Summer 1997 (5.2)
The Tables Turned
Impressions of Azerbaijani Youth Studying Abroad
Aykhan Asadov Maryam Galybina Aydin Kadirov Zaur Nazarly Natalya Ahmadova Muzhgan Nazarova
Baku Diary, a regular column over these past five years, typically reflects the perceptions of foreigners as they become accustomed to living in Baku. In this issue, we wanted to reverse the situation-to "turn the tables" as they say-and give Azerbaijanis a chance to express their perceptions about living and studying abroad. So we contacted Azerbaijani students via e-mail, and asked them three simple questions: (1) What is an important lesson you have learned while living abroad? (2) What is a dominant feature in this culture that you would not want to take back to Azerbaijan? and (3) What is one way this culture could benefit from Azerbaijan and why?
Replies came back from Azerbaijani students in the United States, most of them recipients of full scholarships. Some are in high school, and others in college or graduate school. Their ages range from about 16 to 35.
Curiously, their comments seemed to gravitate around the difficulty of balancing between the concepts of collectivity vs. individuality and the advantages and disadvantages of each system-concepts which are fundamental to the socialism and traditional patterns with which they grew up, and the capitalism they are experiencing in the West.
What is the weakest point about life in the U.S.? Almost unanimously, they cite the family unit. If these students could make one wish come true, they would wish for stronger family relationships for Americans. They are also somewhat appalled by Americans' lack of awareness and knowledge of other cultures, lands and people.
We've included some of their most thoughtful replies. Click on photo above.
From Azerbaijan International (5.2) Summer 1997.
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All rights reserved.