Turkmenistan's Ruslan Annamammedov won the most prestigious medal for singing at the Turkish Language Olympiad on Tuesday night before a crowd of tens of thousands in İstanbul, beating competitors from 135 countries.
The Turkmen student delighted jury members with the song “Gülüm Benim” in the singing competition of the 10th Turkish Language Olympiad and received his award from Turkish EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış and singer Kayahan. Annamammedov then performed the winning song once again in front of a cheering audience. Azerbaijan's Sema Sultanova, dressed in traditional Azerbaijani attire, came in second with the slow song “Gönül Yarası.”
Indonesia’s Patton Otlivio Latupeirissa was in third place with “Anadolu Türküsü.” After the award ceremony, jury members and contestants flocked to the stage to sing a traditional Turkish Olympiad song, sending out messages of peace and tolerance.
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 began on May 30 and ends on June 14, will predominantly be held in Ankara and İstanbul, but there are also activities in 41 other Turkish cities.
Among the 15,000 attendees of the event were a number of well-known figures from politics, the arts, business and the world of sport. Minister Bağış said the event indicates future generations and world leaders will all be the friends of Turks. “I thank those people working in institutions teaching the Turkish language, the mastermind of this mission and all the teachers who dedicate their lives to this mission of representing our culture in the best way possible.”
Singer Kayahan said: “We are trying very hard to teach foreign languages to our children that we almost make them forget Turkish. I think this event has particular importance in this sense.”
Speaking at the event, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay noted that those who love their countries the most are the ones who serve their countries the most. “And I believe the teachers teaching such good Turkish to their students and preparing such a wonderful show in the Turkish language are true patriots,” he added.
Journalist Mehmet Ali Birand said the name of this organization should be “A feast of the Turkish language.” “These people have dreamed of a thing no one could ever have thought possible and made it come true. Back then, we questioned the credibility of these schools. It was a big mistake. These schools have turned out to be brilliant and productive Turkish projects. We have to embrace these schools,” Birand said.
Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı said: “Watching tonight’s show made me think of a quotation, ‘To make your dreams come true, you have to stay awake.’ We are all seeing a wonderful dream tonight in which people of different colors and religions live in harmony and see one another as brothers. I congratulate those striving to make this dream come true.”
Musician Semih Erdoğan said this event is the best way to demonstrate who we are to other nations and that this is a big step toward world peace.
Kazakh singer Anjelika Akbar said she fell in love with the Turkish language when she heard it, and now she is seeing the same love in the Olympiad students’ eyes.
Galatasaray football club board member Abdürrahim Albayrak said: “These students studying the Turkish language are going to end up in high positions and they will continue to speak Turkish and be friends with Turks. We have to be aware of how important this is.”
“We bring 650 students from 40 countries every year for April 23 [National Sovereignty and Children’s Day] activities. But none of them speak Turkish. What we see in this event is much more moving in the sense that it symbolizes peace and fraternity. We owe endless thanks to those contributing to this organization,” said Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) President İbrahim Şahin.
Meanwhile, other events for the Turkish Language Olympiad took place in Tokat, Balıkesir and Kahramanmaraş on Tuesday. Locals in each province showed great interest in the events both enjoying the performances and also hearing how well the foreign performers had learned Turkish.
Sixty students from 20 countries were in Tokat, presenting various performances to a 30,000-strong crowd. Well-organized folkloric dances marked the event, receiving much applause. At the end of the night, all the students got onto the stage and sang together a song called “Yeni Bir Dünya” (A New World).
Seventy-five students from 15 countries staged their performances in Kahramanmaraş’s Hanefi Mahçiçek Stadium. Speaking at the event, Deputy Parliament Speaker Mehmet Sağlam thanked the “heroes of the event” for coming up with the aim of making Turkish a universal language and for being so successful in this aim.
A two-hour-long show took place in Balıkesir by 65 students from 28 countries to an audience of 50,000 people. Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Ali Aydınlıoğlu spoke at the event, saying that at a time when it is already too difficult to win a person’s heart, devoted teachers have won hundreds of hearts abroad. “We felt every kind of emotion with the songs sung and poems read tonight; but one emotion remains stable and that is appreciation. I appreciate the devotion of these students and their teachers,” he said.