May 6, 2015

White House courts int’l students as language festival concludes in DC

White House has hosted international students who has been in Washington for over two weeks as part of the International Language and Culture Festival as the festivities had come to an end with a mini performance at the White House for US officials.

International Language a

The visit to the White House was part of the festival's one of many legs in the nation's capital in the past two weeks. Before the White House, the students delighted Washingtonians in landmark performances outside the White House in an outdoor gig, in Warner Theatre and at the US Congress. Washington hosted students only from 20 nations out of 150 countries that participated in the entire festival. At least 2,500 students performed in stages across the world as part of the festival.

International Language and Culture Festival, Washington DC

In Tuesday's visit, White House officials guided the students to tour the office in what the youth said "life-time experience" and explained them how they work daily. Ayhan Halili from Azerbaijan, one of the most talented students from Azerbaijan, sang a Turkish folk music for the officials at the White House.

Emre Çelik, president of Rumi Forum, a Washington-based group that is one of the co-sponsors of the event in Washington, said the White House officials wanted to brief the students about their work and that students as well as their teachers are "very excited" for the opportunity.

The students, with their traditional national attire on, made a mini performance for the White House officials during their visit.

In what could be characterized as one of the largest events held by Turkish Americans every year in the US, the International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC) is the new form of what was popularly known as the Turkish Olympiads and is celebrated in major capitals around the world, from Manila to Cape Town.

After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a massive offensive against the Gülen movement following a corruption scandal in December of 2013, he has publicly said he will not allow the movement to hold its flagship Turkish Olympiads festivities that feature month-long activities across Turkey with students from more than a hundred countries. The ban in Turkey forced the organizers to expand their activities elsewhere and organize more than a dozen similar ceremonies in many parts of the world. The organizing committee earlier similar festivals would be held in 18 countries throughout April and May.

Kenan Zukorlich, who is responsible for a team from Serbia, has expressed his delight for the 12-day opportunity to visit and perform in Washington. He added that both the organizers and the students are pleased over how they were treated and met by the hosts.

Published on Today's Zaman, 06 May 2015, Wednesday