ISTANBUL – I‘ve always been a person who was afraid to meet people. I always thought they wouldn’t like me.
So when the Youth Journalism International Global Conference began in my hometown of Istanbul, I was really scared to meet everyone and stay with them for a week.
I was a new student at YJI and I didn’t know these people very well.
But when I started meeting everyone, all of them were so sweet and welcoming.
The first day was of course a little awkward, because everyone was seeing each other for the first time and most people were tired from the plane rides.
But after the first day, everyone started to get settled and we started to bond with each other.
Even though I made lovely friendships with everyone, I got really close with two people from this conference, my fellow students Sarah Gandluri from the U.S. and Erin Timur from Cyprus.
They made me feel really safe and we laughed a lot.
I am normally a shy person when it comes to doing public things, but I danced and sang in the middle of the streets with them. These are good memories that are gonna stay with us.
Erin and I got postcards and left each other a little note on the back as a gift to remember each other.
Sarah and I interviewed an ice cream worker and of course we got ice creams. And later on I shoved some ice cream on her face which was really funny. She didn’t even mind that her face was covered with vanilla ice cream.
This conference helped me make good, new friendships. More importantly, I learned how to be more confident about myself when meeting new people for the first time.
Naz Mergen is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International from Istanbul. She wrote this essay.
Lina Köksal is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International from Istanbul. She contributed the essential photo documenting the ice cream-on-the-face moment.