Students and alumni from 135 countries who attended or graduated from Turkish universities gathered in the Turkish capital Ankara on Tuesday at two separate iftar dinners, for the breaking of the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Alumni from more than 30 countries who graduated from Turkish universities gathered at an iftar organized by International Alumni Association of Turkey (TUMED).
Speaking at the event late Tuesday, event organizer and TUMED head Ergash Jumayev said the alumni are the bridge between Turkey and their own countries.
"International graduates are volunteer ambassadors of Turkey to their own countries," he said.
He added that the graduates have the responsibility to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations between their countries and Turkey.
Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YÖK) also organized an iftar for international undergraduate or graduate students in the capital on Tuesday.
YÖK Chairman Yekta Saraç said at the event that Turkey's universities are home to students from 182 countries.
Students from 135 countries on six continents attended the iftar dinner – representing 49 African countries, 38 Asian countries, 32 European countries, 12 South American countries, the three countries of North America, and Australia.
"Four years ago, the number of international students in our country was 40,000, and today that figure has reached almost 150,000," Saraç said, adding that these numbers reflect the success of the internationalization policies pursued by YÖK.
"As Turkey, to achieve our higher education strategy in terms of internationalization goals, we are continuing our existing relationships and building new partnerships. In developing undergraduate and graduate education policies for foreign students, we are developing policies not only economically but also in the human dimension," he said.
Students who attended the event told an Anadolu Agency (AA) reporter about their experiences studying in Turkey.
Didar Badyyev, an economics student from Turkmenistan studying at Hacettepe University, said she dreamed of studying in Turkey since she was a child.
"The education I received in Turkey met all of my expectations," she told AA. "All of the teachers at the university were very helpful in my progress in my field of study."
Zainab Alabedi, a Libyan interior design student at Atılım University, said: "In Turkey, they show a lot of tolerance and understanding toward foreign students. That makes us very happy."
She said the similarities between Libyan culture and Turkish culture made the adjustment to life in Turkey easier. "I'm living without feeling like a stranger," she said.
At the event, which was attended by various higher education leaders and officials, students from Kazakhstan performed traditional music.