The second Servas Peace Forum, hosted by the Servas International, was held online on May 27, 2023. The theme is the Servas Peace School in Turkey. The Servas Peace School, which has been in operation for 15 years, was destroyed by the Turkish earthquake in February this year. The founder of the Peace School, Mehmet Ates, vowed to rebuild the Peace School and change it from only opening in July every year to year-round classes to alleviate the crisis, in order to benefit more rural children and residents.
He also expressed that he is willing to assist other countries, and hopes that in the next three years, there will be at one Servas Peace School in each of six continents around the world, so that all the world can enjoy the beauty of global cultural exchanges and bring peace.
The Servas Peace School, started in 2009, is held in Ekinci, a small village in Antakya, the capital of Hatay, the southernmost province of Turkey, for about 12 days every year in early July, inviting local children come to the class for free, a bit like an English summer camp in Taiwan.
Mehmet, a member of Servas Turkey, is a primary school teacher who grew up in this village. The main goal of establishing this school in 2009 is to open the horizons of children in rural areas through entertaining ways, learn to respect, tolerate different cultures, eliminate prejudice, build friendship, and promote world peace. He called on Servas members from all over the world to come here every summer to serve as volunteer lecturers to share their own country's culture and expertise, so that even if children in this rural area do not have the opportunity to go abroad, they can experience global cultures in their hometown and have more cultural stimulation. The content of learning depends on the volunteer lecturers, usually languages of different countries, drama, music, art, photography, cooking, environmental protection... and the messages you want to convey are incorporated into the activities. More and more children come to join. In recent years, 100-150 children aged 5-15 have participated.
Esra joined the Peace School since she was a child, and worked as an interpreter in the Peace School when she was a little older. She said excitedly that traveling to another city in Turkey was already a distant dream when she was a child, and the Peace School opened her eyes. Later, she went to university, became an English teacher after graduation, and even traveled abroad. At the age of 26, she is not only a core volunteer of the Peace School, but also the National Peace Secretary of Servas Turkiye, and the youngest National Peace Secretary in the world.
Local residents and community also benefit, where foreign members live in their homes, giving them the chance to know different cultures. A woman said that the Indians taught her yoga, which was fun, and the Indians also learned how to make cakes from her. It was wonderful to get together and learn from each other, and there was something for everyone!
The peace forum on May 27 asked participants must wear student uniforms to attend. The demonstration and introduction of the student uniforms from different countries before the meeting was an interesting cultural exchange. At the beginning of the meeting, two 10-year-old representatives of the Servas Peace School gave speeches. Their cute appearance made the audience scream continuously. Then, young volunteers who grew up in Peace School explained the past, present and future of Peace School. Finally, Mehmet taught everyone how to set up a peace school in their hometown.
Mehmet said that those who would like to create a peace school must be enthusiastic people, and then find people who are as moved by it as you are, and implement it together, which will attract more people to join, because there are a group of people in the world who also want to do Meaningful things, they are also looking for places to contribute to the world.
A total of 84 members from 35 countries and 5 continents signed up for this forum, and a total of 50 members attended the meeting on the day. Mei, the Co-Peace Secretary of the Servas International who planned and host the forum, said that three peace forums will be held this year, once a quarter, so that members can communicate online even if they don't fly. Those who are unable to attend the meeting can also watch the video on Youtube of Servas International https://www.youtube.com/@servasinternational2037