Institute for Turkish Studies, Integration and Research (S&R) was founded on 26/6/2019 in Antwerp, Belgium and immediately started its activities to address their aims as stated below. The administrative body of the S&R is composed of three educators: Sener Ugurlu (the head), Dr. Ebru Karatas Acer (project coordinator) and Dr. Feyza Altinkamis (treasurer). They all coordinate together in all projects as a team and come from a strong educational background with full of academic and social experience.
‘Institute for Turkish Studies, Integration and Research’ (S&R) contributes to the integration, adaptation of Turkish society living for more than 50 years in Flanders, Belgium through research and education. For children and adults living in a multi-cultural society through Belgium and Turkey, our institute supports their belonging, aspirations, identity, academic success, self-development, self-esteem and their adaptation into these two cultures. In an immigrant context, we do researches and make projects for the integration of this multicultural society in Belgium. Our focus is on Turkish-origin people but not limited to this group. We aim to empower all immigrant groups in Belgium by means of inclusive and innovative projects. We invest on the mutual understanding among all immigrant communities and the host community through intercultural dialogue.
Our institutional body is recognized by Republic of Turkey Turkish Embassy of Brussel, Turkish Consulate General in Brussel and Antwerp, Ministry of National Education of Turkey, Yunus Emre Institute in order to create a legal identity through dialogue and collaboration. Also, through our sponsors, institutional partners and stakeholders (municipalities, universities, schools, NGOs, local/international initiatives, companies etc.) we try to build an accountable institutional body giving a voice to a well-integrated society. Beyond this, all volunteering initiatives and contributions create self-awareness in the society which is so initial for our social inclusion.
The target group of S&R is not limited to Turkish community. Because we aim a real integration in the community in terms of all layers and all involved parties, we are interested in all immigrant groups and different types of immigrants such as refugees, Expat groups or incoming Erasmus students etc. We believe that whatever the motivation of the people coming to Belgium for long or short periods, the environment is new for them and they need guidance for integration. In line with their socio-educational background and immigration motivation, their integration processes vary, so we aim to present integration programmes to these groups, considering their group-general and group-specific characteristics. As the administrative body of the S&R, we were also the active participants of this integration process. We are not the outsiders of the integration but real insiders. We, three of us, come from an immigration background and today we are the citizens of the real life and successful individuals of a completed integration process. During his active political life, Sener Ugurlu got involved in all integration projects conducted by the province of Antwerp and he is aware of all resources that a city can present to a newcomer. Feyza Altinkamis and Ebru Karatas Acer are interested in newcomers’ adaptation processes, too as academicians.
As we are a new organization, our main activities as an NGO may seem limited but we are all individually experienced in our own professional careers and from now on, we would like to pursue our socio-educational projects under the title of S&R.