Mersin, Turkey - Photo by Emrah Gökdemir (Tandem Turkey 2011-12 Alumnus)
Mersin, Turkey - Photo by Emrah Gökdemir (Tandem Turkey 2011-12 Alumnus)

Serra Özhan

Meet Serra, Programme Advisor for the Turkey programmes

I’ve always believed in the healing and inspiring influence of art in our lives and so, I have been engaged in the field now for more than ten years.

My Tandem journey has started five and a half years ago within the organisation Anadolu Kültür, which believes in the impact of the arts and cultural exchange to create mutual understanding and overcome borders. I can say that I found myself in the essence of working in the field and I also realised that I am no more working but living it.

Throughout my Tandem journey, I have witnessed personal stories transforming people and having a great impact on the communities surrounding them. A few examples: stories encountered on the road from Turkey to Germany turning into hot selling novels; a participation to a conference ending up connecting the greatest European walking network ever with Turkey; having a Sami person (from Lapland) coming all the way from the north of Sweden to present her works in Turkey and now wanting to visit South East Turkey because she has found an affiliation to her homeland’s human-made disasters. And there are more.

Of course within these more than five years, there were also harsh stories, such as the story of someone escaping from war in Bab al-Hawa to Turkey and then passing through eleven countries in Europe to end up in Calais; or that of a participant of a public performance during Newroz in Diyarbakır, who later was badly injured and lost thirty kilos during the Gezi uprising; or hearing about an inspiring academic from a faculty of fine arts, who was among the founding members of two artist initiatives which were part of the Tandem programme, who was fired because of signing a petition on Peace in Turkey.

Within these borders of conflicts, jails, censored acts, wars, we have always been in close communication inside our big Tandem circle, which keeps us connected in solidarity. “Culture Without Borders” is the multiplication of this solidarity. It keeps us alive. With the hope of building better times together.

Mersin, Turkey - Photo by Emrah Gökdemir (Tandem Turkey 2011-12 Alumnus)