The Turkish families who hosted students from the 10th International Turkish Language Olympiad in their homes for over two weeks were sad to see the students, whom they regarded as members of their own families, return home.
Aykökül Bolotbekova and Feride Dursunova from Kyrgyzstan, who competed in the Turkish Olympiad, were hosted by the Yılmaz family for one week in İstanbul.
(Photo: Today's Zaman)
The Olympiad, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools around the world, is organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). It was held from May 30 to June 14 in various cities around Turkey, predominantly in Ankara and İstanbul. A total of 1,500 students from 135 countries performed on 65 stages across the nation this year.
During the Olympiad, some international students were hosted by volunteer Turkish families. Having spent some time with these international students, the host families were unwilling to separate from their guests whom they begun regarding as family members. With the completion of the Olympiad, the students will now return to their countries. The students, who experienced the hospitality and kindness of Turks first-hand while living with their host families for over two weeks, were also sad to leave their host families.
Deniz Gök and his wife, Leyla Gök, who hosted an Egyptian student, Eyya Sultan Süleyman, told Today’s Zaman that they were proud and privileged to have hosted a Turkish Olympiad student in their house. Stating that they had established firm and unforgettable friendships with students during the Olympiad, Leyla Gök said they would like to host more Olympiad students from around the world in the future. Yüksel and Necla Gök, who hosted another Egyptian student, Fatma İmam, in their home were also sad to see their guest leave.
Süleyman and İmam, whose eyes welled up with tears as they spoke of their separation with their host families, told Today’s Zaman that they were sad and did not want to leave their friends in Turkey. Noting that they initially felt some hesitation when they were first told that they would be staying with Turkish families, Süleyman said she became friends with her host family in such a short amount of time. “I even follow them to visit neighbors and go shopping with Leyla. Each night, they cook various kinds of delicious Turkish food for me. Because I like çiğ köfte (raw meat patties with special seasoning) very much, there is always some on the dinner table every day. I feel as though I was a member of their family. My love for Turkish has doubled after attending the Olympiads in Turkey. My goal is to be a Turkish teacher,” she said.
İmam, a final-year student at the University of Egypt, missed her final examinations in order to attend the Olympiad in Turkey. “After I met this family with whom I have been living for two weeks, I don’t regret not taking my final examinations in Egypt at all.” İmam stated.
Another couple -- Devlet and Sema Yılmaz -- who hosted two Olympiad students, Aykökül Bolotbekova and Feride Dursunova from Kyrgyzstan, in their house told Today’s Zaman that they didn’t regard the students as guests but as family members. Sema said that she has three daughters but this number increased to five with the Kyrgyz students. “I cooked the most delicious Turkish food for the students and we toured İstanbul together,” she said. Büşra, the middle child of the family, said they regretted not hosting Turkish Olympiad students in their house before.
Bolotbekova told Today’s Zaman that she was very happy to have come to Turkey, adding that she had a wonderful time with her host family. “I think my visit to Turkey brought out a lot in me. I grew more mature and my point of view expanded.” Stating that people who speak the same language share the same feelings, Bolotbekova further stated that it will be impossible for her to forget what she experienced in Turkey. Lamenting that time had passed by so quickly, Dursunova said the thing she loved the most in İstanbul was the Bosporus. She said because there is no sea in Kyrgyzstan, she would miss it very much when she returned home.
Published on Today's Zaman, 18 June 2012, Monday