Students from around the world staged performances on Saturday, fascinating people at a Şanlıurfa festival that was held as part of the 10th Turkish Language Olympiad, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established around the world.
A group of African students perform Turkish folk dances in local clothes in Şanlıurfa, which hosted international students as part of the ongoing 10th International Turkish Olympiad at the 11 Nisan Stadium on Saturday. (Photo: Today's Zaman)
The Şanlıurfa festival took place at the 11 Nisan Stadium, with over 10,000 attendees. Sixty international students from 16 countries performed at the GAP festival.
A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Turkish Language Olympiad, which is organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). This year's competition, which will run from May 30 to 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 Olympiad is “İnsanlık için el ele” (Hand-in-hand for humanity).
Inspired by the theme, the world's children came together at the Şanlıurfa festival and recited poems, sang southeastern folk songs and performed folk dances. Apart from the folk songs in the forms of uzun hava (long melody), the students also sang songs in Kurdish in Şanlıurfa, a predominantly Kurdish city.
Nadın from Gabon sang one of the most popular Kurdish folk songs, “Şemmame,” a performance Şanlıurfa locals showed great interest in. Before going on stage, the girl greeted the audience in Kurdish, which was welcomed by the spectators. Nadın was accompanied by a group of international students dancing a folk dance peculiar to Şemmame.
Another student the spectators showed great interest in was Hardvast from northern Iraq. He also sang a Kurdish song, “Rındamın” (My beauty). Egyptian student Muhammed, who sang an Arabic song, and Kyrgyz Zhyrgalbak, who sang a Black Sea song, “Hayde Gidelum” (Let's Go), were other students the spectators loved.
Speaking at the end of the festival, Labor and Social Security Minister Faruk Çelik said the Turkish Olympiad, which was first held with the participation of 62 students from 17 countries 10 years ago, is currently being held with the participation of 1,500 international students from 135 countries and thanked all the people who contributed to the event. Stating that this event takes place in 41 Turkish provinces, Çelik said hard work was put into it and that its success is a result of patience. “Who lit the first torch for this Olympiad? I send my greetings to the esteemed Hocaefendi [Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen], who lit the first torch for the Olympiad with intentions of promoting brotherhood and peace around the world.”
Expressing his gratitude for the efforts of teachers in international Turkish schools, Çelik thanked those teachers for their efforts.
Residents of Şanlıurfa embraced students from various parts of the world with affection.
Tuba Avcı, who spoke to Today's Zaman, said bringing together such a large number of people from around the world to participate in this event is unbelievable and spectacular. “Nowadays, even parents have difficulties bringing together their children in one place, but there are 1,500 students from 135 countries who are brought together to participate in the Turkish Olympiad. This success is a result of being well-intentioned. If the organization did not have good intentions, such great success could not have been accomplished,” Avcı noted. Avcı further stated that when she watches the performances of the international students, she feels as though the students were not from another country.
Ayşegül Ateş, whose husband was also one of the teachers serving at international Turkish schools, told Today's Zaman that she really appreciates the Turkish Olympiads because they introduce the Turkish culture and language to the world
Stating that her husband had served in Azerbaijan and Albania before he got married with her, Ateş said that although 15 years have passed since her husband returned to Turkey, his students from Azerbaijan still call him.
Gülten Bakır said she was excited to see foreign children from around the world singing in her language. Bakır stated that the international students from 135 countries teach the world a good lesson.
Ayşe Dağlı told Today's Zaman that the Turkish Language Olympiad is a very effective event in terms of promoting Turkish culture to the world and said she feels very proud of seeing international students from various parts of the world singing Turkish songs, reciting Turkish poems and dancing Turkish folk dances.
Each year about 15,000 students from around the world prepare for the event and these students face fierce competition in their home countries in order to come to Turkey for the Olympiad. The official bodies of each country select the best students to represent them at the Olympiad.
On Saturday, Ankara also experienced the joy of the Turkish Olympiad, with around 50,000 people filling the 19 Mayıs Stadium to watch the performances of international students.
Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç and Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek were also in attendance.
Minister Kılıç noted that the children not only learn Turkish but also the language of love and thanked everyone who contributed to the event.
Drawing attention to the interest of people in the event, Gökçek said: “This is the largest crowd 19 Mayıs Stadium has seen so far,” and promised the construction of a larger stadium for Ankara.
The western province of Kütahya was also a venue of a show held as part of the Turkish Olympiad on Saturday. A large crowd listened to international students sing songs and recite poems in Turkish.
Diyarbakır residents experience excitement of Olympiad
Tens of thousands of people filled the Atatürk Stadium in Diyarbakır, another southeastern province, on Friday night for a show held as part of the ongoing Turkish Language Olympiad.
The 20,000-person capacity stadium was full and some people followed the event standing. The event was broadcast live on Dünya TV.
Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Diyarbakır deputies, Diyarbakır Governor Mustafa Toprak and many other dignitaries were among the attendees.
The students delighted the audience with their performances in Turkish and Kurdish.
Eker, who delivered a speech at the event, likened the Turkish Olympiad to the journey of civilization.
“Architects of heart exert strong efforts in this holy journey. We are grateful to those who dedicate their lives to such a civilization of love,” he said.
The event was also presented in Kurdish by Mehdi Mutlu, a presenter at Dünya TV, while the Turkish broadcast was undertaken by Ramazan Şimşek.
The audience burst into applause when Mutlu and Şimşek recited a famous poem by Cahit Sıtkı Tarancı, a poet from Diyarbakır, titled “I want a country,” both in Turkish and Kurdish.
In the meantime, the Postal and Telecommunications General Directorate (PTT) printed stamps to commemorate the 10th International Turkish Language Olympiad.
PTT General Manager Osman Tural said the Turkish Olympiad contributes greatly to the promotion of Turkish, adding that the PTT is happy to honor this event with commemorative stamps.
Published on Sunday's Zaman, 03 June 2012, Sunday