RECONNECTING: March 2022 Istanbul

4th bridge


Visual recording of the 3 Programme days

Click here to see a 2 mins video snapshot of the event.

Click here for Day 1 Video

Click here for Day 2 Video

Click here for Day 3 Video

Click here for 4th Video

Click here for all the photos taken by Ismail

A welcome from the European Commission

Lenka Zdrahalova

fruitful conversations

Hello to all of you! It’s great to see 100+ people in the room, thanks to the organisers for making this possible.

After two years of Covid, and all those times when we couldn’t even see our colleagues and own friends, it’s great to have this event. It has an absolutely perfect name - Reconnecting. And it really is one of the first possibilities and opportunities that we have to re-connect again. Unfortunately, Covid is not totally over yet, and some of us have to connect remotely through Zoom, but we hope to be with you in person, physically, during future meetings, and at any opportunity we get.

2022 is the perfect timing for this meeting. 2021 was extremely busy, as we all know, and we all had a rough ride. There were many challenges, including delays, the pandemic, extreme weather events, other crises that needed an immediate response. Now we have the new generation of youth programmes (Eramus+ and the European Solidarity Corps) up and running.

At the beginning of this year, we thought ‘we’ve done it! We’ve got things running….now to catch up on normal business’. Unfortunately this was very optimistic, and now we have another crisis to respond to. On our doorstep we have a raging conflict. It means more work, new and emerging needs, and we are all very tense about what is happening.

I would like to thank all of you for the efforts you are making. We have seen the National Agencies have been very quick to react to the current conflict. You are on the spot, helping participants of our programmes, as well as others that are affected by the conflict. Unfortunately, it looks like the situation is going to go on for quite some time still, I can only say thanks again: I hope we can get through this as well and as quickly as we can.

And so what about the YouthLAB and the 3 upcoming days? Your time being together on the spot is precious. You have the opportunity to reconnect and to share the first experiences of the new programmes, discuss both the positive aspects and those that might still need some fine-tuning.  

I hope you enjoy the next three days,  the discussions and the time together. Now is the moment to exchange good practices, to develop more good practices for the remaining 6 years of the programmes, and even beyond. Have a good YouthLAB!

Lenka Zdrahalova

Programmes sector team, Unit B3

Welcome to Turkey, from the Head of the National Agency

İlker Astarci

Turkish NA supports yp


Welcome to the Youth LAB, where I know you will have fruitful discussions. Welcome also to my beautiful country, Turkiye (Pronounced: “Turk-i-ye”: we are encouraging this new pronunciation to strengthen our language). I hope you get the opportunity to visit this beautiful city, also with our gift to you of a boat tour of the Bosphorus in the evening. 

The youth directors of the Turkish National Agency have been working hard for this event and are here to look after you. There are 20 people in total from the Turkish National Agency at this LAB. It is a great international experience to connect with colleagues. 

I myself am an international person. I was born in Belgium, speak French, Dutch and English as well as Turkish, and graduated in international business from Liege. I have lived in Turkey for 18 years and was posted as the NA director in January 2019, so this is my fourth year in that role. With the COVID times it has been challenging, and we hope by the time of the next Youth LAB we won’t be wearing masks any more. 

Turkey is a big country. Out of a population of more than 84 million citizens, there are nearly 21 million who are aged 15-30. The National Agency, hosted in the Ministry of Youth in Turkey serves this large audience through the European Programmes, with an annual budget of €135 million. Each year there are approx. 12,000 project applications, and we support nearly 60,000 young people each year through the opportunities the European Programmes offer, to have an international experience. 

As you can see, we are a big National Agency, and with our focus and priority on young people, this Youth LAB event is very important to us. I know that my colleagues will take care of you, and help you enjoy your journey in Istanbul. 

I hope this event will be fruitful for you, and thanks again for coming!

İlker Astarci

Head of the Turkish National Agency

Hoş geldiniz, from the Turkish National Agency

Emirhan pic




Welcome! I would like to welcome you all to İstanbul and the Youth LAB 2022. İstanbul has 3 bridges, and this LAB could be seen as the 4th bridge which is reconnecting youth work in İstanbul. We’re so proud of gathering 140 colleagues from 31 countries here. All in all, thank you for my dear colleague Handan, great facilitators Gisele, Darko, Jan and Özgehan to make this unique opportunity possible today.

The Turkish NA started to work in the field about 20 years ago and has reached more than 60,000 young people each year. We are doing our best to serve the young people in our country.

I started in the NA almost 11 years ago as an EVS officer. Since then, we have seen the transformation of volunteering, solidarity and in general youth work. Even during the Corona times, and post-Covid times, we haven’t stopped working. We’ve been trying to do our best to support young people so that they can benefit from all the opportunities we provide.

Today we have two Directors of National Agencies with us - Mr Luis Alves from Portugal and Mr Erik Langbråten from Norway. They are very welcome here, as are all of you!

New colleagues new faces, we’re more motivated than ever, welcome among us!

I wish you a fruitful and joyful event here in Türkiye!


Emirhan H. ASLAN

Coordinator, Youth Mobility Unit, Turkish National Agency

our wishes




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Evaluation of the Youth LAB


Already making a change

How you feel now after event

what the LAB means to you now

logistics meet needs

The Team

Facilitators: Jan Lai, Ozgehan Senyuva, Darko Markovic

Reporters: Susie Nicodemi, Coline Robin

Prep team: Gisele Evrard-Markovic (SALTO T&C), Helena Briševac (HR NA), Theodor Háva (CZ NA), Anna Villani (IT NA), Inge Linne (DE NA)

Host NA organisers (NA TR): Handan Boyar, Yasmin Kocak

Technical support: Aytaç Uzunlas, Ömer Faru Koçhan, Evrim Ergan, Ismail Efe Isìksal, Mustafa from logistics organisation