04 March 2016

Cyber bullying & The Trojan Horse

Take a ride in the Trojan Horse with the help of Local Heroes Çanakkale, and discover more about what Cyber Bullying is. Andreea was in the training course CTR+ALT+Del Cyber bullying, that reunited early in January 2016, talented youth from all over the world, to discuss ways to react to and combat cyber bullying, using a variety of original methods.
Do you know where the Trojan horse went, after the famous film Troy, starring Brad Pitt was launched? It was given as a gift to the city of Çanakkale, or Dardanelia, as the ancient Greeks used to call it, named after Dardanus, the mythical son of Zeus and Electra. And it is where it stands today, on the coastal line, near the port.

Çanakkale lies on the Asian side of the Dardanelles, a narrow, natural strait in North Western Turkey, connecting the Sea of Marmara with the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea. It's the place where two great Kings, the Persian Xerxes I, and later Alexander the Great, stumbled in their attempt to conquer the world. It is also where according to a Greek myth, the lovesick Leander was swimming nightly to tryst with his beloved, the priestess Hero, until he drowned in a storm.

I got to feel a little like Helena of Troy, maybe due to my birthday, which I got to celebrate in this project, though this was not a primarily reason of my visit there. Why Helena of Troy? Because the 10 layered ruins of the once magnificent city of Troy, are at just a blink of an eye distance, some 25 km away. Our Turkish local guide, whom was born in Troy and has a souvenir business there, told us that Homer's Iliad was of great use and guidance for the archaeologists Frank Calvert and later Heinrich Schliemann who excavated Troy for its treasures. The latter run away to Berlin with all he could find, giving the Turkish government a run for its money.

It is a wonderful feeling to be there and see through where Victor & Hector were once making their entrance in the castle, or to have a quick glance at the Hellespont. Nothing moved since the Iliad. Calvert, whom was very keen on archaeology, is actually buried in Çanakkale where his family, that was coming all the way from Malta, established the English Garden, a place where the Levantines strolled, played tennis or rode horses. For Europeans visiting Troy, the first stop is Calvert's house.
What was left of the real treasure has been tucked away among other priceless objects, at the Çanakkale Archaeology Museum. There are rare findings of the statue of Aphrodite, Eros, Cretan Vessels, the bust of Emperor Hadrian etc.

Not far from Çanakkale, there is also the famous Gallipoli battlefield from the First World War, with the tombs of soldiers from Great Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire. These places charge you inevitably with the thought of peace, or better said with the inquiry " where does peace go when it ends?...Well...apparently peace goes to war..!"
The question " why are we so aggressive towards one another and towards the entire planet", springs in my mind...We humans, are so much alike one another, it is hard to believe we need mirrors, internal or external to proof we exist or to validate ourselves. 

Yet, aggressiveness, just like beauty, takes many shapes and forms, and passive aggressiveness can be fancily wrapped under the title of "cyber bullying", meaning us humans, hiding behind the screens of our computers, laptops, IPAds, iPhones and tablets, throwing heavy words at one another, posting rumors and gossips about a person or a group of persons, to defame and humiliate them, or to spread hatred in other people's minds about our intended targets. In short, there are aggressors in the virtual space ( basically the space in which a mouse can quickly become an elephant), whom create victims far beyond our perception and knowledge: there are suicides, rapes, beatings and murders happening as a direct result of cyber bullying.

Examples of concrete cyber bullying vary, but here are some: starting rumors through instant messaging, calling each-other names in chat rooms, forwarding private messages to others, insulting through social media websites, posting demeaning pictures of other people, making fake profiles on social websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and the list can go on. All of it is done with the intention to support deliberate, repeated and hostile behavior by an individual or group ( known as "digital pile-on"), that is intended to harm, hurt or embarrass a single person or others. It seeks to intimidate, control, manipulate, falsely discredit and humiliate. 
The cyber bully or cyber bullies may or may not know their victims, and they themselves can remain anonymous. Another form of cyber bullying is "cyber-stalking", that is a lot more strategical & organized, with the aim of dominating the victims. It may include monitoring, making threats, solicitation of minors for sex, gathering information to hares, and it includes patterns of online and offline behavior. Cyber stalkers can be put to jail.

While cyber bullying can be anonymous, traditional bullying is direct ( in person). You can escape traditional bully at home, but cyber bullying can penetrate the walls of your home or your child's home, and it is basically a "technological gift", an extension of the original one, and in cases of self-hatred, leads to extreme isolation of the victims.
Facts and figures show that 43% of the teens have experienced some kind of cyber bullying. The percentage of cyber bullying victims is however higher among females than males, 36% for the females, while for the males is 33%. It can be emotionally and physically damaging, and youth must be empowered to seek help in the matter, especially when they lack a safe retreat.
Checking various service providers reports, the reasons youth chooses not to seek help vary: 61% report youth think they can handle it on their own, 52% of the service providers say youth are concerned about retaliation if they report, 37% report they are ashamed of the incident and chose to remain silent.

The reasons for which youth engages in cyber bullying, seem at a far away distance to understand the consequences, different studies showing various numbers: 81% of the youth think it's simply funny, 64% say they don't like the person so they decide to cyber bully, 45% view the victim as a loser, and 58% didn't see the action as a big deal.
Our training course, CTR+ALT+DELL Cyber bullying, implemented by Local Heroes Çanakkale, reunited early in January 2016, talented youth from Turkey, Romania, Poland, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Vietnam & Pakistan, to discuss ways to react to and combat cyber bulling, using a variety of original methods. To name just a few, there were role plays, theatre forum, debates ( should cyber bullying be punished by law? If yes, then when to intervene?), competitions, treasure hunts, stimulating methods for thinking strategically such as the Albatroz Soup, physical fight games, the Holiday Stereotype game, interviews with the locals, films and campaigns against cyber bully such as: " hold your hands and stand up for your lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender friends" ( access it here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lrJxqvalFxM )
Our lectures took place in a building from the open air displays of the naval museum right next to Cimenlik castle (or Kala-I sultanyie built by Mehmet Sultan in 1462).

Another powerful film we watched, depicted the suicide of a Mexican immigrant girl in the States, bullied by her colleagues because of her accent, to such an extent, that she committed suicide, dressed in her pink prom dress. The aggressors then decided to take pictures with her body in the casket and posted them online. What was the role of the professors and parents one might ask..well, the girl did brought her parents to school, just that they did not speak English, so she was translating in between. Eventually, the dean allowed her to be home-schooled, but than, the same dean denied her to go to prom, just because she was home-schooled. The media only intervened after she was dead, and made things worse by identifying just one cyber bully to be at fault.

The theatre plays were a treat, we cropped some plays together in a very intelligent manner. We got to chose from different topics and me and my team took "The Refugee In a Boat" case. We slightly drifted from the forum plays, in the sense that we created a short parody to depict the religious paradox that seems to plunge over the nest of this hideous middle eastern war. I played the voice in the head of a refugee, putting his will down, and eventually I sank his boat. We than introduced Jesus ( played by a Greek writer), to help him walk on water, a beautiful Turkish girl played an Italian coastguard that contacted the God of the Refugees in Syria, and a Dutch Angel took him back home by the legs. Even in his death he did not reach safety in Europe.

If you are curious about our guiding script, here it is:

Scene I

Deea and Sal
Sal is sailing & Deea is the sail & the voice in his head
Sal: is it a long way to paradise?
Deea: quite so...keep dreaming ..keep sailing...ahahahaha
Sal: sails looking in the distance
Deea:...faster! faster! .....oh...you are getting soooo exhausted..you hands...your throat...
Sal: oh, my hands are getting tired, my throat thirsty...salvation where are you?
Deea: heeheehee.....you poor lost soul...salvation is what you need? By the laws of the sea, I shall give you some
Deea sinks the improvised boat, covers Sal with her coat and disappears. Sal is fighting with the coat.

Scene 2:
Jesus appears on stage and sits there ( Greek guy with a beard, standing in an orthodox posture with hands in prayer and an aura circling his head)
Sal: oh God help me, please help me 
Jesus: (jumps in the scene) Son, I'm sorry, but your god is in vacation, so..he sent me to teach you some western tricks.
Sal: yeah, I'll do whatever to save my life
Jesus: oh...let me think....the trick with the water: I'm gonna teach you how to walk on European water..

Scene 3:
Italian coast guard: "Bongiorno refugito" ...welcome to amazing Italy ..what brings you here?!
Sal: Jesus brought me here...he said My god is on vacation..
Italian coast guard (on the phone): hello, there is a dead man here, can some of you take him to his Paradise
Angel ( picks up from the other side of the scene) : hello, Angel speaking....oh! I see....( approaches dead Sal) ...come on ..we are going back home ( drags him by the feet through the stage).
The other teams picked up themes such as sexual harassment in jails adapted to all sexual orientations, gay marriages etc.

The Holiday game: "Lost on an island" with labels on our forehead, looked somewhat like this:

Photo Credits to Yavuz Perk).
In the case of interviews with the locals, we formed teams and we went to find " victims" in the city, in cafés, libraries, terraces that were filled with young people. Not all of them spoke English, and some were shy to engage in our interviews ( we were also filming them). The surprise was many of those young people had no clue on what cyber bulling actually is, and they seemed ashamed to talk about it. However, we did get some answers.

Our questions repertoire was the following:
1) what is bully? Have you even been bullied? (some replied they were the ones bullying) & what are the most exposed groups to bully in your country? ( answers: women, bullied by men, dark skin persons, kurds etc)
2) do you think bulling is in human nature? Many answered that it is in our human nature, as people like to have more space for themselves and dominate.
3) When I mention the term " cyber bullying", what does first come into your mind? Main answer was.. "nothing.."
4) Do you have a Facebook/twitter/ social media account? Have you ever been bullied there or heard about any?

They all had an account, but none were familiar with cyber bullying cases.
5) What harm do you think cyber bullying does on the internet? The respondents said, it depends on the situation/ cultural sensitivity/personality, and that generally, it is difficult to judge.
6) Do you think bullying should be punished? Answer: "when it creates victims.. yes".
7) do you think the government should take measures to protect society on the internet? Almost all the answers were that the government should stay out of it.
On the cultural level, besides having one of the best intercultural nights ever, with Italians bringing in mom's dry tomatoes and home made amaretto and sweets, Polish candies, and Greek cheese and sesame to name just a few to die for goodies.

Speaking about goodies, we were sent to do shopping. Not just any kind of shopping! But one with a meaning! Did you know that Turkish people in Çanakkale area have a special sausage they can eat that cleans their teeth? Neither did we until we bought it...
Besides this, the organizers were the sweetest things ever! 
They arranged for us to get the clues on where to go next on our treasure hunt, directly from the locals, for example, we had to get to a specific vintage library, selling old books on a street of book shops to get the address of a barber shop, and from there ..to get to the sausage seller, so we got to see a bit of the local vibe on unique streets.

And one of the tasks was to discover a local dance, so the winning team was the one who learned the dance well, and they got a box full with amazing stuff from Çanakkale, cookies, key charms, and souvenirs.

And should I mention Çanakkale is renowned, apart from pottery ( Çana= pottery, Kala=fortress), for its state of the art sweets, such as the cheese kunaf. I was lucky because the cakes looked and tasted just as good...my birthday cake was with chocolate and pistachio...yuuuummm. The chefs are dressed impeccably, and all ingredients are fresh!

The reason why I love Turkish culture so much is that they are genuine, warm and authentic, unaltered and uninhibited by savage capitalism. On my birthday, I wanted to taste some local pita and tea at a special cafe, with tables set by the wall of a pink mosque. The waitress had this pale skin, green eyes, all covered. At the end of my food treat, I left tip European style, but she than run after me the whole street to give it back. She did not speak English at all, and afterwards remembered my food preference every time I went. I never tried to tip again, to spare her the effort. Apart from the Pink Mosque, there are many other places in which a tourist can go, such as Yalova restaurant, famous for serving sea-food on fire.

Çanakkale, like Istanbul, has both an European and an Asian side. It even has a Greek district, an Armenian one with a church ( now turned into a Sufi place), and a synagogue for the 10 Jewish people that live there.

When I crossed with the ferry to the European side, wanting to go to Gallipoli, but not knowing properly the way, a man from the personnel of the ship went with me to ensure I would get the right bus when I descended from the ferry, all process done through gestures. I don't speak Turkish, and they didn't speak English. Well...I also negotiated for flu pills in a pharmacy, but in the end the experience was all good. Imagine that a Turkish lady took me and a Pakistani guy in her car to try to find an opened pharmacy. Same story, no Turkish, no English, just good will. Plenty of good will. The hotel stuff at Grand Anzac were all sugar. Perfect meals, dinners, maps directions and they even stored my birthday day cake over the night. Visit here:

From Çanakkale to Istanbul, we took the bus, which looks like a 5 star personal plane; the "bus steward", or the guy who serves drinks and sweets for the whole ride, noticed that I did not have water anymore in my 0,5 bottle....so he gestured rapidly...took the bottle from my hands and came with it refilled. That hardly happens in our western world, where we do not know how to emotionally and financially use and rob each other more.
PS: The half Greek, half Turkish Island of Bozcaada ( Tenedos Island) is a little gem at just an hour and a half distance from Çanakkale! Make sure you pass by! It is well known for hundreds of years for its grapes, its delicious ( mulberry) wines and the scarlet poppies! The island passed through most of the Earth's Empires, from the Persians, to The Romans, to the Byzantines, and it even belonged to Republic of Venice, before going back under Turkish rule! Right on Tenedos, it is where the Greek hid their fleet to trick the Trojans that the war is over. Must see!