Azerbaijan International

Summer 1995 (3.2)
Pages 2-3, 74

Politically Mature
This magazine is one of the best publications of any kind that I have read in any language. As an Azerbaijani, I am very happy and proud that our friends have been able to put together such a valuable magazine. This is a big score for Azerbaijan as a nation and a culture. The magazine projects a true and positive image of the country.

In the upcoming weeks I will try to get in touch with some of the universities in North Carolina and encourage them to include this magazine in their library collections.

When I looked at the first couple of issues of Azerbaijan International, I was particularly struck by the objective and unbiased nature of political columns and pieces relating to the on-going conflict with the Armenians. This is very "politically mature" of the editors of the magazine and will certainly help the cause by being perceived as a reliable source of information by non-Azerbaijanis who read the magazine.

Assembling such a diverse array of articles, columns, and pieces must take tremendous amount of time, energy, and shear work. Given the staff limitations that you probably face, I really don't know how you manage to do it. Thanks.

Jalal Baghdadchi
Greensboro, NC
March 24, 1995


Crisis in the Arts Began Decades Ago
In response to your editorial, "Crisis in the Arts" (Spring 1995, 3:1), I would like to make a few comments. It is a wonderful analysis of the arts in Azerbaijan and written very objectively. I agree absolutely that the economic situation in Azerbaijan at present is a major reason for the crisis. But there are other reasons, too.

In the 1960s I was directly involved in the performing arts in Baku, particularly, the local opera and ballet theater. At that time there was poor attendance at the operas and ballets performed in the Azerbaijani language. But the opposite was true for Russian performances. This can be explained by the international character of the local population and the successful Russification of the educated Azerbaijanis in Baku. However, when Azerbaijani opera or ballet was performed outside of Baku in rural areas and other cities, there was 100% participation.

It should be mentioned that among other reasons for the current crisis is the reluctance of Azerbaijanis to experiment, particularly in national opera or ballet, which are relatively new arts in Azerbaijan performance history.

Regarding the statement, "Armenians have amusedly observed that Azerbaijanis are so much involved with 'mugham' (a musical tradition combining vocal performance with traditional instruments) that they don't make good fighters." I would suggest that any art form serves to make people better and kinder, but that training young men to become good fighters and capturing another's land, does not.

Dr. Alex Guss
Granada Hills, CA
March 25, 1995

AI Reflects Spirit of Azeris
Yesterday, I received my copy of Azerbaijan International. As usual I read nearly every article. I found the information very interesting. The photos were amazing-every one was a piece of art. The theme, "Crisis in the Arts" parallels reality at this time when Azerbaijan is on its way to prosperity. Thanks for a magazine that is really a masterpiece, reflecting and supporting the spirit of Azeris around the world.

Tarlan Tzade
New York
March 24, 1995

University Students in Denmark Research Azerbaijan
We're a group of students from Roskilde University in Denmark and were so glad to learn of the existence of your magazine. We are doing research about Azerbaijan in relation to its dominant neighbors (Iran, Turkey and Russia).

We've had a very hard time finding material on this subject. We have gone through every library, the Security and Disarmament Council, the Peace and Conflict Research Institute, and most foreign policy research institutes and universities in Scandinavia, finding almost nothing on the subject. It's been a very frustrating process. Even our professor didn't know where else to look.

Most of the material we've found about Azerbaijan describes the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. We found little else except a bit of historical material. We were referred to your magazine by the Center for Civil Society International (CCSI), an educational organization in Seattle that publishes a monthly newsletter about Eurasia and East and Central Asia.

Thomas Heikkila
March 31, 1995
e-mail from Denmark

After Studying Abroad
It's been nearly a year since I have returned to Azerbaijan after being a high school exchange student in Pennsylvania. During my stay in the US, I tried to learn everything that had any direct or indirect relation to Azerbaijan.

It's rather amusing for me to think back to my first days when I returned to Baku. My mother kept complaining about my wearing shorts in public, advising that it was not proper in our culture. But, even with long pants I managed to attract almost everyone's attention surprising them with my baggy American clothes. This went on for the first 20 to 30 days.

Everything seemed so different and so strange to me. I had many questions inside which arose from the differences between Americans and Azeris. It was really confusing for me since I felt both Azeri and American.

Added to this, I was depressed to see people who had suffered from hard economic conditions. It was easy to figure who they were from their faces which looked so pale, worried, humiliated, though proud. Of course, the bloody war had left its indelible scars on some people's lives. I was shocked to realize that the Cemetery for War "Martyrs" had been extended three times in my one year's absence. Thanks to the effort of peaceful powers, the cease-fire with Armenia has given some hope in our people's hearts.

For the first two months it was a little hard to get adjusted into the old life-style but I soon got used to it and life is back to normal except that now I study at the university not high school. For that, I'm grateful to the Azeri government which has provided for the 128 students that have returned from the US by giving us a chance to study at Western University.

Now I study here and try to do my best in order to achieve my goals. I look forward to seeing my American host mother again when she arrives for a summer visit. I can only hope that these two countries (Azerbaijan and the US) become as peaceful, as kind, as happy and friendly as my own two families already are.

Askar Askarov
April 17, 1995

Making Dreams a Reality
Salam! My name is Leyla Mammadova. I'm an exchange student from Baku and am currently studying in Cassville, Wisconsin, where I am a senior in Cassville High School. I heard about your magazine and was very impressed to learn that somewhere in the US, people publish a magazine about Azerbaijan.

Things are really going bad in Azerbaijan now. There's the war which has devastated the country, there's inflation, and there's hundreds of thousands of refugees who have escaped their homes and communities which are now in territory occupied by the Armenians. Any of these problems alone are tough enough, but thrown all together, they make life miserable.

When I receive letters from my family, I end up crying all night. Inflation is running about 1000% a year but wages increase at only 10 percent a year. The basic needs for food for a family of three is about $100. But the average wage is $10 a month - not an hour, a day, or a week but for a whole a month. But $10 is only enough money to buy bread, onions and water.

Life conditions are terrible, too. In the winter, the temperature can go down to 30° F., but many people do not have heat in their apartments. The walls of their apartment rooms become wet because rain seeps in. When you wake up in the morning, you can see your breath because the apartments are so cold. The government does not have money to repair the central heating system or the electrical wires. In the last letter I received from my family, they had not had running water in their apartment for 20 days. It meant they had to carry water in pails from nearly half a mile away where there were hundreds of people lined up for water. When water does flow in my part of the city, it only is available for a few hours, usually less than two hours every other evening.

I love my country very much and it hurts to think that this wonderful beautiful country has to go through all this. Our people are very warm, caring, loving and understanding. Why do they have to suffer so much? Wasn't it enough to survive 70 years of Communism? Wasn't it enough that thousands were killed in the concentration camps in Siberia and during World War II? Wasn't it enough that much of our cultural and historical heritage was destroyed during those long, tough 70 years? And finally, wasn't the war with Armenia enough which has taken thousands and thousand of our young strong men who had their whole lives and future before them? Why is life so unfair to these people?

I feel so depressed which I think about all the tragedies that have befallen my people. I have so many plans and dreams for my country. I want to help build a better life for all the people of my country.

My future plans are to become a doctor and help my country. My GPA (Grade Point Average) is 4.0 (straight A's which is the highest mark given). I have won awards in Math & Science competitions. I speak Azeri, Russian, English, German and a little bit of Spanish. I qualified with a 593 on the TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language). I consider the biggest achievement of my life winning the scholarship to become an exchange student to an American High School.

The selection process was very tough. Students must have the equivalent of a 4.0 GPA. More than 1,000 students competed for the 35 scholarships that existed. So, for each place, there were 28.6 people competing. To win, I had to take two exams, write an essay, fill in an application which was about 20 pages long and sit for an interview. After all that, I was selected as one of the finalists for this full scholarship which included costs of transportation and monthly allowance.

My biggest dream is to get a good education and to become a good doctor. I want to finish my education in the States. With a better education I could do so much more for my country. But my problems are as big as my dreams. My financial sources are so limited. My parents are both doctors in Baku. You know how much doctors earn there? My mother makes $10 a month and my dad gets $100 because he works for an American humanitarian relief program. He's very smart otherwise he wouldn't have got the job. So, if their wages are hardly enough to support a family, it is absolutely not enough to afford a school in the US.

I have applied to 50 colleges throughout the US and even some in Canada. But nobody seems to have full-time scholarships for international students. Most of the grants go to US residents. The importance of getting a scholarship never leaves me. I'm always thinking about it. I've written so many colleges but nothing works. I feel so desperate now. The cheapest college for international students which I have found is an African-American college in Alabama (which is $9,000-which is not cheap at all). And that doesn't include a plane ticket to get here since I'm graduating at the end of Spring.

Do you know of any scholarships or donations for students from Azerbaijan? I have a lot of plans and dreams. I want them to come true so much. My country needs help. I'm ready to give as much as is in my capacity. Thanks for your time and effort.

Leyla Mammadova
Box 154
Cassville, WI 53806

Editor: For information about how to sponsor a high school exchange student from Azerbaijan (the program which gave Leila the chance to study in the US), contact World Learning: Kerie Mills, FSYE/IHSP, 360 West Putnam Ave., Greenwich, CT 06830. Tel: (203) 629-5945; Fax: (203) 629-6011. Or contact Eric Lepisto, World Learning's Director in Baku via e-mail<> or Tel: (99412) 93-43-35.

From Azerbaijan International (3.2) Summer 1995.
© Azerbaijan International 1995. All rights reserved.

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