Another successful Turkish Olympiads ends on a high note
03 July 2011, Sunday / ESRA MADEN, İSTANBUL TODAY’S ZAMAN
For 15 days, 1,000 children from 130 countries
across the world came to Turkey as part of the Turkish Olympiads. They made appearances in 24 Turkish cities from East to West, where the students mixed with each other and local people in the places they visited. The Olympiads was a perfect opportunity to bring children and youth from around the world together for the ultimate goal of contributing to world peace as the language of Turkish played the central role by being the language of communication for the participants.
Themed after Yunus Emre’s famous call, “Come and let’s get acquainted,” the Olympiads were held by a civil society organization, the International Turkish Education Association (TÜRKÇEDER). While 62 students from 17 countries took part in the first Turkish Olympiads in 2003, the number of participants grew every year and the latest number of participants in the event reached an all-time high with 1000 students.
Whilst those who had won a place to take part in the competitions after elimination rounds held in their native countries participated in the contests in İstanbul and Ankara, hundreds of other children toured the country, delighting audiences with a variety of performances, which were no less in quality than professional performing artists.
Talented performers, outstanding art director
The students, who mesmerized the audiences with their performances had practiced for eight months prior to their appearances in Turkey. Behind the shows that amazed audiences is art director Cemil Özen, a choreographer and former dancer of the Anadolu Ateşi (Fire of Anatolia). Özen is proud of having been part of such a project and thinks that it is the highest level he can reach in his career. He said the students got tired but they never complained.
“They acted like stars during the 15 days. There were hundreds of thousands of spectators in front of them. A student, who came from a country with a population of 500,000, went before as many audiences as his country’s population just in two weeks. It is a big deal for that student. Even though they got tired, they didn’t complain. They left with tears,” he told Sunday’s Zaman. Özen said the students learned fast and that their performances were almost as good as professionals. “They focus very well. These students manage to master some moves in a short time. Even professionals sometimes have difficulty performing these moves. If I say that I didn’t ever hesitate about whether or not they would be able to succeed, I would be lying,” he adds.
İstanbul’s Haliç Convention Center hosted two main events of the 9th Turkish Language Olympiads, the song final and the poetry final. The coveted song contest was won by a student from Tajikistan, while a Georgian student won the poetry prize.
High-profile visitors at events
Kicked off by a spectacular opening at İstanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace on June 15, the Olympiads was wrapped up on Thursday night with a ceremony that was as glorious as the opening. During these 15 days, Turkey embraced the Olympiad students. Each event held as part of the Olympiads also attracted a large number of high-profile personalities -- including ministers, deputies, artists, businessmen and media representatives.
“Turkish is not the language of anger, hatred, grudge or enmity; it’s the language of tolerance and love,” said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the closing ceremony, saluting the guests and the Olympiad participants from all over the world. “I give my thanks to all students who have added their voices, breaths, colors and melodies to our beautiful Turkish and for making us experience such excitement and joy,” he added.