Trabzon - Unlike the athletes, they don't stand in the shiny spotlight. Yet they are an important part of the 16th ISF Gymnasiade. Overseeing the smooth running of every crucial aspect of the event, they are always here to help you and guide you. Their number reaches to 300, they are young, ambitious and willing to develop new skills. Meet the volunteers!
Adnan Darwish, 23 year old volunteer from Syria, fled to Turkey more than 3 years ago because of the war. Back in Syria, he was studying petroleum engineering. "When I came here, it was hard as I didn't know the language. I stopped studying and worked at a restaurant where I improved my turkish. After ten months, I applied for university, and I study architecture now."
Normally you can meet Adnan somewhere between the city of Merdin, where he lives with his family and Konya, where he studies. But for the next few days, he will be in the Trabzon airport welcoming the newcomers, in the athlete village or in the venue: ,,Turkey made a lot for me and my family. So I take it as a debt and I try to pay back by helping as a volunteer."
"My path is to help people and this is my way to do it," says 20 years old Olivier Uwishema from Rwanda. A year ago, he started studying medicine in Trabzon after he got a scholarship as a best high school student in the city of Kigali. Olivier is definitely not a greenhorn as the Gymnasiade is his fourth volunteering experience - in April, he attended the National medical congress in Ankara as a volunteer too. Olivier's dream is to be a brain surgeon, but he still has a long way to go, as it takes 7 years to become a doctor. "Volunteering is an experience, a way how to grow. That's why I do it," he ends with a smile.
Aysegul Tomruk is a 20 year old student from Trabzon: "I study to be an English teacher, so this is definitely beneficial for me. I want to interact with people from different countries, make new friends and I hope I will learn how to be less shy", she admits. Aysegul also thinks that this experience will make her CV more interesting and attractive for her future employer. She is waiting for the bulgarian team to arrive to become their guide and their right hand.
Aysegul herself was at the Ataturk airport at the moment of the attack that happened at the end of June. "I know some of the teams were affraid to come to Turkey, but I wish they did. I hope that people who decided to arrive will see how friendly turkish people are. I can't wait for the competition to start and to see different people from different countries enjoy the sports in peace and all together."
The competing will start in two days, but the volunteers are already working hard. Their motivation of participating in the Gymnasiade 2016 might differs - some of them want to get new experience, develop their skills, make new friends from all around the world, some of them even wants to "pay their debts". But they share the main goal - to be united and to celebrate peace through this major school sport event.
More information on : Twitter: @ISFsport & Facebook Page: @gymnasiadeISF
Lucie Hrdlickova - ISF Reporter