Despite the coronavirus crisis, teenagers in Georgia are continuing their quest to master the Turkish language.
They have Turkey’s state-run Yunus Emre Institute to thank for this, which has not let the pandemic affect its multiple activities, including its distance education program.
Georgia has been under a state of emergency since March 21, and the restrictions will remain in force until May 22.
The country of over 3.7 million people has recorded 615 COVID-19 cases so far, including nine deaths and 275 recoveries.
The situation, though, has not diminished Georgians’ desire to learn Turkish, according to Nino Nadashvili, a student who spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) via video link.
“Yes, we are going through a stressful and frustrating period, but nothing can stop us. If anything, we have been working with even more motivation,” he said.
Maka Khositashvili, a Georgian teenager who works at a hotel, said she was just as committed to completing her Turkish language course.
Teona Tsintsadze, a Turcology student at Tbilisi State University, said the Turkish lessons made these difficult days more enjoyable.
For Elmar Khalilov, a senior student at Georgia Technical College, learning Turkish remains a pursuit of “love and passion.”
“The virus that has affected the whole world could not dim our love and passion for Turkish. COVID-19 could not halt our education; we continue to learn Turkish with great pleasure and enthusiasm,” he said.
Started 10 years ago as a small state-run agency to promote Turkish language and culture, the Yunus Emre Institute is now a globe-spanning entity endearing thousands to everything Turkey-related. With 157 offices on five continents, the institute has helped teach Turkish to 144,000 people. It is also behind hundreds of activities concerning music, art exhibitions, literature, language, gastronomy, cinema and handicrafts, boosting Turkey's cultural ties with other countries.
The institute is part of Turkey's efforts to strengthen its soft power, or as its leaders call it, reaching out to countries with historic and cultural ties, uniting with other countries through cultural bonds, while making the country more visible in the international community. The country, through a revived developmental aid agency and a foundation to set up international schools across the world, has been influential on the international scene by reaching out to disadvantaged communities, as well as renewing ties with countries it has maintained relations with for centuries.
Since it was established in 2009, it has strived to make Turkish culture and language better known in many parts of the world amid growing interest in Turkey in the last decade. In Turkish Culture Centers from Asia to Africa, it teaches Turkish to everyone from young students to adults. Along with standard Turkish language courses, it offers specialized classes like business Turkish, Turkish for children, literary translation and Turkish used in media. It also runs a series of other activities like an online Turkish teaching portal, Turkish summer school and a Turkish proficiency test.