Students from around the world staged performances despite heavy rain on Monday, captivating the audience at a Konya festival that was held as part of the 10th Turkish Language Olympiad.
65 students from 25 countries presented various performances, from folkloric dances to poetry reading, in Bursa with the attendance of about 30,000 locals (Photo: Today's Zaman)
A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Turkish Language Olympiad, which was organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER), and brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established around the world. This year’s competition, which will began on May 30 and will continue through June 14, will predominantly be held in Ankara and İstanbul, but there will also be activities in 41 other Turkish cities. The Konya festival took place at the Konya Atatürk Stadium, with over 40,000 attendees, even though there was heavy rain in Konya. Seventy international students from 25 countries performed at the festival.
Gaffar Şamilay from Azerbaijan sang two of the most popular Turkish folk songs, “Zahidem,” and “Nartanesi,” and played the saz (a stringed instrument) very skillfully, a performance in which Konya locals showed great interest. Another student’s performance the spectators particularly liked was Abdulkadir from Tanzania, who sang a traditional Turkish song extremely well. Following his performance, he kissed the hand of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who also watched Abdulkadir’s performance with great interest. In return, Davutoğlu kissed him on the cheeks.
Getting on the stage with Abdulkadir, Davutoğlu expressed his gratitude for the efforts of teachers in international Turkish schools. Addressing those teachers as “my colleagues,” Davutoğlu said: “You have brought love and affection to children from around the world regardless of their nationality, race, language and religion. You have used your energy to create a new generation of peace in the globe. Therefore, we cannot thank you enough for all your efforts. God bless you.”
Davutoğlu thanked all the people who organized and contributed to these activities as part of the Olympiad as well as the esteemed Hocaefendi, Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, for his inspiration and contribution to the organization.
“There are still many things to do. There are still many students waiting for us. We will reach those students too with our messages of compassion, love and tolerance,” he noted.
Two other Turkish Language Olympiad events that took place on Monday night were held in Bursa and Samsun. 65 students from 25 countries presented various performances, from folkloric dances to poetry reading, in Bursa’s Atatürk Stadium with the attendance of about 30,000 locals as well as Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç. The presenters of the show were actor Kadir Çöpdemir and an Albanian student.
Speaking at the event, Arınç said: “There was not a single school abroad providing education in Turkish 20 years ago but now we have hundreds of them. More than 300,000 students have learned Turkish in these schools in 135 countries. There are 193 UN member countries and we have schools in 135 of them. This alone is a fascinating development. However, seeing these students giving such spectacular performances here makes it even more fascinating.” He further said that if someone had closed their eyes and listened to the students’ songs, they would have thought the singers were all Turkish and congratulated the students on their success. “We have many people to thank. But we owe special thanks to the one who is behind all of these great works with his inspiration, support and dedication, and that is Fethullah Gülen.”
Meanwhile, Samsun saw the performances of 60 students from 18 countries with nearly 20,000 attendees. Getting onto the stage at the end of the event, Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç sang a song called “A New World” together with the 60 students. The minister also noted that Turkish is not regarded as just another language by these people; it is regarded as the language of peace and brotherhood. Another speaker at the event, Samsun Mayor Yusuf Ziya Yılmaz, said: “What we are watching tonight is beyond just a show; it has a deeper meaning. While the Syrian people are killing each other so close to our lands, we are here celebrating humanity, fraternity and love. How beautiful that is!”
Published on Today's Zaman, 05 June 2012, Tuesday