|American students competed in Turkish songs, poetry and folk dancing at the 3rd Turkish Olympiad finals held in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The event was attended by Turkey’s Ambassador to the US Namık Tan and Senator Chap Petersen.|
American and Turkish students put their knowledge of Turkish cinema, song, dance, poetry and culture on show at the 3rd Turkish Olympiad finals held in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
The event, organized by the American Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) and the Mid-Atlantic Federation of Turkic American Associations (MAFTAA), brought together American and Turkish crowds in the US capital. Attended by Turkey’s Ambassador to the United States Namık Tan and Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen, the event saw students ranging from 12-18 years of age selected as finalists from seven states surrounding Washington compete in categories of song, poetry and folk dancing.
With students performing traditional tunes from Adana, Burdur and the Black Sea, the sound of the Turkish kemençe and the rhythmic tunes of the Black Sea region were awarded first place. Yeşilçam (Green Pine) Turkish Cinema also made an appearance at the Olympiads, with two American students enacting a famous comedic scene from a film of the seminal era.
Referring to his recent 10-day trip to Turkey, Senator Petersen said he attended the event wearing shoes that he had purchased from İstanbul’s Grand Bazaar and described the importance of such events in bringing people together. He added that Turkey and the state of Virginia were very similar in terms of their natural beauty and resources as well as tourism. “We can form a positive friendship together,” he said.
Presented with a plaque as a token of appreciation for his support, Tan noted the success of the students in putting the Turkish language on show and spoke of the importance of the Turkish language on the world platform. “[The students] presented the Turkish language -- the language of love and the heart -- with great success. If you were to travel from here all the way to China, the Turkish language will not let you down. It is a powerful language shaped from a far-reaching culture and history,” he said.
Tan reinforced the importance of language learning for children, inviting participants to the Children’s Day celebrations to be held at the Turkish Embassy in Washington on April 23. “[Through such events] the event’s organizers realize another aspect of diplomacy. Bring your children and let us celebrate together our children’s festival, the likes of which do not exist anywhere else in the world. Let us also voice our Turkish language there,” he said.
Drawing attention to the fact that more than 250 million people worldwide speak Turkic languages MAFTAA President Mahmut Yeter said students in 155 countries, including the United States, currently learn Turkish as a second language in high schools and universities. MAFTAA’s member organizations teach Turkish in 13 cities across the Middle Atlantic states.