By Nazli Yuzbasioglu
More than 1,000 foreign students who studied on scholarships in Turkey will meet in Istanbul this Saturday for a giant alumni reunion.
The reunion, being held under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency, will bring together graduates from at least 107 countries in Turkey's largest city.
The presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) is organizing the event.
Turkey’s “Grant Student Project” began in 1992 and students who studied under YTB coordination with scholarship have built bridges between their own countries and Turkey.
The aim of the Istanbul meeting is to bring together these graduates, who continue their careers in their own countries, to promote relations.
There are around 150,000 people from 160 countries studying as part of an international student project -- “Turkey Graduates,” -- which includes culture, public diplomacy and economics.
Studied in Turkey
Among the graduates who studied for bachelor, master or PhD degrees in Turkey, are Libya’s former Prime Minister Muhammad Ahmad al-Mangoush; Fuad Bacicanin who studied in Istanbul between 1993 and 1997 and now is the director of the Ras City Museum in Bosnia; and Eas Bazdar who studied in Turkey between 1992 and 1998 and now is a general manager at a Turkish company based in Bosnia as well as Rifat Feyzic, chairman of the Islamic Sheikhdom of Montenegro.
Others are Sudan’s first female gynecologist Wahij Ibrahim; Guner Ureye a member of the Kosovo Foreign Ministry; Muaz Feki deputy manager of Tunisia Susa University Science and Technology; Aydin Maruf a deputy in Iraq; Mustafa Jabber a culture undersecretary at Iraq’s embassy in Ankara; and Gandiinma Rentsendorh, general director of Mongolian broadcaster MNB.
As part of the YTB’s Turkey Graduates program, which was started this year, reunions will be organized in 50 countries in an attempt to strengthen contacts with graduates and establish a global network.
So far, the graduates have met at 36 events in 26 countries to take common steps for global peace, stability and development.
The Turkish agency aims to establish alumni associations in 40 countries in order to contribute to the development of political, cultural, economic and commercial relations with the counties of the graduates. An official process has been launched to establish these associations in 17 countries.
Turkey Scholarships are given to turn Turkey into an education center.
While in 2011, 8,000 students applied for these scholarships, the number of applicants have increased since the YTB took over the scholarships.
According to the YTB, in 2013, 55,181 people from 165 countries have applied for these scholarships. This number has increased to 106,550 people from 163 countries.
In Turkey, there are 16,817 foreign students studying on a scholarship. This number of students who studies in the country with their own means is more than 100,000, according to the YTB.
In 2016, 1,425 Syrians were also received a YTB scholarship.
Only foreign citizens can apply for Turkish Scholarships via the Internet and later they are interviewed at around 100 places worldwide.
Candidates who are successful in the interviews, which are conducted by academics and YTB experts, come to Turkey and take Turkish classes in their first year. After that they are placed at universities in the direction of their preferences.
The scholarships include accommodation, food and monthly pocket money as well as insurance plus their flights to Turkey and back home.