Özay Günsel Children’s University commenced its first academic year 2018-2019 with the first lecture given by President Mustafa Akıncı.
According to the press release provided by the Özay Günsel Children’s University, an opening ceremony was held at the Near East University Atatürk Culture and Congress Centre to which President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akıncı and his wife Meral Akıncı; Chief Advisor of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Nicosia Kadir Akçeşme; Özay Günsel wife of Founding Rector of the Near East University Dr. Suat İrfan Günsel; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Near East University Assoc Prof Dr İrfan Günsel; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Özay Günsel Children’s University Anna Günsel; Rector of Özay Günsel Children’s University Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli; Rector of University of Kyrenia Prof. Dr. İlkay Salihoğlu; Vice Rectors, Head of Institutes, Deans, Academicians, Özay Günsel Children’s University students and families attended.
The ceremony began with a minute’s silence, followed by the national anthem. Then, the promotional video of the Özay Günsel Children’s University was screened. Subsequently, accompanied by traditional Cypriot music, the play called Kına Gecesi (Henna Night- a Cypriot tradition) was exhibited by the students of Near East Preschool; that received great applause. Also, during the play the children poured rose water to the guests, and distributed henna food which was highly liked by the audience. The opening ceremony continued with the speeches made and the giving of the first lecture by the President Mustafa Akınıcı. It was pointed out that the lecture was quite fun as there were interesting answers given by children to the questions asked; which triggered outburst of laughter.
Prof. Dr. Meriçli: “We are very happy and proud to have established the first and only Children’s University…”
The opening speech of the ceremony was done by Rector of Özay Günsel Children’s University Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli who stated that commencement of the first academic year of the only children’s university made that day very speacial. Prof. Dr. Meriçli added that she was very glad to be with the President, academicians, children aged 6-17, and parents and thanked each one of them for honouring them by being present. Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Meriçli stated that world’s well-established universities enabled children, who are considered as the future of a country, to experience a university at a young age with science and scientists, art and artists, sports and athletes.
Prof. Dr. Meriçli pointed out that they had founded the children’s university so as to benefit from the children’s unlimited imaginations, to enable them to enquire about their interests and open their thought horizons, allowing them to discover themselves in order to be successful and happy individuals in the future.
Prof. Dr. Meriçli emphasised that as a university which is always innovative and initiative, Near East University founded the first and the only children’s university and that this made her feel quite excited and happy. She also stated that she was very pleased to be a part of such a significant project and expressed many thanks to everyone involved in founding the children’s university.
In addition to the above, Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli stated that she wished to thank Near East University and University of Kyrenia officials, adding that they were pleased to work together with them. Also, she addressed the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Özay Günsel Children’s University Anna Günsel, and congratulated and thanked her as a young mother for enabling everyone to be a part of this project. She said that after raising their own three successful children, Founding Rector of Near East University Dr. Suat Günsel’s and his wife Özay Günsel, are now providing the opportunity to educate the children of Cyprus and prepare a bright future for them. In this regard, Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli sincerely congratulated Founding Rector of Near East University Dr. Suat Günsel’s wife and included many thanks to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Near East University, Assoc Prof Dr. İrfan Günsel, Vice Rectors Prof. Dr. Tamer Şanlıdağ and Assoc Prof Dr Murat Tüzünkan and his spectacular team for all their support.
Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli pointed out that they had founded the Özay Günsel Children’s University as a gift on 23rd April National Sovereignty Day and re -thanked the Günsel family, institutions and employees for their support to the university.
“We are providing an environment which allows children to shine like a star, freely and without restrictions …”
While ending her words, Prof. Dr. Meriçli thanked the parents for bringing their children to the Özay Günsel Children’s University, and referred to each child as a ‘star’. She said that they were providing an environment which allows children to shine like a star, freely and without restrictions. Furthermore, she stated that this environment was provided via 150 educational programmes. She stressed her belief that every opportunity provided to children would surely pay back positively. She also pointed out that due to Özay Günsel Children’s University Near East University and University of Kyrenia campuses will be made child friendly; and therefore bring Cyprus forward as a child-friendly location.
President Akıncı: “I am rather excited by the fact that a children’s university is being brought to life in our country…”
Following Prof. Dr. Filiz Meriçli’s speech, President Mustafa Akıncı made a speech and stated that he wished he was a child so that he could also go to this children’s university; emphasising that the children’s university was a great opportunity. He also stressed how excited he was from the fact that a children’s university was being brought to life in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus-as it is the case in well-developed countries.
Akıncı advised the children to make the most of this opportunity and added that the children will be provided education in a very broad framework. Akıncı told two personal anecdotes to the children referring back to his childhood. One was about a play and what happened to him while he was on stage, when he was in primary school. The second was about an experience he had while he was in middle school. He then gave the students a valuable ‘take home message’ from these anecdotes.
“When encountering unexpected situations, it is necessary to keep going, in cold blood, without getting worried…”
Akıncı stated that when he was a child, he had to have a moustache and a beard because of the character he played in a play. He added that because of this, they had to stick cotton wool to his face to make a moustache and beard; and explained that he acted as the sultan in the Lale Period. He further explained that he pretended to drink wine but that he was actually drinking coke. While drinking, his cotton wool moustache got wet and fell off, and Akıncı said that he did not know what to do. His teacher signalled that he should continue and thus he continued to act and completed the play. He told the children that everything in life would not go as they planned and hoped and that what life could bring was unclear. He said there was no need to panic in unexpected situations and continue and face the unexpected situation calmly.
The Hall was filled with Laughter…
Before Akıncı began t o tell his second memory, he asked the children whether they knew the brass instrument smaller than the trumpet, and the students confused the instrument cornet with the ice cream brand which caused an outburst of laughter in the hall. Then, Akıncı continued his words by joking, stating that he would but the ice cream ‘cornet’ to those who listen and understand what he will be talking about.
“If you believe and work hard, you will succeed!”
President Akıncı told the children about an experience he had while he was in middle school; stating that he took an examination top become a member of the school brass band and was unsuccessful. He pointed out that this had made him very sad as he was a person who knew how to play the violin and could read musical notes. As a result, he practised the cornet as much as he could within a year and learnt how to play marching music. Later, he succeeded to replace and be a member of the brass band; due to the leave of the boy who played the trumpet.
Akıncı pointed out that a lesson should be learnt from this anecdote, and that it was never to give up! He told the children that it was not possible to be successful in everything, but they should not give up easily in such situations. He emphasised that the children should believe in themselves and then keep working as this would surely lead to success.
President Akıncı ended his words by expressing success to the children.
A Plaque of Appreciation was presented…
Finally, subsequent to the first lecture, a plaque of appreciation was presented to the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Mustafa Akıncı and therefore, honouring the commencement of the academic year by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Özay Günsel Children’s University, Anna Günsel.