June 30, 2014

Students bid farewell with hopes of meeting next year

There was a flood of tears after the closing ceremonies held in the 12,500-person-capacity ISS Dome in Dusseldorf. Hugging fiercely, students comforted one another with the words, “See you next year.”

The 12th annual International Language and Culture Festival (also known as the Turkish Olympiad), which unfolded this year outside the borders of Turkey, came to an end recently with a grand closing ceremony in the German city of Dusseldorf. After 20 days of song, poetry and dance, it was time for these young people who put so much effort into learning Turkish to bid farewell to one another.

Albanian Anita Syla, who took a first place with her rendition of the song “Firuze,” said: “The best moments of my life happened here. It is here that a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood has been perfected for us. And now, parting is so difficult. But we will all see each other again.”

Speaking about the time she spent in a camp in the town of Paderborn, Syla said: “We shared meals with different ‘brothers and sisters' there. It brought us so close together, like real brothers and sisters. And now, leaving is so difficult.”

While some of these 192 students are heading back home to their native countries, some of them are heading to various cities in Germany to participate in further programs until June 26.

Filipina Graciella Estrella hugged her singer friend, Georgian Irina Khechanovi, for a long time when it came time to part. “It is so hard leaving her and my other friends behind. We were like sisters here, I love her so much,” Estrella said. Another student, Kazakh Osman Sarmadiyar, read the poem “Onden Giden Atlilar” with Madagascar citizen Robenora Andranin. Noting that the two made a great pair of friends, Sarmadiyar said: “It's going to be so hard to leave this friend of mine behind. We were a great duo. But it is time to leave now. We are planning to all meet again.”

It was also time to go for 24 Azeri students who together with some new friends from South Africa and showed off some folk dancing. The only wish expressed by the Azeri students as they hugged their newfound friends was that they could all see one another again.

Nevruz Zrebunov, from Tajikistan, read the piece “Hicran ve Ümit” in the contest, and noted that for him, it was the feeling of friendship that permeated this year's event that affected him the most. Teacher Yücel Özyaşar said: “It was such a great atmosphere. Students from all over the world came together, got to know each other. It was really inspiring to see so many people from all over the world together. And of course, the partings are the most difficult for the students.”

Published on Today's Zaman, 30 June 2014, Monday