My youth work experience by Sevilay Kucuksu

Context of Author

Sevilay KÜÇÜKSU, English Teacher at Istanbul Technical University – North Cyprus Campus.


the Northern part of Cyprus


I was a shy and introverted young woman with prejudices and discriminatory attitudes towards the people of the South. Through my involvement in youth work and non-formal education I grew and changed. I now work in a University and volunteer in a youth centre supporting young people to experience life through youth work and non-formal learning activities such as youth exchanges and regular youth work projects.

Story in Full

My name is Sevilay. I am from the Northern part of Cyprus. Until I was 19, I was an antisocial person. The year I started university I met a guy who involved me in youth work. My first youth work involvement was through Youth Encounters for Peace groups. They were bi-communal groups that aimed to bring young people from both communities, the North and the South of Cyprus, in order to help them eliminate prejudices they had for the other community.

At that time we were not able to pass from one part of the island to the other. There was only one bi-communal village where we could meet with our friends from the ‘other’ side of the island. The conditions were difficult. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t give up, I was achieving what was difficult. Until I was nineteen I had heard a lot of negative things about people from the South Cyprus and now I was starting to cooperate with them! That was really interesting experience for me.

Being involved in these groups contributed a lot to my personality, I became more confident and I made more friends. I met friends that helped me get involved in international youth organisations through which I travelled to a lot of countries and deepened my knowledge in youth work. I even managed to organise an international training in the Northern part of Cyprus which at the time was very difficult because of political reasons.

Youth work not only helped my personality but also my education. Because I was an active and confident person I got a scholarship to do my masters in France. Now I teach English at Istanbul Technical University North Cyprus Campus. In my free time I volunteer for MAGEM – Famagusta Youth and Community Centre.

MAGEM aims to support young members with a variety of skills together with providing many other opportunities. By means of these opportunities the young people get the chance to improve themselves in various fields and also the chance to socialise. As a youth and community centre, one of the concerns of MAGEM is to create a space for young people where they can express themselves and stay away from such habits. Youth work helped to make me who I am today and so I try to give something back through my volunteering with MAGEM.