Summer 1997 (5.2)
The Tables Turned
Impressions of Azerbaijani Youth Studying Abroad
by Aykhan Asadov
One of the most important lessons I've learned here is how to be independent. I've been totally on my own in this country and, in some cases, I'll have to admit, it hasn't always been as pleasant and desirable as I might have imagined.
There are many practices that we Azerbaijanis should borrow from the West. Relationships between students and faculty seem much more sincere here than in Azerbaijan. Maybe, it's because professors in Azerbaijan often seem to expect "something" (bribes) from students. That's not the case here. They've already included that in the tuition! No seriously, I like the way professors teach here. At the University of Michigan, there is a wonderful tradition of applauding our professors at the end of a good lecture.
This is a free country made up of free people. Being free here means not having to be dependent on anyone. But that has an adverse effect, too, because it means people are totally on their own. In some cases, it looks like government does not adequately care about them. But people need care. When I see a homeless person in the street, it makes me wonder what could have happened to that person that he has no financial or social support-nothing. It makes me concerned that I not fall into the same situation. I guess I'm not the only one who thinks this way. Maybe that's the reason this society is so competitive. Maybe this is the price of being an industrialized country. But I feel it's wrong. I would not want to take back with me the feeling of cruel competition that leads to this tragic abandonment of so many people.
Maybe our hospitality and friendliness are the most valuable things that Americans could learn from us.
Edmund Muskie Fellowship
University of Michigan Law School
Ann Arbor, Michigan
From Azerbaijan International (5.2) Summer 1997.
© Azerbaijan International 1997. All rights reserved.