Friendship, Networking and Fun for Freedom
From August 28th to September 1st, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) Turkey Office gathered 23 alumni from the field of civil society and academia in the beautiful Aegean bay of Akyaka. Together, they discussed and developed new ideas for the communication of the liberal message to the outside world, purposeful program designs of liberal gatherings and dynamic networking.
Away from everyday work’s stress and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Akyaka, the event offered alumni of FNF a comfortable space in order to reflect together on creative methods for boosting the impact of their work in the service of liberty. The first session was all about one of the most important aspects in the work of civil society organizations: the design of successful events. The main message the alumni took from there is that instead of focusing too much on logistics, the content of events should move to the forefront. First and foremost, it is the purpose that matters and turns regular events into thrilling gatherings. In that sense, the FNF alumni meeting in Akyaka was an ideal example for a purposeful event. Under the slogan “Freedom for all”, it was designed to provide input to Turkish alumni of FNF in order to make them successful multipliers of liberal values.
How to spread liberal values widely was another key topic of the alumni gathering. Long lectures, boring conferences, dry seminars – these are certainly experiences, everyone has made but no one has enjoyed. So, how to spice things up to make people excited about liberalism? Non-formal learning, interactive elements such as ice-breaking games, pushing people out of their comfort zone, entering and mastering controversial topics, digital tools – all of these can and should be elements in the education around liberalism. During the event, the alumni experienced all of these first-hand. A group competition on “building the highest tower” by using only spaghetti and marshmallows, the participation in life-streamed online surveys as well as brainstorming tasks on the most important values of liberalism - these are only a few examples of fun educative activities during the gathering.
Many of the activities could only be mastered in a group. Thus, the participants established strong bonds with each other during the event. Although liberals tend to be individualistic, the gathering taught the participants the value of networking and the feeling to be part of a large group united behind one important purpose. Although we fight for freedom, individualism and pluralism, being part of the right community and using one’s networks efficiently is a valuable asset for Liberals, as well.
The highlight of the alumni gathering was the farewell evening, which was designed as an interactive event by the participants themselves - filled with creativity and fun. The alumni enjoyed a dance performance and a ”Freedom Rap”, developed the motto “Friendship, Networking and Fun for Freedom” and organized a “Voice of Turkey” karaoke contest under the slogan of freedom.
After all, the gathering provided the alumni not just with theoretical input, tips and tricks on program design and networking. It also showed that they are not alone in their fight for freedom but can rely on a strong support network. The alumni meeting in Akyaka thus became a source of motivation and inspiration for FNF alumni. Due to the positive feedback of the participants and the big success, a similar gathering is projected for 2020.