Here are a couple links to help you learn about this place I’m living known by some as “The Land of Fire.”
First, here’s a link to a page from the website Global Voices Online. It seems to be a blog that focuses on online-conversations taking place across the globe. The page highlights some of the PCVs blogs in Azerbaijan, including this one, and the spat between myself and the socially-repressed commenter who shall remane nameless.
Here’s an article by the NYTimes, the first one I’ve seen about Azerbaijan in the paper since I’ve been here.
This country has always had tricky geography. To its north is Russia. To its south is Iran. And ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union it has looked west, inviting American companies to develop its oil reserves and embracing NATO.
Azerbaijan, a small, oil-rich country on the Caspian Sea, has balanced the interests of Russia and the United States since it won its independence from the Soviet Union. It accepts NATO training but does not openly state an intention to join. American planes can refuel on its territory, but American soldiers cannot be based here.
Finally, here’s a short write-up about the Azerbaijani school directors and their ability to use computers. This one hits home to me, because I’ve had a difficult time balancing how the computers at my school are to be used, and the school administration’s acceptance of the technology.
Our school got about 20 computers sometime last year, but they mostly remained locked in a room and unused. I’ve been working on an English Resource Room with my counterpart, and part of our project is to take one of the unused computers from the lab and put it in our room, in order to add a media component to our lessons. Surprisingly, this has been met with some resistence. I tried telling my director that I’ve been using computers for nearly 20 years, and know how to use them in a classroom, but he’s worried that they will be misused and treated poorly. Thus, they are not used at all. Many schools have a similar problem. It seems as though Azerbaijan is making good steps in bringing technology to the schools, but there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to having a facultly to use these resources to their fullest.