Berfu was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. She was brought up with the notion of charity. Ever since she was a kid, she used to go with her parents when they went out and did voluntary work. “I think altruism was always a fundamental theme that ran through my upbringing. My parents are both doctors and they spent every weekend helping out in children’s foster cares or visiting people who had no access to healthcare,” she says. “As soon as I was old enough, I also started doing voluntary work.”
A matter of urgency
Because she came into contact with people from all walks of life, from a very young age, she already had a clear idea of various social problems. “Because of my background and my studies, I really want to work on making the world a better place. It’s not just about economic development, but also about building a sustainable society,” she says. Why is sustainability so important to her? “Because it is a matter of urgency. Chances are high that the Arctic ice will have melted by 2035, so we need to take action now,” she points out.
Studium Generale and EM are looking for the Student of the Year. Not someone who excelled with high grades or a lot of study credits, but a student who has selflessly committed themselves to others. This can be within the study, outside the study, in student life, in a personal capacity or something completely different. The polls are now open!
Berfu puts her money where her mouth is. One of the ways she has been doing this is through her position as the chair of the Erasmus Sustainability Hub. She contacted several student associations via the Hub to start a petition together. They drew up a list of fifteen action points. The petition was signed by over 500 people and in the meantime, three action points have been implemented on the campus. “Lots more people have worked on it. I am happy that the EUR has taken steps towards creating a sustainable campus.”
Helping young people
Young people are very important for the future, she says. That is why, with her platform Gelecek Gelecek (Futuristic Future), she wants to help young Turkish-speaking people to emancipate themselves. “I want to share the tools and the knowledge that I have with them. It’s about preparing for the future, like deciding on a career or a field of study,” she says. “I interview people from different universities, and I share tips on sustainability or talk about entrepreneurship. These are things that I have learned and really get a lot of pleasure out of.”
On a number of occasions, she received messages through her platform from people who found themselves ‘in a critical situation’, usually financially. “For example, someone wanted to go to art school, but their family is unable to support them financially. We then looked for a solution together: I helped him find a university and to approach people and institutions who could help him,” she explains. “I believe that people can solve their problems, as long as they get the right kind of support. And that’s what I am trying to provide.”
Vote here for the Student of the Year
Who is your Student of the Year? Sandra Garstka, Kyra Mulders, Geneeskundestudenten In De…
On an international level, she also tries to do her bit to build a better future. As a representative of Turkey, she is going to Indonesia in the summer for the G20 Summit. While there, she plans to discuss international issues such as youth employment and social entrepreneurship with young people from all over the world. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do things that are not only useful but also fun,” she says modestly. “I also find it such an honour that I have been nominated for the Student of the Year election. The fact that I can be among such great nominees feels like a win in itself.”
Also get to know Berfu in a different way:
Favourite quote? “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”
What is something that no one else knows about you? “That I love singing and acting. In high school, I acted in a lot of musicals, like Mamma Mia and Legally Blonde, and I really enjoyed it.”