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מרכז לקהילה האפריקאית בירושלים

Volunteer Spotlight: Eva Gelogullari

Starting this summer, JACC will have two new ESL (English as a Second Language) coordinators. One of them is Gulin ‘Eva’ Gelogullari, a Rotary Global Scholar and Peacemaker, who has been coordinating Children’s English Program for JACC since November 2017.

Ms. Gelogullari is originally from Turkey, but she has studied around the world--in Turkey, Germany, the United States, and now in Israel. Her main background is in Radio, TV and Film. She arrived in Israel to pursue an additional degree in Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Tel Aviv University through the Rotary Global Grant in Conflict and Peace. After completing her studies, she wanted to stay longer to understand the diverse and complex Israeli society, culture, and the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, other disputes in the region, and possible solutions.

Her studies are currently supported by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Scholarship; it is a cultural agreement between Turkey and Israel. With that funding, she’s representing her beloved country as a Turkish scholar, and soon completing her degree in Israel Studies: Society and Politics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Last Fall, JACC set up an information table on the HUJI campus, which is where Ms. Gelogullari first learned about the community. She was immediately excited about the center’s work, and applied to practice her professional skills. After the interview, she was offered the coordinator position for the Children’s English Program. Through her position, she had an opportunity to put her academic knowledge into practice by working with the African asylum-seekers, refugees, immigrants.

Priorities for Ms. Gelogullari have included making sure to set a clear English curriculum for children and collecting books to read. In addition to that, she prepared community workshops, such as Building Self-Love, Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem; How to Be a Better Communicator; Nonviolent Communication; Interpersonal Conflict Resolution; Understanding Israeli Society in Cultural and Social Perspective; Embracing African Identity and Culture while Rebuilding Self away From Homeland. She is preparing more workshops for the 2018-2019 school year, for both children and adults, as well as training programs for the new volunteer teachers to maintain teaching excellence and transform the community.

“We had a wonderful professor at Tel Aviv University who taught us about Negotiating Humanitarian Space, Aid and International NGOs. The first thing he emphasized and repeated in every class was: FIRST, TO DO NO HARM (Primum non nocere). Each time I recruit a new volunteer, I teach this ethical rule, and provide some pedagogical and communication skills. We are serving for people who come from a long way, and we do not want to cause any harm, hurt or pain. In our English Program, we have zero tolerance for any kind of harm or aggression. We recruit volunteers from diverse backgrounds who have high moral values, genuine goodwill, loving-kindness and teaching skills.” she says.

Her experiences at JACC have shaped her future as Ms. Gelogullari plans to pursue her PhD focusing on the African civil wars and refugee crisis—particularly in Israel, and the development of African refugee communities glocally. "I want to become an expert in this field, and JACC is the right place to apply my academic knowledge into real life situations," she says. "Rotary International trains its peacemakers for sustainable development before assigning them to study and serve anywhere in the world. I was trained to create sustainable projects which embrace inclusiveness, diversity, harmony, compassion and transformation. To build a sustainable peace, I think, education is the right tool I can use. People know little about the African refugees in Israel, and how much they struggle to overcome their traumatic experiences while trying to adapt and rebuild their lives. These people ran away from violence, persecution, rape, murder and torture; thus, we need to give them our compassion and provide sustainable skills. In this case, I am doing my best to provide them English language skills by blending with workshops or course themes. By doing this, we help them to understand where and with whom they live while rebuilding themselves. A refugee's life is full of unknown; so in case if there would be a conflict in Israel regarding of accepting the refugees, they would have English skills where they can use globally."

In a day-to-day way, Hebrew is the main language that community members encounter in Jerusalem. But considering the uncertainty of asylum-seekers' lives, and English's status as the global lingua franca, English is in high-demand at JACC, too. "Language is a sustainable resource for them that we can provide," Ms. Gelogullari says. In the months ahead, she'll be working hard to make that resource available for anyone at JACC who wants to learn and transform their lives.

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