Foreign students coming from 135 countries to Turkey within the scope of the 10th International Turkish Olympiads, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established throughout the world, have been meeting İstanbulites at the Istanbul Expo Center.
Turkish visitors showed much interest in “culture booths” set up by the foreign students during the festival. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Turkish language Olympiads, which are organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). This year's competition, which will run from May 30-June 14, will predominantly be held in Ankara and İstanbul, but there will also be activities in 41 other Turkish cities. The theme of this year's Olympiads is “İnsanlık için el ele” (Hand-in-hand for humanity). The cultural festival, during which foreign students set up tables at the expo center to promote their cultures and countries, will last until Sunday.
The students will also stage performances during the festival. The inauguration ceremony of the culture festival, which İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, İstanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and Fatih University’s Rector Prof. Şerif Ali Tekalan attended, was held on Friday.
Speaking at the ceremony, Topbaş said he felt proud seeing such an important event taking place in İstanbul. Expressing his gratitude for the efforts of teachers in international Turkish schools, Topbaş stated that there were Turkish schools serving almost all around the world. “In this century, the fates of people all over the world are interconnected. We didn’t talk about such things 20 years ago at all.
People who didn’t experience it cannot know this. Dedicated Turkish teachers went to work in countries and cultures with which they weren’t acquainted at all.” Topbaş also thanked esteemed Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen for assisting the launch of Turkish schools abroad.
Mutlu said that introducing one country’s culture and language to other countries is not an easy task, and therefore what the Turkish schools and teachers have accomplish in 135 countries around the world should not be undermined. Mutlu went on to say that he is proud of the teachers and their efforts in the 135 countries. Regarding the culture festival, Mutlu stated that he was very happy to come together with Turkish language speakers from almost any part of the world.
Mutlu and Topbaş visited the tables of the different countries represented and talked with the students. The students wearing their traditional dresses, sung Turkish songs and recited Turkish poems during the festival. The folk dance performances the students staged attracted great interest from visitors.
During the first day of the culture festival, tens of thousands of İstanbulites visited the tables students had set up at the expo center. They were able to meet students and ask them questions.
Meryem (16) from Tanzania told Today’s Zaman that she liked Turkey and Turkish people very much. Stating that they are promoting her country’s culture at the table, Meryem said that Turkish people were very friendly people, that they had embraced the foreign students with affection during the festival. Commenting on how different Turkish culture is from Tanzanian culture, Meryem stated: “For instance, women wear various clothes here; some of them wear headscarves and skirts while some of them wear jeans, trousers, but in Tanzania women wear similar dresses. There is a traditional way of dressing.”
Meryem’s teacher from Tanzania, Zehra Ünal, said that Tanzanians like Turkish people very much in Tanzania. Stating that the Tanzanian people had some biases about the people coming from other parts of the world in the beginning, Ünal said that the biases and misconceptions of those people are being slowly eradicated with the help of teachers serving in Tanzania.
Rebekka Hauri (13) from Switzerland said Turkish people have behaved very well towards the students. Hauri, who will recite a Turkish poem in the Olympiads, said that her Turkish friends taught her how to recite Turkish poems while preparing for the Olympiads.
Florinda Hyka (17) from Albania said she was very excited to make Turkish friends at the culture festival. Stating that many people have been taking photos with students, Hyka said she had a picture of the Blue Mosque on the wall of her room and she always dreamed of visiting İstanbul and the Blue Mosque.
Meanwhile, Development Minister Cevdet Yılmaz, who spoke during an activity held at the Elazığ Atatürk Stadium on Friday as part of the 10th Turkish Olympiads, drew attention to the importance of the Olympiads by saying that each student who comes to Turkey for this event will serve as a “Turkish ambassador” and bridges which tie Turkish culture to other cultures across the world. Yılmaz thanked all the people who contributed to the organization and the Turkish teachers serving abroad.
Published on Today's Zaman, 01 June 2012, Friday
Turkish language festival kicks off in İstanbul