''At the meeting with Minnikhanov, Kashayeva raised the issue of addition of Tatar to Google Translate''

Tatars in Switzerland: excursions in Geneva in Tatar and lessons of Tukay’s language abroad

Regina Schegoleva is the director of Yuldash Non-Commercial Association of the Tatars and Bashkirs in Switzerland. At the end of the last week, together with other representatives of the Tatar diaspora, the girl met with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov during his visit to Geneva. Realnoe Vremya knew details of the meeting, how Swiss Tatars lived and how concerned about the native culture they were.

Tatar language courses lined up

During an intense programme of his business trip to Switzerland two weeks ago, Rustam Minnikhanov made the time to meet with his compatriots. About 150 Tatars and Bashkirs live in this country. The Tatarstan president was told how the two national diasporas united three years ago to create a joint Yuldash association to conserve native culture far from the homeland. The representatives of the association respect national traditions: they regularly gather, make tea parties, give master classes on Tatar culinary. Sabantuy festival has been held for eight years in a row where about 400 guests gather. Authorities of Geneva support the initiative, provide an open-air site with a stage.

At the meeting with the Tatarstan president, the representatives of the association talked about the conservation of Tatar and its inclusion in the system of popular Google Translate. Rustam Minnikhanov supported the idea and offered Minister of Communications of the Republic of Tatarstan Roman Shaikhutdinov to consider this possibility. A Tatar national dance was performed for the honourable guests, while Frenchman Guillaume Darles demonstrated his skills in playing Bashkir musical instrument kubyz and throat singing.

A Tatar national dance was performed for the honourable guests

''In the conditions of large-scale globalisation, many languages are under threat of disappearance. It's a big problem. This is why we need to use all opportunities not to allow it. Only 30% of the Tatars live in Tatarstan now, the others – in other regions of Russia and abroad. Only thanks to such non-indifferent people as you, we will be able to conserve our language and culture. Otherwise, we can lose it all,'' Rustam Minnikhanov thanked the compatriots.

The Tatarstan leader reminded the republic had fulfilled several projects to unite the Tatars around the world, there is an online educational programme for people who want to learn the Tatar language called ''Ana Tele'', there are Selet camps for kids, TNV-Planet satellite channel airs.

Rustam Minnikhanov expressed director of Yuldash Association of the Tatars and Bashkirs Regina Schegoleva gratitude of the Tatarstan president for an especial contribution to the conservation and development of the language, culture and traditions of the Tatar people. Realnoe Vremya reached out to the girl to know the details of the conversation and plans of Yuldash association.

''How was the meeting with Mr Minnikhanov? What projects did you discuss?''

''Sabantuy is scheduled this year on 17 June. We have a task to expand it and invite kurash wrestlers from Tatarstan, traditionally artists and more locals to acquaint with Tatar culture and traditions. We spoke about the importance of learning the Tatar language. The Kashayevs family who still speaks Tatar with their three kids at home even if they have lived in Saint Petersburg, Finland and Switzerland was given as an example.''

The Tatarstan leader reminded the republic had fulfilled several projects to unite the Tatars around the world

Gulzhikhan Kashayeva, one of the representatives of the association, does her PhD thesis on the Tatar language problem at the University of Geneva, she also plans to lead Tatar language courses in Geneva. There are interesting ideas of organising an excursion to Geneva in the Tatar language.

''Whom can the Tatar language courses in Geneva interest, first of all?''

''We want Tatar for ourselves not to lose and talk, and some people need to improve it.''

Agreement to support students

''Who offered to include the Tatar language in Google Translate? How was this project discussed?''

''Gulzhikhan Kashayeva raised the issue of satellite television in Tatar and addition of the Tatar language to Google Translate. According to Roman Shaikhutdinov, Tatar is also present in Yandex Translate. We also told the president how often we gathered and expanded our community of compatriots. We gather for Tatar tea parties, organise Sabantuy together, give master classes on Tatar culinary. There are plans to organise concerts and recitals dedicated to Tatar men of art. Our task is to support culture and traditions of our people far from the homeland and tell the world about them. During the meeting with Rustam Minnikhanov, two young Tatar girls delivered speeches, who are daughters of members of our association who performed a Tatar dance for the guests. Besides them, Lubov Kamosko who does good and is one of the founders of Lusya's Home animal shelter and charity fund, which she supports by holding events including in Switzerland, gave a speech.

''Did you talk about any educational projects?''

''We signed a sponsorship agreement to support students in exchange programmes between Tatarstan and Switzerland. As for conditions of exchange, internship opportunities, not we but the university deals with it, while we support students.''

Regina Schegoleva: ''Our task is to support culture and traditions of our people far from the homeland and tell the world about them''

People want to know about our culture

''What is the association of the Tatars and Bashkirs of Switzerland now? Who are the most active members?''

''Now there are 15 active members of the association. However, we have more than 150 people who are famous, though, undoubtedly, they mainly live in Switzerland. Mainly women from 25 to 50 years are among the activists.''

''What's the attitude of the locals to Tatars?''

''They have a good attitude to us, we tell about our culture, and people are interested.''

We need to remind that Regina Schegoleva already told Realnoe Vremya about the creation of the association and organisation of Sabantuy in Switzerland:

''Anyway we held 2016 and 2017 Sabantuy with great success. In addition, we held the holiday without any support and budget in 2016. In 2017, we had the first sponsor. Official trade and industrial representative of Tatarstan to Switzerland Guzel Salikhova also joined the association and supported the project. She has been living here for more than 15 years.

I talked with the Tourist Information Centre of Kazan and Tourism Development Centre of the Republic of Tatarstan. We got brochures, souvenirs from them, raffled a trip to Kazan. Some of our activists dealt with the site, somebody was responsible for design and print of flyers. Somebody dealt with artists. In the end, more than 400 participants gathered in 2014, 300 did in 2017. The Tatar artists who were invited from other European countries in 2016 came by spending their own money. This year (Editor's Note: 2017), artists from Tatarstan came to us for a holiday with the help of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Next year (Editor's Note: 2018), we plan to widen because we have potential partners and sponsors. The embassy of the Russian Federation, the department that works with compatriots, is ready to support us. It means we will celebrate the holiday on a large scale. There are many ideas and plans, but it's early to reveal them. We need to notice that many Russian-speaking residents in Switzerland loved our holiday. We consider our main task is to acquaint people with our culture and traditions and conserve it for our next generations.''

By Yulia Kosolapkina. Photo: president.tatar.ru