Houston hosted the Fifth Annual Turkish Language Olympiad Southwest America Finals on Saturday February 19, 2011 at Hobby Center. 720 finalists among thousands of participants from seven states competed in 8 categories including Turkish language competition, singing, poetry, talent, Turkish cuisine contest, picture and figure, folklore, and state exhibition contests. The finalists will be the candidates to
represent the “Lone Star State” in Turkey among the representatives of 130 countries.
Fox 26 anchor Melissa Wilson hosted the program in traditional Turkish costume. Political, academic, cultural notables as well as more than 2,500 spectators attended the event. US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Turkish parliament members Ahmet Yeni, Ayse Turkmenoglu, Ibrahim Hasgur, Idris Gulluce, Ikram Dincer, Consul General of Turkey Akil Oktem and Harris County Sheriff were among the distinguished guests of the event.
The organization also received many proclamations and messages. Honorable Harris County Judge Ed Emmett sent a message with a proclamation. Mayor Annise Parker also sent a proclamation about the event. In addition, US Congressman Al Green and US Senator John Cornyn sent a message to the audience.
The 5th Turkish Language Olympiad at the Hobby Center was only the last step of a long process. Over 6,0000 students who take Turkish classes at universities, public schools, and branches of Raindrop Turkish House in 16 cities of Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Arkansas participated in the first round of eliminations. In order to encourage Turkish language teaching, Raindrop has been organizing Turkish Language Olympiads since 2007.