The world is shrinking but Turkish is getting bigger

You are on your way to Ethiopia and opposite you some people are speaking Turkish. it happens in Kenya, too… And in Japan. Why? Because as the world is getting smaller, Turkish is expanding.

Organized by the International Turkish Education Organization (TÜRKÇEDER) with Turkish Airlines sponsorship, the International Turkish Olympiad started on May 30 in this, its 10th year. Exactly 1,500 students from 135 countries and seven continents have come to Turkey to compete in the event, which runs through June 14. With shows and performances at 65 theaters in a total of 41 provinces, mainly Istanbul and Ankara, this year’s olympiad is focused on the theme “Hand in Hand for Humanity”.

Starting out in 2003 with 62 students from 17 countries, the Turkish Olympiad is an occasion not only for spreading Turkish and keeping it alive but also for forging friendships for the future by bringing together young people from different parts of the world. Around 15,000 students around the globe prepare for the Turkish Olympiad every year. Each country holds it own competitions to select the finalists, who are then sent to compete in Turkey. These world children compete in 20 different categories, including speaking, writing, linguistics, singing, poetry, intonation, recitation, general culture, presentation, special talent, painting, folk dancing, essay and country promotion stand. Additional competitions such as composition, poetry and general culture are organized for students whose native language is Turkish but who live abroad.  Indeed, there are even competitions for teachers who teach Turkish to the world.

The Turkish Olympiad, a civil society organization, is an event that contributes to strengthening Turkey and the Turkish language in the international arena. According to Mehmet Sağlam, Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the International Turkish Olympiad, the goal for now, and the best plan for the future, is to wave the Turkish language flag in the 193 United Nations member-countries.

Turkish Schools Behind The Olympiads
That’s the small picture. The big picture is the Turkish Schools that are making the voice of Anatolia, Turkey and Turkish heard around the world. These Turkish Schools, the first of which opened in Nahchevan in 1991, have been operating in 140 countries on the seven continents for 20 years. Their primary intention is to make Turkish a world language, but their contributions to world peace as well as the Turkish economy cannot be denied.

As Mehmet Büyükekşi, President of the Turkish Exporters’ Association (TIM), puts it: “The real contribution of the Turkish Schools is for businessmen because the schools provide them with their initial contacts in places like Africa and the countries of the Far East that Turks were not in the habit of visiting or had not even heard of.” Hikmet Tanriverdi, President of the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Association (İTKİB), cites an apt example: “I went abroad in 1989 for my first contacts outside the country. It took me 15 difficult days to complete my business in the Far Eastern country where I went that time. Later on, however, people going there from Turkey were able to do business boldly and confidently thanks to the schools, and the young Turkish kids and teachers.”

Istanbul Culture Fest
The Culture Fest, which has welcomed tens of thousands of people at Ankara Altınpark for nine years, is being held at Istanbul in the olympiad’s 10th year. With 135 countries taking part, the fest, June 1 to 3, is at Yeşilköy Istanbul Fair Center (IFM). Each country will have an opportunity to promote its own culture, dress, cuisine and music at the Culture Fest. The country whose stand best represents its historical, touristic and artistic richness will win the Gold Medal in the Country Promotional Stand Competition.

What They Are Saying
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Prime Minister): “Everywhere I go I see our flag flying at the Turkish Schools and I feel very proud.”

Ban Ki-moon (United Nations Secretary-General):
“Turkey has earned the right to make its voice heard on issues of global importance, and the Turkish schools have contributed importantly to that.”

Hamid Karzai (President of Afghanistan): “Volunteer teachers from our friend and brother country Turkey are preparing Afghan young people for the future in the best way possible using modern, scientific means.”

Juniciro Koizumi (Former Japanese Prime Minister): “The Turkish schools and educational activities in Japan have a very important place in Turkey-Japan relations, and they should definitely be developed.”

Kalonzo Musyoka (Vice-President of Kenya): “The Turkish schools and their teachers are one of the main factors in the rapid development of Turkey’s relations with Africa.”

Program Of The 10th International Turkish Olympiad
May 30 Opening Ceremony / Four Seasons Hotel, Beşiktaş
June 1 Open Air Concert / Taksim Square
June 1-3 Culture Fest / Istanbul Fair Center
June 5 Singing Final / Ataköv Sinan Erdem Dome
June 6 Poetry Final / Ankara Arena Indoor Sports Hall
June 9 Awards Ceremony / Ankara Arena Indoor Sports Hall
June 14 Closing Ceremony / Turk Telekom Arena
June 16 Sufi Concert / Ülker Sports Arena