The Turkish language is taking the stage in the ninth edition of the International Turkish Olympiads, which kicked off Wednesday night with a glorious opening ceremony at Dolmabahçe Palace along İstanbul's scenic Bosporus.
The Olympiads get the world to speak Turkish as nearly 1,000 students from 130 countries will offer a variety of performances in Turkish on stages across the nation. Students face fierce competition in their home countries in order to come to Turkey, as each year about 15,000 students prepare for the event. The official bodies of each country select the students to represent them at the Olympiads.
|Opening ceremony of 9th Turkish Olympiads|
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin said the youth of the Olympiads will hold important posts in their home countries. He noted that the Olympiads are not all about poetry and song, adding: “These young people who study at schools that fight against illiteracy will contribute to world peace by getting to know each other. Those who love education sow the seeds of knowledge everywhere they go. I respect the people who started this movement. I salute all of them.”
The theme of the Olympiads, organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER), "One language, 5 billion people," is an attempt to signify the world uniting under one common language, replacing last year's theme, "We are speaking the same language."
Turkish Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu expressed enthusiastic support for the event as well. Çubukçu said the Turkish Olympiads began with a dream and that this dream has come true. “I follow every step of the event with excitement. We are happy that these kids, who arrive from various countries from around the world, can share a common ground, Turkish, and do something together. Students from 130 countries are here. Participation increases gradually every year,” she said in her opening remarks.
Turks did not attach much importance to their language, Çubukçu stated, adding: “These kids become voluntary [cultural] ambassadors by introducing our culture [to their countries]. The Turkish schools offer the best education in the countries they are located. The graduates of these schools hold high business posts in their home countries.”
The education minister also praised Turkish schools. “Ministers from some foreign countries call me for help in getting their students registered at Turkish schools. They want me to be an intermediary. I tell them that the schools accept students after an examination. It means the schools draw much attention. The relatives of important statesmen in many countries study at these schools. The real success stories, I think, are the teachers [at Turkish schools].”
After opening speeches, the students enchanted the thousands of guests with the nostalgic songs they sang in Turkish and other songs in their native languages. The successful students later performed folk dances. At the end of the ceremony, a chorus comprising students sang the song of the Olympiads.
The opening ceremony brought together politicians, high-ranking state authorities, artists and businessmen, as well as many guests from inside and outside Turkey. Among other guests were İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, Habertürk daily Editor-in-Chief Fatih Altaylı, former Democrat Party (DP) leader Mehmet Ağar, Çalık Holding CEO Ahmet Çalık and businessmen Ali Ağaoğlu, İhsan Kalkavan and Abdurrahim Albayrak.
The Turkish Olympiads will take place in 24 provinces and the events are set to run through June 30. İstanbul will host the song final on June 21 and poetry final on June 22 at the Haliç Convention Center. A cultural festival will take place in Ankara starting on Friday and run through to Sunday. The cultures of 130 participating countries will be introduced at the festival. An awards ceremony will take place at Ankara's ASKİ Sports Hall on June 25 and the event will wrap up with a closing ceremony at İstanbul's Sinan Erdem Sports Hall, which also hosted the finals of the World Basketball Championships last summer, on June 30. Thanks to the Turkish Olympiads, about 100,000 individuals have learned Turkish since 2003.
The organizers also announced that various projects and celebrations will be held at next year's event, which will mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Turkish Olympiads.
Published on Today's Zaman, 16 June 2011, Thursday