Turkey embraces Turkish Olympiads' students with open arms

An Indian student coming to Turkey as part of the 8th International Turkish Language Olympiads gave Prime Minister Erdoğan a charcoal portrait she drew.

June 11, 2010, Friday/ 16:59:00
This year's International Turkish Language Olympiads ended on a high note as the country embraced the 750 participants from 120 countries with open arms during a star-studded closing ceremony in İstanbul on Wednesday.

“Every language in the world is beautiful; however, I want to salute these 750 students who came to Turkey from 120 countries as part of the International Turkish Language Olympiads, promoting peace,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who attended the final ceremony of the 8th International Turkish Language Olympiads, held at İstanbul's Sinan Erdem Sports Hall on Wednesday.

The closing ceremony of the eighth annual International Turkish Language Olympiads was held on Wednesday with thousands of guests, including top state officials, in attendance. As part of the event, various programs including song and folk dance performances took place across Turkey

The International Turkish Language Olympiads, a contest held annually since 2003 and now in its eighth year, ended with the attendance of thousands of guests, including top state officials.

Organized by the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER), the International Turkish Language Olympiads bring hundreds of foreign students from Turkish schools throughout the world to Turkey every year. Only 17 countries participated in the first International Turkish Language Olympiads in 2003. The 8th International Turkish Language Olympiads started with a spectacular ceremony at İstanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace on May 26. As part of the event, various programs including song and folk dance performances were held across Turkey.

Some 750 students from 120 countries participated in the International Turkish Language Olympiads in İstanbul’s Sinan Erdem Sports Hall on Wednesday.

The final ceremony was attended by Erdoğan and his wife, Emine Erdoğan, Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, Family and Women’s Affairs Minister Selma Aliye Kavaf, İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş, İstanbul’s new Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu, International Turkish Language Olympiads organizing committee Chairman Mehmet Sağlam, Zaman daily Editor-in-Chief Ekrem Dumanlı, Habertürk daily Editor-in-Chief Fatih Altaylı and Akşam daily Editor-in-Chief İsmail Küçükkaya as well as many prominent figures from business and the arts. In addition, the event was watched by millions of people worldwide as it was aired live by the Mehtap and Samanyolu television stations.

The final ceremony, emceed by famous television personality Kadir Çöpdemir and a Moldovan student who learned Turkish at a Turkish school in Moldova, started with the Turkish national anthem.

Giving an opening speech at the event, Sağlam noted that the primary aim of the Turkish Olympiads is to associate Turkish as a language of peace. Thanking the students’ parents and teachers, Sağlam also conveyed his best regards to the people who have continuously given financial support to help establish Turkish schools throughout the world.

Former  footballer Hakan Şükür and football coach Bülent Uygun pose with students.

Erdoğan later gave a speech at the event. Mentioning children killed in Gaza by Israeli troops, Erdoğan gave messages of friendship and peace, referring to famous quotes by Turkish poet and Sufi mystic Yunus Emre, Sufi saint and poet Rumi, poet Nazım Hikmet and Islamic scholar Said Nursi.

“A number of devoted people [teachers working at Turkish schools] have gone to various foreign countries, far from Turkey, leaving their mothers, fathers, other loved ones and hometowns. They do not avoid any difficulties that might occur while they are abroad. They are all carriers of the Turkish flag. I take pride when I see a Turkish flag at the Turkish schools established in various countries and a child speaking Turkish,” said Erdoğan, sending his warm wishes to the teachers who work at the Turkish schools. Erdoğan underlined that to serve for the sake of humanism, education, friendship and peace is the biggest service that can be done in the world.

During the 15-day event, the International Turkish Language Olympiads organized cultural festivals in 14 of Turkey’s provinces -- İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Konya, Antalya, Erzurum, Gaziantep, İzmir, Trabzon, Kayseri, Kahramanmaraş, Malatya, Manisa and Samsun -- in which locals flocked to see hundreds of foreign students promote their countries to Turkish people with their traditional costumes and foods.

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