Students from around the world who traveled to Turkey to attend the 10th International Turkish Language Olympiad say they very much enjoyed attending the event and touring Turkey during their visit. The Olympiad, which brings together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established throughout the world, is organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). The Olympiad was held between May 30 and June 14 in various cities around Turkey, but predominantly in Ankara and İstanbul.
A total of 1,500 students from 135 countries performed on 65 stages across the nation this year. Participants say they have thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Turkey and are happy to have attended the Turkish Olympiad this year.
Turkmenistan’s Ruslan Annamammedov (12), who won the most prestigious medal in the singing competition on June 5 at Sinan Erdem Arena, told Today’s Zaman that the Turkish people had embraced Olympiad participants with affection. Annamammedov added that two Turkish families had hosted him, along with a group of fellow students, in their homes. “They prepared splendid dining tables for us, they treated us very kindly and they showed us true hospitality. We stayed in luxurious hotels and ate the most delicious food during the Olympiad in Turkey. The food that I liked most is mercimek çorbası (traditional lentil soup),” the talented young singer noted.
Annamammedov explained that he comes from a family of singers, and that his brother, Devran Annamammedov, was awarded first place at the 8th International Turkish Olympiad in 2010. “My father and grandfather are singers. When I won the competition they felt proud of me. They always trusted me, so by winning the competition I didn’t disappoint them,” he said.
Arsalan Naseer (16) of Pakistan, whose voice has been compared to that of Kurdish singer and composer Ahmet Kaya -- who died in Paris in November 2000 -- hit the headlines during the two-week Olympiad event. Naseer told Today’s Zaman that Turkish people had showed great interest in him during the Olympiad period, which made him happy.
Stating that he didn’t know who Kaya was before the Olympiad, Naseer researched Kaya after seeing the reactions of audiences to his voice, recounting, “The media showed great interest in me. Many TV channels called me to be on TV shows.”
Naseer further expressed that he liked Turkey and Turkish people very much, and that he had realized the affection of Turks for the Pakistani people during his tour of Turkey; he is pleased to have visited the country.
Selvi Ilyasova (15) of Turkmenistan, one of the students in which the Turkish people showed great interest during the Olympiad, told Today’s Zaman that the students had met with great friendliness in Turkey, recalling: “When we went to Erzurum on June 11 people welcomed us with flowers at the airport, which moved us to tears. We didn’t expect such great interest from the people of Erzurum.”
Stating that she is a fan of a character named Yiğit from the TV series “Kollama” (Patronage), which airs on STV, Ilyasova added that she had been a bit disappointed not to have met the actor while in Turkey. Munir Abdu Thabit (15) of Tanzania sang a song by one of Turkey’s favorite pop singers, Tarkan, in the Olympiad. Thabit explained to Today’s Zaman that his father registered him in a Turkish school as it offered the highest-quality education in Tanzania. “Turkish people looked after us very well and the food was delicious. We stayed at fancy hotels. I ate kebap and baklava [a multilayered, flaky pastry with walnuts, pistachios and syrup] in Gaziantep. Those were very delicious,” Thabit said.
Asked why he chose to perform a song made famous by Tarkan, Thabit replied that he selected the song, “Dudu dudu,” because he understood the love Turkish people have of pop, and because Tarkan is a famed singer in Turkey. Noting that he had made many friends around the country during his visit, Thabit expressed his gratitude to all the people he had encountered during the tour.
Ema Lluka (15) from Kosovo, who sang the song “Söz Vermiştin Bana” (You Promised Me), told Today’s Zaman that she is very excited to have been in Turkey and to have been a part of such a major event. “When I came here my first impression of Turkey was the kindness of Turkish people. We stayed in luxurious places and ate traditional Turkish food. I can say that Turkish food is the most delicious in the world. It was a great event in which we met many kids from other countries. I would like to have a chance to come here again,” Lluka noted.
The budding singer also sent thanks to her Turkish teacher, who Lluka says worked hard to teach her Turkish.
Similarly, Setou Diaby (14) of Mali said she is delighted to have participated in the Turkish Olympiad, adding that people of Turkey are kind and that Turkey is a beautiful country.
The Olympiad includes some categories in which Turkish students living in foreign countries are eligible to compete. One such student, M. Ertuğrul Türken (16), who was born and currently lives in Germany, told Today’s Zaman that he recited a Turkish poem in the Olympiad. “It was an interesting feeling to return to your hometown, where you no longer live. The Turkish people show a great interest to Turkish Olympiad students. However, they show more interest in foreign students than they show in expat students,” Türken observed.
Türken went on to say that upon visiting the earthquake-hit province of Van the participants were deeply touched by their contact with victims of the disaster, many of whom are living in prefabricated houses, elaborating, “We felt very happy to see that the quake victims had a great time with our performances [during the Van festival, which was held as part of the 10th International Turkish Olympiads four days ago].”
Published on Today's Zaman, 15 June 2012, Friday