and connected like through the presentation sessions (f.ex. about climate change).

So did it go as planned? Tell us your experience.

Yeah, better than expected! The participation was higher than expected, since we promised a real person-to-person exchange to the people, not a digital one. But we were surprised about the enjoyably high participation. People showed a feeling of belonging to IstKon.

So what are your plans with IstKon now?

  1. We want to have IstKon happen in the future safely, so we need to find a way to overcome uncertainty.
  2. We will prepare the next Core Team as good as we can for the tasks they’ll have to master.

Do you want to tell the readers something in the end?

Even during uncertain and hopeless times, we made the exchange happen. Having an exchange is not only going to another country, but also sharing ideas and chasing the future!

Thank you for joining this interview! 🙂

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