Knowing that I would not finish my study at Istanbul University and the YTB scholarship committee did not support me at all, I tried to gain more experience while I was still in Turkey by actively being a speaker in international forums and worked in some organisations. I share about the scholarship in here and why I finally quit in here.
There are some Muslim international communities in Turkey, even one of the Muslim organisation has a network in Indonesia, Aceh particularly. It even provides a scholarship for Indonesian students to study in Turkey. This organisation owns private universities. Some of them were closed under the Erdogan regime because the government thought that they endanger political stability.
I did not want to join any religious organisation. So I joined ICIS, Istanbul Center for International Students as they held many outdoor fun activities. However, even though it aims for international, most of the members were Turkish and they could not speak English. It did not support international students mentally to adopt the life better in that country. But sometimes it sponsors international forums or programmes and I had the opportunity to be a speaker twice in Istanbul.
I spoke once about Small and Medium Enterprises in Indonesia and how the young generation can support the growth of the businesses, together with friends from Tanzania and the Philippines. I then became the youngest speaker in the Istanbul Youth Forum 2015, talking about young entrepreneurs.
I actively looked for a job in Turkey and became a Research Assistant in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training (SESRIC) in Ankara. It was a great two-months time, as that was my first work experience in the international environment, even though all of the Department Directors were Turkish.
SESRIC normally announce the vacancy through facebook which is an odd way to advertise job opportunity. As I do not have a facebook account, I heard this information from a friend. We sent a resume and waited for a week before they called us for an interview on the first day of Ramadan month. The first test that they asked us if we want a glass of water. Believe it or not, if we answered yes and we were not fasting at that time, they might eliminate us. I have no idea if this is appropriate or not but, in the end, we were both accepted.
I accomplished a project and got positive feedback from the Project Manager who was also the Organisation Development Director. However, they did not extend my contract. I was wondering why they stopped after I finished the project with a good result. Then I met the HR Director and asked. He did not give me any clear explanation and said that my friend got another month extension and two other Turkish new employees. The working language is English but as far as I know, those Turkish colleagues did not speak English. I stopped asking. I assume that they had the budget to only hire three people for the next project.
When I was in the UK, the Project Manager sent me an email asking if I want to join SESRIC again. That was actually nice but I was politely saying that I am not in Turkey anymore.
After I finished my time in Ankara, I continued working in Fethiye, the Turkey seaside town. I worked as a Coach for children in the summer camp of Zentara Women’s Solidarity Organization. It was another one-month amazing experience. Although we did not use English, they understood my Turkish. I met good friends and spent time together after work and on the weekend, as the organisation provided accommodation with a large living room to chill. Fethiye is beautiful and I considered this as a paid holiday.
Working with children is fun. I taught them Indonesian culture and how to do War Dance from Borneo island. Even though they did not like it as much as Zumba but at least now they know that there is another culture in another part of this world. I also taught them how to speak basic English conversation.
I spent my last one month in Turkey by preparing my application for LPDP scholarship which allowed me to study in the UK in 2016. I started by taking IELTS, asking for the reference from my Turkish Language lecturers and completing the documents required.
After all, I went back to Indonesia with bitter and sweet memories. Started by the scholarship which is relatively easy to get but definitely hard to understand the management system and ended by the great experience with lovely Turkish children.
Believe all that happens to us is for good. Even when God allows bad things to happen, there is something good behind it. It is not always about who achieved more in the end. Sometimes it is about who enjoys more in the process to get there.