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Merih 25 Apr 2010

CHILDREN´S DAY

Merhaba,

 

Yesterday, I really felt proud. Yesterday, on the 23rd of April, I was at the Children´s Day celebrations in Dubai.  If you are Turkish or live in Turkey, you will know about the importance of this day for all Turks.

  

Here is an article that was distributed to the guests of the first April 23 Children´s Day on University of Missouri-Columbia Campus, which was organized by the Turkish Students´ Association in April, 1992.

  

This national day (23 April National Sovereignty and Children´s Day) in Turkey is a unique event. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dedicated April 23 to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation. It was on April 23, 1920, during the War of Independence, that the Grand National Assembly met in Ankara and laid down the foundations of a new, independent, secular, and modern republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Following the defeat of the Allied invasion forces on September 9, 1922 and the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923, Ataturk started his task of establishing the institutions of the new state. Over the next eight years, Ataturk and his followers adopted sweeping reforms to create a modern Turkey, divorced from her Ottoman past. In unprecedented moves, he dedicated the sovereignty day to the children and entrusted in the hands of the youth the protection of this sovereignty and independence.

Every year, the children in Turkey celebrate this "Sovereignty and Children´s Day" as a national holiday. Schools participate in week-long ceremonies marked by performances in all fields in large stadiums watched by the entire nation. Among the activities on this day, the children send their representatives to replace state officials and high ranking bureaucrats in their offices. The President, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Ministers, provincial governors all turn over their positions to children´s representatives. These children, in turn, sign executive orders relating to educational and environmental policies. On this day, the children also replace the parliamentarians in the Grand National Assembly and hold a special session to discuss matters concerning children´s issues.

Over the last two decades, the Turkish officials have been working hard to internationalize this important day. Their efforts resulted in large number of world states´ sending groups of children to Turkey to participate in the above stated festivities. During their stay in Turkey, the foreign children are housed in Turkish homes and find an important opportunity to interact with the Turkish kids and learn about each other´s countries and cultures. The foreign children groups also participate in the special session of the Grand National Assembly. This results in a truly international Assembly where children pledge their commitment to international peace and brotherhood.

Participant Countries:

1. ALBANIA
2. GERMANY
3. U.S.A
4. AZERBAIJAN
5. Western Thrace Turkish minority
6. United Arab Emirates
7. BELARUS
8. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
9. BULGARIA
10. CZECH REPUBLIC
11. PEOPLE´S REPUBLIC OF CHINA
12. FAS
13. FINLAND
14. PALESTINE
15. FRANCE
16. Guinea Republic
17. GEORGIA
18. CROATIA
19. INDIA
20. NETHERLANDS
21. IRAQ
22. SPAIN
23. JAPAN
24. KYRGYZSTAN
25. MONTENEGRO
26. KAZAKHSTAN
27. REPUBLIC OF KOREA
28. KOSOVA
29. COLOMBIA
30. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
31. TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS
32. LIBERIA
33. LITHUANIA
34. HUNGARY
35. MACEDONIA
36. MEXICO
37. EGYPT
38. MOLDOVA
39. MOLDOVA Gagavuz REGION
40. MOZAMBIQUE
41. NIGER
42. NIGERIA
43. PAKISTAN
44. POLAND
45. ROMANIA
46. RUSSIA
47. REPUBLIC OF RUSSIA HAKAS
48. Republic of Tatarstan, RUSSIA
49. SENEGAL
50. SERBIA
51. SLOVENIA
52. SLOVAKIA
53. TAJIKISTAN
54. THAILAND
55. TUNISIA
56. UKRAINE
57. Crimea in Ukraine
58. SUDAN
59. VIETNAM
60. YEMEN
61. Turkey (TRT PEOPLE IN GAMES)

 

Normally, this is what happens in Turkey.  What I witnessed was quite similar, except the number of countries attending was less and that the fact was they were all residents of Dubai.  But the biggest difference was that the the whole event was held in Dubai.

 

Under the patronage of the Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey, in Dubai, and as far as I have heard, the personal initiative of the Consul General Mr. Umit Yalcin, in colloboration with the Turkish Business Council and "Sultans of Dubai" ( a group of Turkish expat women), this was the first time Children´s Day was celebrated in Dubai.  They had many Turkish sponsors, as well as some local and international sponsors.  There were many musical and artistic folklore performances by some international schools, and the best part was, there was a Turkish Children´s folklore group visiting from Turkey.  All the kids from Turkey were wearing a special T-shirt with the logo of the event, the drawing of the famous 7 star Burj Al-Arab Hotel with a Turkish and United Arab Emirates flag on the top. 

 

It was overall a fantastic performance.  We were able to watch some unique performances by a Japanese School, Korean School, Pakistani School, and many more.  The Turkish (Black Sea Region) folklore group was amazing in their performance and their costumes.  There was also a choir made up of all Turkish children living in Dubai, singing a special 23rd of April song in Turkish. Moreover, at the end of the performances, our very own Ayse Arman, the famous journalist, who also lives in Dubai, was invited to say thank you to all the sponsors and the people involved.  Finally, a 60,000 Dirhams (around 20,000 YTL) cheque was presented as a donation to the Dubai Cares charity organisation who works to improve children´s access to primary education in developing countries.

 

I feel proud, so proud.  A gift by Ataturk, a tradition that I grew up with is finding place in the international community, where I live.  And I wanted to share this unique experience with you all.

 

Cheers

 

 

 

"The importance of April 23 as a special day of children has been recognized by the international community. UNICEF decided to recognize this important day as the International Children´s Day."

 

 




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