The name Dadaş is commonly used for people living in Erzurum.
A total of 1,500 foreign students from 135 countries came to Turkey for the Turkish Language Olympiad, which was organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER), an event bringing together hundreds of foreign students each year from Turkish schools established around the world. This year's competition, which began on May 30 and will continue through June 14, has been held predominantly in Ankara and İstanbul, with activities in 41 other Turkish cities.
The Erzurum Festival took place at the New Erzurum Stadium and drew over 25,000 attendees. Eighty international students from 12 countries performed at the event.
The festival kicked off with the performance of a folk dance from Ankara, “Misket,” by an Australian group. Spectators showed great interest in the performance.
Minister of Health Recep Akdağ, whose hometown is Erzurum, attended the festival for a short time as he had to return to Ankara in order to fly to Paris, where the first representations for İzmir's candidacy to EXPO 2020 will be made.
Addressing his fellow townspeople, Akdağ said that students from around the world with hearts full of love and brotherhood had come together on fresh ground that night. Stating that Turkish culture and language are spreading around the world with the help of the international Turkish Olympiad, Akdağ sent his gratitude and respect to everybody who had contributed to the event. “I hope such meetings will foster greater brotherhood and solidarity in the world,” Akdağ noted. Following his speech, Akdağ left the festival to fly to Ankara.
The festival continued with a Turkish poem read by Fabiana from Venezuela, but the student who most captured the imagination of the audience was Selvi Ilyasova of Turkmenistan, who sang the popular Turkish song “Bir Tesselli Ver” (“Give Me a Cheer”).
The folk dancing, performed jointly by students from Texas and Senegal, fascinated the audience towards the end of the night. Governor of Erzurum Sebahattin Öztürk and Mayor of Erzurum Ahmet Küçükler presented plaques to businesspeople providing sponsorship to the event.
Erzurumites embraced the Turkish Olympiad participants with affection. Several families have hosted Olympiad students in their homes and offered Turkish hospitality to their guests, hailing from various parts of the world, and have presented gifts to Olympiad students.
Erzurumite Esra Yılmaz told Today's Zaman that the Turkish Olympiad is a wonderful initiative. Emphasizing the importance of Turkish schools in the promotion of Turkey and its language internationally, Yılmaz went on to say that many nations had never even heard of Turkey before the establishment of Turkish schools abroad, but that now an increasing number of people around the world were acquainted with Turkish culture through these schools, as well as the Turkish Olympiad.
Other provinces hosted Olympiad events on Monday night, including Kırklareli, Kocaeli, Gaziantep, Sivas, Van and Muğla, featuring various performances from poetry to folkloric dances. Kurdish songs performed by Kenyan, Indonesian and Kyrgyz students in the southeastern province of Van fascinated the audience, encouraging them to sing the songs together. International students in Gaziantep visited Zirve University prior to their show and were welcomed by the university's rector, Adnan Kısa, in his office, where they presented mini-shows and earned Kısa's appreciation and congratulations.