"Russian-Turkmen House" held a contest among schoolchildren of the Russian Federation
"Russian-Turkmen House", a recently established non-profit organization, invited secondary schools of Russia to take part in the contest entitled "Turkmenistan. What do I know about it". The initiative was supported by educational institutions of forty four regions of Russia. Pupils of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, a number of towns, settlements, villages and even reformatory schools sent their written works and drawings to make it possible to organize an exhibition in school No 1666 of Moscow. Drawings, wall newspapers, compositions and detailed essays are placed on three floors of the school building. Pupils have access to new information and have a chance to get to know creative works of the pupils of the same age.
Perhaps, only drawings that were sent to the contest fully matched its title - "Turkmenistan. What do I know about it". It proves that pupils do not know much about Turkmenistan. They pictured Bactrian camels which don't exist in Turkmenistan and drew young people in the clothes of the neighbouring country. In addition, they drew relatively real pictures of the desert, mosques, Ashgabat (taken from photo pictures) and copied the flag and national emblem of Turkmenistan and national carpet ornaments...
Pictures and drawings sent to the contest suggest a new title for the exhibition, "Turkmenistan. What did I learn about it?" Every participant admits that they opened Turkmenistan while preparing for the contest. For example, Sasha Yakoventsev even made a telephone call to the Ashgabat theatre named after Mollanepes just to learn about new plays being staged there.
"Turkmen are very friendly and kind people", Sasha said convincingly after talking to the administrator of the theatre. Sasha is from school No 117 of Sorochinsk.
The exhibition proved that young Russians learnt much about Turkmenistan: some of the written works could be compared to dissertation by its volume. Accurate children's handwriting reproduced encyclopedic information about Turkmenistan covering its hydrography, all natural parks, a full list of government institutions, classics of Turkmen literature. In addition, works provide a detailed list of all feature films, documentaries and cartoons ever made in Turkmenistan.
It is very pleasant to note that children enclosed their own works to the major contest task and got to know various aspects of life in Turkmenistan and the Turkmen people to the best of their abilities and knowledge.
One of the participants, while getting ready for the contest, suddenly noticed that there was a Turkmen carpet in his room: "When I look at the carpet I see oasis ships sailing through purple waves of heating Karakum within strict borders in an orderly manner. Even time could not make this drawing get older....."One of the participants remembered the story told by his grandfarther during his service in the ranks of the Soviet Army in Turkmenistan. Other participants tried to associate Turkmenistan poetically (".... if we try to associate Turkmenistan with colour, it is surely to be a yellow colour. A flat desert country, where you can see a sea of sands with takyr (a small dried (not arable) place) islands, brushwood of saksaul, flocks of sheep and arrogant camels...."). Some other participants tried to enthusiastically write verses. Kristina Tomilova, the 11th form pupil from school No 20 of Podgorny village of Georgievski district of Stavropol region, wrote: "Turkmenistan./Sacred paradise, scourged by the sun!/ Unknown beautiful southern country!/ Turkmenistan...A heart stops beating when I hear your name/ What do I wish you, a great country?/ Surely, I wish you to grow stronger!/ And I wish you peace for ages!"
In short, Russian pupils, knowing not much about Turkmenistan, had made up for it and enhanced their knowledge about the country, which was not independent in the nearest past. It was a part of the family of nations of the USSR.
Vasily Krivorotenko, head of the International Union of Charity Organizations, "Courage and Humanism", and one of the founders of "Russian-Turkmen House" told our "Turkmenistan" magazine that winners and laureates of the contest would have a chance to see Turkmenistan with their own eyes and learn more about the country they pictured and drew in their works. Their trip to Turkmenistan is being planned. The contest made Turkmenistan a closer nation to participants and the trip to Turkmenistan will surely be the best award for almost all the participants.