South Africans are showing a growing interest in Turkish language and culture, with many taking the next step and enrolling in related courses, the director of Turkey's state-run Yunus Emre Institute in Johannesburg said. "Every day we receive many people at our offices asking about Turkish culture, since our office is located on a very busy street in Johannesburg, near the home of former late President Nelson Mandela," Yiğit told Anadolu Agency (AA).
He said many people visit their office when they see the Turkish flag and name of their cultural center. More than 50 students have already registered for Turkish courses at the institution in the 2019 academic year, he noted. "Our institution was established just over a year ago, but the numbers of people visiting us to inquire about Turkey or to register and study, shows us there is an overwhelming interest," he said.
Yiğit said the institute, which was inaugurated in October 2017 also aims to promote bilateral relations between Turkey and South Africa through cultural exchanges. "In 2017, we sent six South African students to Turkey to improve their knowledge of Turkish language and culture. Last year, we also sent a media studies student from a South African university to attend a Turkish cinema festival," he said. He added that they have students of all ages. "We offer courses on the Turkish language, calligraphy and Ebru, or paper marbling," Yiğit said. He said the institute was also promoting the educational opportunities in Turkey to South Africans. The institute also launched the first Turkish library in sub-Saharan Africa, which will benefit both South African and Turkish researchers.
Since its establishment in 2009, the Yunus Emre Institute has taught Turkish to more than 99,000 people in 40 countries. Named after the influential poet Yunus Emre, the institute now has around 50 cultural centers around the world, offering artistic, social and scientific programs.