Turkish-Islamic scholar and intellectual Fethullah Gülen has said the success of the 10th International Turkish Olympiad belongs to the entire Turkish nation -- and not to a single community or group -- because of the huge support it lent to the massive event.
“Behind it [the Turkish Olympiad] stands our beloved nation, which has stood as an example to the entire world with its generosity throughout history. For this reason, the success belongs to the [Turkish] nation; it would not be right to associate the success with a community or group,” Gülen said in a recording broadcast on the herkul.org website on Tuesday. Gülen's remarks came as a response to the accolades the Hizmet movement -- inspired by Gülen's teachings -- received from various circles for the success of the 10th International Turkish Olympiad, which held its closing ceremony last week. Around 1,500 students studying at Turkish schools in 135 countries participated in the Olympiad, mesmerizing audiences with their outstanding performances of Turkish poetry and song.
The scholar also praised teachers working at Turkish schools around the world for their efforts in teaching the students in the best way possible and helping to organize the Olympiad. He said, “Some people say the success of the Olympiad belongs to those people or others or directly to me. I might have made suggestions to people [members of the Hizmet movement] to go to one country or another [to open Turkish schools there]. I do not remember now whom I told to go where. But this is not something to be praised. What is worth praising is the readiness of those people to take their suitcases and hit the road whenever they were told to go to a country and serve [the people] there. I kiss all those friends on their forehead. Those friends left for unknown places and served the people there without even knowing how they would survive because they did not receive salaries for six months or even a year.”
Gülen is highly respected both in Turkey and in many countries around the world for the educational initiatives he has pioneered, along with his efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the globe. The Turkish Olympiads are an initiative of the schools associated with the Hizmet movement.
According to Gülen, teachers working in Turkish schools do not only teach Turkish to their students but they also take the affection of the Turkish nation to the places they travel. “They hug everyone, and help people who live in misery to recover. They do not leave the students who quit school to their misery, they try over and over again to rehabilitate them,” he stated, and added that the teachers do not expect anyone to congratulate them for their services. Gülen defined the teachers as “anonymous heroes of the Turkish Olympiads.” “Even though people show gratitude and applaud them [for their services], those teachers do not expect to be congratulated. If they do, their efforts and activities will not be promising for the future.”
Gülen also said the Turkish Olympiad is not solely a means to teach Turkish to foreign students but is also a unique opportunity to introduce the Turkish culture to the entire world. The best side of the Olympiad, for Gülen, is to see that foreign students learn Turkish with their own will but not by force as colonialist nations did in several other countries in the past. The scholar also stated that he was unable to hold his tears when he saw pictures of young participants of the 10th International Turkish Olympiad hugging one another and shedding tears due to the sorrow of seeing the end of the event and a return to their own countries. “I burst into tears when I saw the pictures of the students leaving Turkey. They came from different parts of the world, became friends, and developed very strong ties during the 15-day period they spent in Turkey. They shed tears when the time came to return to their own countries. I was deeply touched to see them so,” Gülen stated.
The performances of students studying at Turkish schools around the globe who traveled to several provinces across Turkey for the 10th Turkish Olympiad were watched by millions of people in slightly over two weeks. The students arrived in Turkey in late May to enchant audiences with their fabulous shows. Organizers from the Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER) divided the students up into large groups and sent them to various locations across the country to perform for enthusiastic audiences.
Gülen also praised other religious groups and communities in Turkey for their efforts to spread goodness to all corners of the country and the world. He said those communities would go ahead with the activities of the Hizmet movement if the movement happens to see a halt in its activities in the future.