Croissants and baguettes, foods that immediately conjure the thought of France. But there is far more to the French culture. On a fair-weathered Sunday night, the Istanbul&I French Culture Night was held in the grassy fields of Maçka Park. A large crowd of nearly 50 people was present and ready to learn about what the culture had to offer besides its baked goods. The event included multiple games quizzing the participants on French Culture and was topped off with an offering of French cuisine. While the event was the first of its kind for some time (being held outside the familiar Istanbul&I office) it was a smashing success and left attendants satisfied with their new-found knowledge on French Culture. The event was held by our volunteers Orane and Julia.
When a crowd of 40-50 people has gathered for an event, icebreakers can often be the best way to start. The audience was divided into three circles with one simple task: say the first France associated word that comes to mind. However, participants were eliminated one by one if they would say a word that had been previously said. As the circles grew smaller and the laughter got more contagious, the organizers began establishing teams for the activities that were to come. While a simple "Eiffel" or "Château" could have moved you along in the icebreaker, the games that followed would prove more challenging. So, what better way to give folks an upperhand by having teams to encourage cooperation? As the teams were determined and some even chose names like “Team Balance”, the game masters summoned their assigned teams to their respective corners for the games to begin. The games varied in format but boiled down to French culture trivia. For example, there was a Pictionary game where participants would be shown a picture of Charles Dugoul and would have to guess his name. Another was music trivia, where snippets of French songs would be played and the team had to work together to guess the artist and/or the name of the song. There was also a literal trivia game where participants would answer questions about all things France and French. Of course, the lineup had to be rounded out by the classic pantomime game, otherwise known as charades. Each team would complete one challenge, rack up points, and then move on to the next one in a clockwise fashion. Teams competed for bragging rights and were then treated to a feast of epic French portions. Tomato pie and French salad were on the menu that night. Afterward some people caught up on their team scores, and others met up to recap their experiences with one another. One could say it was a memorable event.
Berra, a university student who attended, said of the event: “Nice people, and peaceful environment. I'm always afraid of feeling judged. I didn't feel like I would get judged here.”
And therein lies the Istanbul&I mission of being an inclusive safe space for people from all walks of life.