Cultural Exchange – workshops at Bartin’s Art High School

Bartin is a city on the Black Sea 300 km from Istanbul. It has a population of 50,000 inhabitants.
We went there with another association headquartered fromMarseille.
This exchange Franco-Turkish intended to solicit inter-European exchange, for fundamentally different cultures share common moments.

Upon our arrival, we were supported by Esref, our guide and translator during the stay at Bartin. His presence was necessary because few people speak English in this city, which is not very touristy.
The Elephant Music Association has been invited to visit Art High School workshops.
We were warmly received on the morning of September 28 by the Director, four professors from different school subject and a student who acted as translator.
The School aims cultural development and training of the inhabitants of the city and the region. The courses are provided to adults in this part of the establishment.
Several courses are available: music, traditional embroidery, tapestry, theater, reading, learning other languages ​...
Subsidized by the state, it provides some sixty different activities for nearly a hundred courses. The modules are created whenever there is a minimum of 12 students and they are not necessarily required in the school.
Teachers are key players in the cultural life of the modern and traditional Bartin’s region. Indeed, Battery and theater professor is one of the organizers of a festival that takes place every year and tends to expand by inviting artists come from all over Europe. Parallel to this, professors perpetuate an embroidery technique endemic to the region of small metal strips are bent on a mesh to form beautiful patterns. For the course that greeted us we could count at least 25 women who were between 30 and 50 years participating in learning techniques and manufacturing embroidery. In another workshop, we have seen women on looms producing mats and table covers.
These workshops allow them to learn trades while having ancestral income through the sale of products. These are generally housewives who make ends meet by participating in the School modules.
We also visited a shop beautician. They are followed exclusively by girls under 20 years. The contrast is striking between the average ages of women in different courses. As elsewhere, young people are abandoning the path of tradition to show the path of modernity.
We also visited the shoemaking workshop. The shoes are made ​of fine leather manufactures. They are sold in the region of Bartin or given to disadvantaged students. Apprentices are trained in this manner that they can do their job and integrate shoemakers in big cities like Istanbul or Ankara. At the end, we saw a video showing the school, the various means used by the School to train its members: safety training, driving heavy equipment, traditional and contemporary dance, sports, music...
The proximity of teachers in relation to their students is touching. Not to mention their language, their aspiration to transmit their know-how is striking.
The school has a cultural large gap ambition evidenced by web design courses held close to the workshop loom.

Later in the day, we went to the other side of town to visit another part of Bartin’s Art High School. Buildings are more modern and consist of small classrooms.
Here the students are between 14 and 18 years. There are 60 students for 22 teachers.
The courses are traditional Turkish national education plus music lessons, sculpture and graphics. Reign in this place, an artistic atmosphere (presence of sculptures, paintings and background music) and strict at the same time highlighted by the uniform worn by students.
Students are admitted after passing a preliminary test.
Music classes begin only by mastering the piano the first year.
They are then given the choice of instrument to use, most often found the guitar, saz (long necked lute) or kemence (old violin).
We were surprised by the number of computers in relation to the number of students. Even more so when we learned that the books and especially tablets are available free to students during their courses.

The end of our visit, we got a little private concert. Two young fourth year in a saz and singing and the other playing kemence. A good time marking our memories.

In a small town of 50,000 inhabitants, it is surprising to see so many ways to educate young and old alike. Then social exclusion is limited (learning trades, languages, internet ...). Exciting to see that in one place can coexist traditional and modern practices (embroidery and internet). See also in the same place for young and old alike can be trained together, a nice generational cohesion follows.
Seen from France, we could say that the integration of Turkey into Europe is an aberration that the cultural gap is too large.
Only when we went there, we hit the openness of its citizens and the impressive cultural contribution (music, architecture, history ...) they bring to Europe.
It was a nice trip where our eyes, our ears and our bellies were filled with goodies.
We will return...