Global youths dance in Istanbul to promote understanding

10:17, July 13, 2011      

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Dancers march and perform on the Freedom street in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 12, 2011. Istanbul Meeting of The World Cultures &Youth is held here from July 10 to 17. (Xinhua/Ma Yan)

Istanbul's iconic Istiklal Avenue is often a microcosm of Turkey but on Tuesday evening it took on an international feel as youth from more than 30 countries paraded down this thoroughfare to promote understanding and share their culture via dance.

"We just want to put a smile on people's faces," said Bela, 15, from Ukraine. "I am really enjoying myself. This is so much fun. I have visited a few places in Istanbul and really enjoyed it," she said.

Wearing their national traditional costumes, some 1,200 young people from all over the world have come to the city to take part in the Istanbul Meeting of World Cultures and Youth festival, which is being organized by Turkey's Youth and Sports Ministry.

"We are having fun and at the same time we are learning new things and making friends," said Zeyneb, a young Turkish girl dancing with a group performing a local folk dance.

"We teach our new friends about our country and learn about theirs," she said. "Our world belongs to everyone and it is great to learn so many new cultures and share a little bit of our own," said Denitza, 17, from Bulgaria.

"This is my first time in Istanbul and it is so much fun. With fun and dance it is us young people who can make the world a better place," she said.

"I always want to be part of such good things." "This is the third year we are organizing this festival given the massive interest from both participants and the public," said Cengiz Durak, the coordinator of the event.

"Initially we had planned it as a one-off festival in 2009 as a precedent to Istanbul celebrating the title of European Capital of Culture in 2010 but the success led us to make it an annual event, " he said.

All costs involved with the event including five-star accommodation and sightseeing tours for the young participants from all over the world are being met by the ministry, said Tarik, a member of the organizing staff.

The festival will run through July 17 with special dance performances every evening.

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