Tuesday, May 15th 2018
Migration being as old as humanity itself, the history of the world may also be seen as a history of migrations. In not many places this is more obvious than in Istanbul. The colourful metropolis on the Bosporus is a melting pot of peoples from all over the world. The most varied lifestyles and milieus can be seen on the lively streets of the city connecting two continents. It was the capital of different civilizations and empires, long before the term “nation” even existed. Immigration therefore has a long and varied tradition, not only in Istanbul, and this was somewhat forgotten in the course of the 20th century. Until the 1990’s Turkey was mostly known as a land of emigration. The country’s role has however changed quite a bit in the past decades, had transmuted into a place of transit and is nowadays one of the top 20 destinations for migrants in the world.
After an endless odyssey through the Istanbul rush-hour, the Ball Team found its hotel at the Taksim Square, the central meeting point of the city with its 17 million inhabitants. The next day we started our workshop at the German-Turkish high-school, organized by the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Istanbul. The Spirit of football was already there before us, however! We were happily surprised, when we witnessed about one hundred students attentively following a football match between two classes in the main break. This was marked by an electrical stadium atmosphere, which would have been a dream for some of the regional league games in Germany. After our workshop, which was held in the seventh-grade German class, the Spirit-of-Football-Allstar-Team felt encouraged to try a little game with the school team (which had shortly before become the school-football winner of Istanbul).
After work, the Spirits explored the old city of Istanbul. Between the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque we went hunting for signatures with The Ball and listened to a lot of disquieting but also hopeful stories about the situation in Turkey. We remained with the impression, that inspite of well-founded concern, the German press gives us a rather one-sided view, which doesn’t differentiate between the political situation and the everyday life of people in the country. These welcomed us warmly and most of them were of our opinion that the power games of politicians mostly aim at dividing the people with simple catch cries. The everyday dealings between the different cultures and people in Istanbul are largely marked by mutual respect.
by Sven Messerschmidt