Şirince 15.08.- 05.09.2009
Why "Campus"? Why us? Why "Eco Tourism"? Why Şirince?
These are definitely the most frequently asked questions we had to answer during the long preparation period of our first ever "campus" in Turkey.
For quite a while now I, personally as a consultant and since the beginning of 2009, our NGO, the "Friends of Gökova-Akyaka" (G.A.S.-Der) are working successfully together with our French partner organisation CME/ GEC (Mediterranean Centre for the Environment/ European Group of Campuses). The CME/GEC has been organising summer schools and volunteer work camps in the West Mediterranean since many years, so the plan to organise a campus in Turkey seemed logical. All involved partners are experienced organisers, love to transmit knowledge and take their conservation tasks very seriously. Out of a multitude of reasons it still took us more than three years from the first idea to the final realisation of the "Turkey Campus 2009".
The French sponsor for the Turkish side is the Region PACA, (Region Provence-Alpes-Cotes dAzur), who has an agreement with the Izmir Province Government, therefore whatever we would plan had to be located in the province of Izmir. CME/ GEC and PACA required that the contents for this kind of campus should have to do with 'Eco Tourism'.
The very general outline of eco tourism might be clear, yet it has a multitude of definitions and only rarely it is implemented ethically correct. Still, it is "softer" than conventional tourism, it involves local people instead of disregarding them or merely using them as "servants", it should be including cultural and natural aspects and finally it should help to preserve all these values, too
So- wow! Eco Tourism in Izmir??? One of the main tourism provinces of Turkey? Beaches, posh holiday resorts, magazine values come to mind everything but "ECO". At least if you know that the abbreviation "eco" stands for 'ecological' NOT for 'economical' J
We had to get away from the sea, we had to think differently, in the direction of culture, nature, tradition. Of course adding these values up you to have to think about Selçuk, district of archaeological riches, like Ephesus, shadowed by two ancient castles, sheltering the grave of St. Mary- you can not get more culture than this. From there to lovely Şirince it takes literally only a few steps and you are in a cool, mountainous little village of Greek origin; nice and partly restored architecture, attractive. And- we knew Şirince from many years ago, when its inhabitants started to make homemade peach wine and sold dried figs and other natural goods. That sounded quite right for our campus plans. What complemented our plans perfectly, has been the warm welcome we received in both Selçuk and Şirince during our preparation period. Not only that, but we did get the much needed support which really enabled us to realise the campus. On top of all of this, we have been shown the most ideal location for a summer school one could think of. We could not believe our good fortune when we were introduced first to the Mathematic's Village and when we were accepted to carry out our plans there, we were more than happy.
We realised that we had to design our curriculum and syllabus on different levels. The campus and our work there should leave a footprint, something durable, usable, something that would make sense to people living and working in Şirince as well, as be of use to anyone interested in eco tourism. So, the tangible outcome of the campus should be a "handbook" about the potentials of eco tourism in Şirince, but our students should not only learn about 'eco tourism' but acquire the necessary tools to research, to analyse, to desktop publish a book like this, too.
Looking back, we think that we were extremely lucky to have been able to organise the campus in Şirince, it was a good choice. The decision about a 'multi facetted' syllabus enabled our group to present a quality result, was a good decision, too. The group was marvellous- disciplined, ambitious, committed, hard working and high spirited. The handbook itself has emerged in a real team spirit, it is a group product, "our baby"- the best proof that a "small group of individuals" can work miracles!
Thank you all for your support and help, for the nice experience, thank you for the handbook, thank you for participating!
Coordinator and Lecturer
Turkey Campus 2009
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