Page 1

European Voluntary Service in Azerbaijan 2010-2011


Content PART I – Projects - page 3

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Page 13 -

- page 16

page 19 -

- page 22

PART II – EVS stories New Beginnings – page 27 Multiculturalism 1 – page 28 The Buss Story – page 30 Multiculturalism 2 – Shopping – page 32 Multiculturalism 3 - A walk in the city of Baku – page 34 Multiculturalism 4 - Crossing to new beginnings – page 36 Time for some statistics – page 38 Love in Azerbaijan – page 40


PART I Projects


Responsible, Cecilia Popa


After participating to this conference:

We said to ourselves, “let’s put all of these social actors to work together for a better ecology in Azerbaijan” and so, we start to think to what should be the perfect method!

YES! Let’s make a Platform, a Network in which all NGOs, international organizations, governmental structures, companies and other social actors can be involved in order to create a Team Work and to improve how things are developed in ecology! Ok, so let’s define he purpose, the objectives and what should be the activities! Purpose: To define a solid platform of NGOs, institutions, government and individuals preoccupied in ecology issue. Objectives: to create a virtual support for all social actors involve in ecology aria in Azerbaijan to define the main weaknesses and strengths in ecology aria in Azerbaijan Activities: 1. Individual Meetings – individual meetings with every each of those organisms direct interested in ecology aria, to scan the context in Azerbaijan regarding ecology 2. Thematic Working Sessions – group meetings with all those social actors direct interested in ecology aria to create the platform 3. On-line platform – creating a blog/site, who will be updated frequently with news, grants, projects etc. in ecology 4. Dissemination – through mass media, on-line supports (social networks: twitter, facebook; blogs; yahoo and google groups; sites etc.) we will disseminate the result in every step we make during the project 5. Evaluation – on-line survey on the on-line platform created


So, we get on our ecological walking tool‌ which in this case, wasn’t either this beautiful bike, but our proper foots!

After working so hard to a whole database in our amazing office:

We approach more than 60 social actors in order to empower our team and to increase this project potential. And YES we found out the perfect partner we ever wanted:

in collaboration with

They already had a BIG interested in ecology and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), especially in ECOLOGY! And their mission is to assist people and businesses to manage risks properly in order to let them feel confident and guaranteed!

What other guarantee we should need to realize that together with them we can bring the change in Ecology in Azerbaijan? So, we took the challenge!


And we started the work practically and we met the followings: Non Governmental Organizations Aydin Freddie Huseynov Elvin Damirov

Green Baku

Lyaman Alyeva Azad Aliyev

Socio-economical investigation NGO

Azer Garaev

Animal Protection NGO

Elchin Sultanov

Azerbaijan Ornithological Society

Elshan Nuriyev

Green Bikers Club

Fagan Aliyev

International Ecoenergy Academy

Farida Guseinova

Azerbaijani Green Movement

Fikret Djafarov

Sustenable Progress

Firuza V. Sultan-zadeh

EkoSfera/Social Ecology Centre

Habib Odjagov

Professionals' Association on risk situations and population security FOVGAL

Irada Yagubova

Independent Research Center "ELS"

Islam Mustafaev

Ecological Society "Ruzgar"

Ismail Ismailov

"The man and environment" NGO

Kamil Ileasov

Public Union "Nature and Human Being"

Lidia Guluzade

Scientific Society "Teta Hazri"

Manaf Suleimanov

Ecological Union from Azerbaijan

Muslim Gurbanov

Scientific Community "Ekoil"

Naila Ismayilova

SPARE International

Tarlan Ramezanov

Mountain Sportive Club

Telman Zeynalov

National Center of Environmental Forecasting

Yevdokiya Khambekova

Golden Hive. Been Fan Society

International Organizations Chingiz Mammadov Gulnara Ifasenova Christian Gonner Shahin Isayev Eli Waite Jackie Dent

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme GIZ - German International Cooperation Peace Corps

Kakha Bakhtadze

CENN/Caucasus Environmental NGO Network

Michel Viland

OSCE/The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Baku Office

Natik Umarov

UNICEF/The United Nation Children's Fund. Azerbaijan Country Office

Parviz Yusifov

European Union Delegation in Azerbaijan

Companies Faiq Jafarov

SOCAR/State Oil Company of Azerbaijan/AZNEFT

Nurinj Jalilova Oktay Aliyev Ramil Rustamov

SOCAR/State Oil Company of Azerbaijan

Governmental Structures Lars Ragnar Aalerud Hansen

Embassy of Norway

Sovkat ?

Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, Azerbaijan

Others Zaur Hamzajev

physic person


Great meetings!

And, as if it wasn’t enough, we carried out an on-line survey, approaching also, the NGOs which whom we couldn’t reach to meet!

Here are some slides from the big presentation which took place at the 1 st Workshop:

Methodology Individual Meetings (IM)

Ecology in Azerbaijan in the beginning of 2011 EVS Volunteers

Partnership

Method: Interview Instrument: Interview Guide Respondents: 33 (all social actors) Indicatives: - activities - results - issues/solutions - grants - partnership - platform

On-Line Survey (OS) Method: Sociological Inquiry Instrument: Questionnaire Respondents: 9 (only NGOs) Indicatives: - activities - results - SWOT Analyze - issues/solutions - grants - partnership - platform

Platform

How do you evaluate the importance of the following partnerships that you are having right now?

Do you think a Solid Platform in Ecology in which all the NGOs in ecology, governmental structures, companies, other organisms and individuals are involved in a very transparent way, it would be helpful for you?

7 6

No

5 4

Governmental

3

Particular

NEA

International 2

Company

Yes

1 0 extremely important

important

not so important

absolutely unimportant

Results  development of energy system  international partnerships  human resources strategy  REC Caucasus  doing something together  partnerships with WWF, BP, CPEF  valorization by donors on the projects managed with success  permanent projects  succed projects  members in a platform  mass-media audience  big projects

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Grants • Difficulties accessing money! (IM) • Confused answers (OS): “very difficult” in the same time with “very easy” @ the question How easy is for your NGO to accessed the following funds? -> The same @ the question How much your NGO depends on funds? • SOLUTION - Social Entrepreneurship – the capacity of transforming issues in opportunities!


Of course, no project without MEDIA! Reaching to this step, we found out another solid partner, extremely open and formidably friendly:

It is useless to tell that starting from this point, we had all the support from Azerbaijan Media Center! And we had it here firstly:

And we appear at least here: 1.http://www.azertag.gov.az/index_az.jsp?id=1533&date=2011-04-13 2.http://www.salamnews.org/az/news/read/45897/azerbaycanda-ilk-ekologiya-shebekesi-oumlzishine-bashalayir/ 3.http://www.interfax.az/az/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=66616&Itemid=70 4.http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3AtmWoCqHzy3YJ%3Awww.azconta ct.com%2Ftopics_az.asp%3Fid%3D3953%26pb%3D4%26vr%3Daz%26yr%3D2011%26mn%3D4% 26day%3D13%26mdn%3D1+Az%C9%99rbaycandak%C4%B1+Ekoloji+%C5%9F%C9%99b%C9%99k %C9%99&cd=4&hl=ru&ct=clnk&gl=az&source=www.google.az 5.http://www.azecology.az/news/inthecountry/1640-az601rbaycanda-t601l601b601l601r.html 6.http://mediacentre.az/az/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=312%3Aazrbaycanda -ilk-ekoloji-bk-&catid=34%3Anews 7.http://www.baki-xeber.com/new/2011/04/14/get=58199 8.http://obyektiv.tv/index.php?view=video&id=1517%3Aekoloj-problemlrn-hll-uecuen-qht-bksyaradilir-&option=com_jomtube&Itemid=17&lang=az 9. http://www.youtube.com/user/Obyektivtv?blend=1&ob=5#p/u/0/jxB_Wu6USPw


Absolutely, we had to define one website in order to support our network, because one of the objectives were to create a virtual support for all social actors involve in ecology aria in Azerbaijan‌ so here there is our lovely website:

www.nea.az!

Thank you Nihad Yolchuyev & Sevinj Quliyeva for your wonderful contribution!


And yes, after long preparations‌ 2 hard workshops followed:


The reports regarding the workshops, you can find them on NEA’s website! Who was present @ our 2 Workshops? Organization/Institution Aydin Freddie Huseynov Azer Garayev Babazade Gultakun

Green Baku IUCN ENPI/FLEG; Animal Protection NGO Ecoscop

Bariz Mehaze Chimnaz Shabanova Elchin Sultanov Elcin Amuxbir Eltekin Omarov Elvin Damirov Elxon Aliyev Emre Gulbahar Ershad Ezimzade Farida Guseinova Fariz Qaraev Fikrat M. Jafarov

Regional Environment Ecoscope Azerbaijan Ornithological Society AzerTAC GIZ - German International Cooperation Green Baku SOCAR/State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Schneider Electric Quba Azerbaijani Green Movement Ecological Resources Sustainable Development Public Union

Fuad Akhund-zadeh Galina Kozlova Habib Abasov Habib Odjagov Henschel Sandvo Ibrahim Mammadzadeh Irada Yagubova

"Nature and Life" Public Union "Ekograf" Qaba Profesionals’ Association on risk sistuations and population security FOVGAL UNDP ECOS Independent Research Center „ELS”

Kakha Bakhtadze Katalin Szlovicsak Khalid Mikayilov Leyla Mentiyeva Leyla Sadıxova Lidia Guluzade Manaf Suleimanov Marius Fossum Nabizade Zargalam

CENN - Caucasus Environmental NGO Network EVS Volunteer CESD ENPI/FLEG Temiz Sheher Scientific Society „Teta Hazri” Ecological Union from Azerbaijan; ACEP Norway Embassy Ecological Society RUZGAR

Nariman Agayev Nigar Kirimova

Davamli Inkisaf Arasdirmalari Merkezi IUCN ENPI/FLEG

Nino Shavgulidze

CENN - Caucasus Environmental NGO Network

Niyazi Aliyev Rasim Agayev

DI Center Educational Center for Youth

Rasim Aliyev

Ministry of Industry and Energy

Rauf Rzayev

RUZGAR

Roman

Enekorg

Sabir Suleymanov Sabr Abdulaev

Social Problems and Ecology "Damiragaci" ENECORG

Sadig Rzayev Sakit Huseynov

FMESA - Fund of Monitoring of Ecological Standards of Azerbaijan Sutainable Development NGO

Sandro Henschel Sena M. Allaverdova

UNDP - United Nations Development Programme/OBSERVER Environment Continuu Development

Sevil Yuzbasheva Sevinc Heyderova

Eco World Public Union/Eco Alem Alternative Eco

Sevinj Mirzayeva

Azerbaijan Ornithological Society

Shahin Isayev Shamil Ismayilov

GIZ - German International Cooperation Ecological Stability "Ekos"

Tavakkul Iskenderov

"Biodiversity Center" NGO

Telman Zeinalov

National Center of Environmental Forecasting

Trada Aleskerova

UNICEF/The United Nation Children's Fund. Azerbaijan Country Office

Vusal Guliyev

Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations under the President of Republic of Azerbaijan

Xalid Minayelov

CESD

Zara Nadizade Zaur Hamzayev

Scientific Community "Ekoil" ENECORG

Zitta Hasanova

ENPI/FLEG


You were ABSOLUTELY amazing!!! Thank you for your HUGE support!

Janina Pasaniuc

Gulnara Akhundova

Marius Hărduţ

Sabina Khan Seymur Kazimov

Anar Suleymanov Bahruz Karimli

Sevinj Gulmaliyeva Vusal Rajabli

Elman Francisco Elvin Aslanov Fexreddin Hesenzade Ikram Aslanov

Elnur Axund

Nurlan Ahmadov

Ingilab Farzaliyev

Vuqar Rustamli

Mubariz Gadirov Rasim Agayev Vusal Guliyev

Ruslan Aliyev Angela Nicoară Leyla Gahramanova Sabina Salmanova Ulviya Mammadova


Responsible, Daniel Valachi


Green Techno Billboard Fundraising Party For supporting financial our projects, at least, partially, we thought, let’s just create a BIG ECO party in this way. And so, Green Techno Billboard Fundraising Party was created!

Why our party was the BEST? Well: Because it was the 1st social event on ecology in Baku of this type Because together with our partners developed the community Because this idea generated other similar ideas Because we brought in one place Social Event and High Class Party at European Standards

So, we invited one of the biggest international DJs of our times: DJ NASTIA! Check her here: http://vipartist.ru/performers/russian_fashion_dj/dj_nastia_beauty/

But just let the pictures speak by its selves here:


THANK YOU VERY MUCH TO OUR PARTNERS FOR BEING THERE AND SUPPORT!!!!


Responsible, Ioana Marcu


Working Together for a Better World! We were thinking: ok, so, we will do this EVS time and then, what? Let’s just make one fallow up of it? And we did it! We applied at 1 st April one project on Youth in Action so we can come again in Azerbaijan to see how ecology is developing after our departure!

Look @ Ioana, how hard was she working on this:

So, basically, the project “Working Together for a Better

World” is a multilateral youth exchange with neighboring partner countries, organized by a group of young people, members of Azerbaijan Students’ Union. The main aim of the project is capturing reality, which surrounds us. If the participants will use their creativity and cooperation having a common goal, the turn out will be beyond their imagination.

Purpose: to discover the environment through the camera lenses while working together to bring a small environmental change in area of Quba. We will raise awareness among youth on ecology issues while we practice media skills through bringing together youth from 6 different cultures, providing them the opportunity to discuss and take action on Environment. Taking action is the drive in bringing the change we wish in the world. By being creative in taking action, the youth skills will develop further, which means that when the circumstances around them will change, they will be prepared in acting creatively when the context requires.

Objectives: Raise awareness among youth on ecology issues Work, live and learn together while developing media skills Bring a small change in the big world on principle: think globally, act locally


Plenty of themes are related to our project, as: Cultural diversity Environmental issues and practical solutions Volunteering Creating and using different media activities in various situations Taking care of the body while working with it Freedom, trust, courage Management skills Social communication Group dynamics Leadership, active participation Person as individual, person in a team, person in nature Breaking routines and taboos, handling diversity Learning, leaving and working together Self – expression, communication, spontaneity

Thank you

for the support!


Responsible, Andreea Florea


Trainings in Ecology for Students Biensur that we did more than these! We also developed one context for handling trainings in ecology for students!

Purpose: to raise awareness about ecological issues among Azerbaijani students.

Objectives:

On personal level: To learn how to work in groups/teams To learn how to express their ideas assertively in frond of a group To learn how to be more proactive and to take initiative To learn that they have the power to make a positive change in the community they live in

On professional level: To learn how to act ecologically in a concrete way at a personal level/family level/friends level/school-job level/community level To learn that even their smallest actions have a consequence on the environment they live in To learn to take responsibility for these actions To learn how to involve themselves in a concrete way in the ecological issues which exist in their country The main topics we reached were: T he present situation of environment in the world and in Azerbaijan The most stringent problems which the planet is faced with and its possible solutions What does it mean to be Eco? Eco actions in everyday life by every person, in order to reduce the negative effects on the environment How to become more aware of impact that our everyday actions have on the environment How to become aware of our feelings regarding environmental protection How to develop efficient acts based on our awareness about ecology.

Thank you

Azerbaijan Students’ Union, Youth Center and ACT NGO for your Splendid Support!


But our pics speak by its selves:


Responsible, Andreea Florea & Ioana Marcu


Nature Adventure Eco-Camp The main aim of this ecological camp is spending a very enjoyable leisure time in nature while training in environmental education, survival, wild nature orientation with and without compass, more over we support and encourage voluntary work, team work, awareness on your print in nature, being inspiring leader.

In just few words, the main objective of the camp is: personal development through eco awareness.

The young people closed to nature, while spending time outdoor, will develop skills related to: Different types of communication (with nature and each other) To voluntary work (individual and in teams) To create a friendly environment to live in (clean, recreate and prevent).

At the end of Eco-Camp participants will acquire new knowledge, gain self-confidence, to realize the need to protect nature and the importance of doing. For one week, young people will help greening and planning of recreational areas combining four important facts in everyone’s life: knowledge, work, enjoy and sport.

The participants will be divided into teams with names chosen by the participants and their own mascot. During the camp days, they will participate to different activities. After each activity they will receive eco points. These eco points will bring to each team a prize and a title @ the camp’s closing ceremony!

The project wasn’t implemented during our term there, BUT we have BIG expectations that this camp will take place in the next future! So, go for it guys!!!

Thanks


Well there… this is just a part of our time as EVS volunteers, because the fun and joy and parties are memories hard to express and even if it should be possible to lay in words, one single report it wouldn’t be enough! So, for those unrelated facts shoot us on facebook: Andreea Florea, as Andries – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001288513676 Cecilia Popa, as Cecik – http://www.facebook.com/cecilia.popa Daniel Valachi, as Dănuţu – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000827374125 Ioana Florea, as Ionel – http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=789603551

Till then, check these out:


PART II EVS stories


New Beginnings New experience in a different world at the edge between Europe and Asia, as I like to say, has started on 7 November 2010. The departure was more quick than I imagined. I still remember the call from Marius (Romanian coordinator).

''- Hi Ioana, I'm Marius from ACT. We saw you applied for the project in Azerbaijan, we want to inform you that you have been accepted. The departure is on 1st of November in two weeks. Please send us the confirmation in 2hours!''

In the mean time I was preparing for a meeting with the ESN Iasi Manager and one of my best friends also, Simina. We were in the preparations for the next party/project. I was expecting this type of call for some time. I just forget it and lived the moment. I dedicated a big part of my time to ESN Iasi.

THE call came in the wrong moment. The decision making process didn't last to long one hour. My reasons for accepting this proposal were various, but I remember my dear mother asked me: do you wanna leave there just because you don't have a job here? Of course I said no to her. This was the main reason... followed by others. While taking the decision, a question pop-t in my head over and over: What are you waiting for? Is a great opportunity! Almost the right Time! Just go for it!

And... I did! I am here. I am one of the 4 Romanian crazy guys that left in Baku, Azerbaijan for six months! The first time we (the girls) met in ''Gara de Nord'' the main train station of Bucharest, for visa. The Moldavian/Romanian guy met us where? In the plane! He almost lost it. After two weeks we still don't know each other but every night before sleep we have a ''kitchen meeting''. What happens there? Uiiii you must be here to see. One thing is for sure: is not passing a day without laughing, laughing and laughing and laughing.

To be continued...

wrote on 22 November 2010


Multiculturalism 1 Since we are here, is not passing a day/night without guests. :)

They love us and we love them!

Who are this mystery guys? Well think about ESN Iasi volunteers when they met the 2010 Erasmus people from Iasi. Exactly! They are ASU volunteers or related to ASU. In the first days we have met so many people than even now we don't know the name of all of them, and not just because of they're names.

For those whom never experienced something similar - to be THE foreigner that everyone wants to met and spend time- might be a bit overwhelming. Some of us had this feeling and they still struggle with it. In this kind of moments I remember about the ''Cultural Shock'' - Marius was talking about it.

At first sight there is no obvious cultural difference. If you are not aware of your own culture you cannot make the difference, you just think: ''Why they do this? It's stupid! We do not do like this!''

Well... let me tell you some things that you might already know: everyone is different! even between us ''Charlie's Angels'' (or Danu's Angels?) there are differences in the way we act and think. Here it is the cultural difference between the regions of the same country.

I faced cultural difference from the airport. Our new friends came after us the airport. After we made acquaintance the guys (only boys came after us) offered themselves to take our luggage. Me and the girls we sad no is OK we can alone. They insisted many times until we gave up. Later (hours/days) I understood why they insisted so much. One of them told me: ''Is not good for us to be seen with you caring the baggage and us with empty hand.'' Also they do not feel comfortable if one of the girls pay for them.


In one of the days I wanted to pay the buss at the driver. I went straight to the driver, I gave the money and I left happy and feeling good that I passed the time and language barrier. After the event, Elgun came to me saying: Never do that again when is a guy with you! Of course I asked Why? What happened? The answer was the same as the one above. Since than we put the money together and we give to Dan or one of the guys to pay in bus, restaurant, internet cafe, shopping. Most of the times our new friends not want to receive the money. I was a little bit angry/feeling bad because they were paying for us all the time so I told them: You cannot pay for us all the time! You will be broke very soon!

Do you think something changed?

Well.... just a little bit. We practice some small strategies in order to feel good both of the parts. Going with the buss in Baku it can be a great and unique experience. This is another story to tell....

See you later Alligator!

wrote on 23 November 2010


The Buss Story Usually when you want to travel by buss (in the city) you buy the ticket, than you stamp it and you take a sit, or you have a monthly pass and either you just show to the buss driver either not and you take a sit. The people give their place to old people or pregnant mothers or with child in their hands. Sometimes boys give they r place to beautiful girls.

Well.... here in Baku, is different. What? Everything!

The ticket is 20 qapik (15-17 euro cents). You must pay this money to the bus driver but not when you get in the bus! When you get to your destination you get down from the buss, you run (or walk slowly) to the front of the buss at the driver and pay those 20 qapik/person. Ticket? No ticket! Let's say they are Eco. The company doesn't waste paper for tickets. Good for you!

In our first day here we had a funny situation. After we let our luggage in our new apartment (which by the way is huuuuge) we went to eat with our new friends and we took the buss. We got

in, we talk, talk and talked till Vuqar said let's go! Me and the girls we said than... and the ticket? How much were is it? You didn't buy? We go for free? Of course he said don't worry!

We go! After two days going with the buss we noticed what's happening...

When a girl/women gets in the buss, all the guys that are sitting raise up to give their seat to the girls/women - except the guys from the last row. The guys/men from there will not gave up their seat and is not expected to do so because it is as an unwritten rule as giving up the seat for women. Those who are on the last row are usually V ery tiered and sometimes I saw them sleeping. While you are reading you may think: Oh but this is not different here is happening the same! Well... you're wrong! We 3 girls and a boy when we get in a buss we can see and feel the phenomenon. 5-10 guys/me getting up from their seat so you can take a seat, it is something!


If you refuse they insist again and again and again. At first I was feeling very bad because they were just getting up so I can seat because I decided to get in the buss at that moment. I felt strange and I still feel it. I wanted to see how they react when a women/girl is getting in the buss, if they feel like "ohhh she is in... I MUST get up ... I don't want to!". What do you think? In 3 weeks, 21 days of traveling almost every day by buss I NEVER EVER saw that expression. I guess it's in their nature and they don't concept them the boys to seat down and a girl to stay up in the buss. For me and the girl was very unusual to see and experience this and when someone was doing this for one of us we were smiling and having the "wow effect". About Dan... he got used very fast to this custom, faster than us! The time with the buss... When we ask via e-mail Vuqar and Elvin about the placement of our flat, they said it is near to city center. One mistake that we did ..we didn't asked: what means near for you? When we read the e-mail we were exited to hear is near city center, for us near means 5 to 10 min walking. In our first visit to city center we found out what means near for Azerbaijani people. Near with buss is equal to 45-60 minutes, near on foot equals to 20-30 minutes. You think this road with buss is normal for a big city but the drivers here are crazy! more crazy than in Romania. It's true! Nobody is following the driving rules. Many times the busses are going on the wrong way of the road and they don't respect each other (the busses). It's strange and a huge paradox. You can easily see how much men respect the women and the drivers don't respect each other. We almost had an accident because of this - two buses - one wanted to go in front of the other by the wrong way an the other got angry so he tried to intimidate the other - so we were at 1 cm distance of a buss crash. Thank God they have VERY good breaks. When you are in the buss and you don't have the luck to have a seat it is much recommended to have tree hands so you can keep yourself secure to be safe. If we forget all these stuff about driving and safety, many times the Buses are very efficient. They can run faster than the metro which is a big plus (but this only if you get a "crazy" driver). One more thing... here the buses are at the client disposal. I believe they work on the principle: The client our owner! wrote on 29 November 2010


Multiculturalism 2 - Shopping Here it is pretty difficult to find in a place all you need or

almost all. For example in Romania we have Carrefour supermarket, computers market clothes shops, accessories and house decorations. The shops are individual in various places and in many of them you can negotiate. Except the prices from the shops w hich are in a mall/shopping center are not very different from others. We got a conclusion: Everything is expensive in Baku for us. On first December we were invited at a cocktail to celebrate the National day of Romania . Andreea and I we choose to skip the office hours in this Special Day also because she need it something to wear for the night. So I said ok. Let's go shopping alone without any Azeri person. We were very exited because we were doing something big alone in a country where we don't speak the language, we don't understand anything and they don't speak or understand English or Romanian. Ok... they speak Russian but the only one who speaks Russian is Danu and he went to office with business. When we enter in a shop we are used to say ”Salam” w hich is Hello/ Good day. The people here sometimes answer sometimes not. Those who know us they smile and come very helpful saying ”Salam Salam!”. The fact was that we entered in a shop... we looked and tried to find the price without asking because once they see you are foreigner they rise the prices d ouble or triple and you must

negotiate. How to negotiate if we can't understand each other? The girls in the shop saw we ere interested in some things and they sta rted to talk with us. We said ”Yox Azerbaijani!”... they continued to speak and speak ... Finally we left but we felt very strange and somehow angry because we can't speak with them. In other shop they said very cute: ”aaa English? Very bad we don't speak.” In the final shop from where Andreea bought her dress the women didn't know

English but they really tried to help us and we used the few words we know in Azeri and some English and mostly the body language. At the end they told us the price in English (even if we

already knew it :P) and Good Bye. They were very nice and sweet we will definitely go back.


I noticed this type of comportment almost everywhere they smile a lot and come to see if you need help and also they are very curios to see what you buy. When we go to the supermarket closest to our flat easily you can see that we make some kind of phenomenon. All employees including the supervisor gather at the ”cash ...!!!??” and they start speaking to each other and looking at us and smiling. At Ledera's (other supermarket) the things are just a bit different. They don't gather together because it is bigger the supermarket (I believe this is the cause) but they announce each other that ”Attention! the foreigners are here! ”. You can see on their faces the happiness that we bring by our presence. Very soon they will get used to us there... Another thing more funny is that every time when we go for weekly groceries our very good friend Bahruz is with us and the employees and the people from the supermarket are asking him ”from where are they/ what they speak?” maybe they ask what they eat, drink, breath... :D I don't actually know what they ask more but it is not impossible. Here everything is possible!

We should get used to this treatment: every eye on us, smiling and helpful people wherever we go whatever we do. Expat sometime is creepy. From the moment we leave the building the men's from outside they just turn and look at us the 3 beautiful Romanian girls :P sometimes they smile.

wrote on 6 December 2010


Multiculturalism 3 - A walk in the city of Baku I can't believe I am saying this: I want to meet some girls. In our apartment only boys have been inside except me, Andreea and Cecy. We are all the time surrounded by boys. I like this, I feel good in this kind of environment but sometimes we need some girl time.

Because it was Saturday and because Danu and Bahruz had a party to attend, Cecy and I were in the mood for a walk in the city and to discover the city by ourselves. In Romania both we are more independent and we do what we want when we want. Here we had to adapt fast. So the opportunity to be only us in the city sounded very , very good. The guys took us to the city center with the car and than they went to the party.

For us Everything was great! Amazing! We talk, we walked, we listen and observed the waves of the Caspian Sea, we bought cotton candy and popcorn. It was Girls Night Out... very good! Until... Until 2 guys liked us and started to follow us everywhere we went till they approached us. We tried to escape from them a few time but with success. After a few minutes ... other 2. We decided to go in Park Boulevard shopping mall. Those 2 followed us in the mall and after in the shops. They waited us to see the clothes, perfumes, accessories everything. We were entering in the shops mostly because of them we thought they will get bored and leave but no. Danu and Bahruz called us to see if we are still in the city. I told them yes we are but we have a tale with us! The reaction was: Hold on! in 10 minutes we are there! I must give you some other details. -

After 20:00 the girls normally are not allowed by the parents to go out. Even at 20-24 years.

This is one main reason in establishing the hour in starting the event/party. This special party started at 18:00. Bahruz told Danu to hurry because everyone is there before the announced time. Why? Because the girls must be home at 8 p.m. We had the walk from 18 to 21 hours.


-

Usually when a boy likes a girl, he doesn't approach her like we all European are used to. Just go to her/him talk, ask phone number and so on. Here there is more strategy, tactics and survival!?! The boy follows the girl. First he is looking to see if she is with somebody, if yes than the quest is over. If not than the fun just begins!

You remember the old romantic stories of our grandmothers of how they met their love? Well I think here it is something similar.

I feel is safer to fall in love here in Azerbaijan, than in Europe. He will not chase a girl just for fun or just because has nothing better to do. They cannot concept this as a possibility. Me and Cecy panic a little bit even if we would've felt good that they are interested on us and because the men in mall were looking at us. We didn't know how to react what to do more or not to do. We were saying: I have never ever felt so hunted like now! Everything ended ok when our men come.

We hugged them and those 2 hunters just disappeared like ice in the Sun.

wrote on 13 December


Multiculturalism 4 - Crossing to new beginnings So much time has passed since I wrote the last note... In the mean time my new friends have asked to write more. Write about what? Here in Baku every day is an adventure! Many things have happened, and I do not exaggerate when I say EVERY day! The Christmas we have celebrated it in Romanian style with Christmas tree, carols, baked cookies, cooked food, games and good, good mood for sharing and be together. New Year it was in Azeri style (almost). Here the New Year is a family holiday, and how our families were home, we have been in the city center where we watched the Fire Works show, we drunk and spread champagne all around us. Funny memorable moments! I don't know if this time to continue story telling about the Azeri customs and culture or just to share with you about the love, feelings and complications... For now I guess I will continue with the traditions, I will dedicate a special note just for LOVE. In Romania we have a custom to celebrate the coming of the Spring through Martisor Day. This day is the 1st of March. During this day and 8 of March (Mother's day also) we give a small talisman to family, friends, colleagues so we can give them our joy and warm energy that Spring brings to us in the beginning of a fresh start. Azerbaijan is celebrating also the Spring’s arrival. Each week of March, Tuesday is holiday. In Each Tuesday of the month they celebrate one of the natural elements starting with Water, Air, Earth and finishing with Fire day. Each day has his custom but the most famous one is Fire Day (remember Azerbaijan - The Land of Fire). I will share with you 2 customs that I saw and I remember. 1. If someone knocks at the door, you open the door and what you see is: a hat‌ or two. You have to put anything you have cooked in the hat (in the old times - now you put candies, cookies or


money). Then you close the door and the hat disappears! Is not magic or Santa Clause :) are just young children running from door to door to gather as many candies as they can. Something funny happened in one of the March's Tuesday. Cecy was home alone, tiered and hungry - just arrived from office, when she hears knocking on the front door. She opens the door and guess what! 2 hats on the carpet... Instantly she runs to elevator to see if someone forgot them. Two small girls and their mother were there surprised and a little bit disappointed in the same time by the empty hats and Cecy's misunderstanding. Until the time we got home, Cecy found out the meaning of the hats on the door. The next Tuesday... Cecy had two bags full of candies for the children! :)

2. The last Tuesday (the Day of Fire) marks the beginning of Bairam Novruz Holliday. During these days different traditions are followed. An aim of this special week is the celebration of New Year in Muslim religion. One of the traditions that I believe is the youth's favorites is jumping over the Fire. How it works? Well people of all ages are effectively jumping over the fire that they have made in their yard or neighborhood, or on the street. When or before jumping you must say: „ağırlığn – uğrluğum tongala” in English is something similar to „all bad things stay behind or be burned by the fire, so good things have space to come”. During this evening I have seen in town so many fire places! and yet I didn't hear any fire department sirens. You could hear only the burning wood or the fireworks in the sky, or the joy and happiness of children, parents and friends. This day has been followed by many parties. Everywhere in the city it was a new party, bigger and more famous. Actually we have been part of one. Our party!

But this... my fellows is another story!

wrote on 11 April 2011


Time for some statistics We are in Baku, Azerbaijan for 5 months and 10 days. Amazing things happened (as meeting my Ursuletz) and strange things, adventures requiring skills and personality development and tolerance! Let's start with our beautiful flat. In 5 months, -

from over 20 light bulbs only 5 are still working (after changing them 2 times);

-

we have remained without electricity every month (different reasons);

-

my phone broke 2 times (now it's ok after long waiting);

-

in first 2 months shadows and strange noise was present in home (should we call the Ghost Busters?);

-

our tea kettle has become an orange lamp transforming or dinner in a very romantic environment (now we have a new one);

-

2-3 mugs and 6 cups, 2 plates and 1 ball have broke (most of them we have replaced);

-

knob door malfunction 3 times (now is working thanks to Danu);

-

I have lost my favorite green t-shirt from Lagos, Portugal - it just flew away from balcony while he was drying (now we fix the clothes with 2 extra pegs);

-

my beloved Buddy slipped in bathroom and fell on the floor with the sing over her (she is fine but the sink not... )

In the bus or metro: -

almost each day a guy or man gives his place for me, Andreea or Cecy (each time we go by buss - I go at least with 4 busses);

-

I have heard 5 Romanian songs - in Romanian and English (from which 3 were... guess what!

Manele :|); -

because of our joy, beauty and smiles, at least two times people came to us and said: please take a seat near your wife!


On the street and pubs, clubs: -

I slipped and fell in front of a big scary buss - in the middle of the street (I’ve hurt just my hand and ego): 3 men came to me to help me but by that time I was up thinking I don't want to be a flee on the buss's windshield but I appreciate their intention :);

-

we have fight many, many times with the wind - to stay on the ground or just to walk to our flat;

-

on 8March we have received in Otto Cafe flowers just because we are women;

-

on 8 March also went the first time in a disco where we heard the Romanian wedding song: „Astă seară-i nuntă mare!”;

-

also on 8 March we had a flat tire (thanks to Danu again we reached our destination - but we lost a disc in a petrol station);

-

me and the girls have been followed by boys every time we go without a man, guy, boy - when we see we are followed we give a call to a friend as strategy (works every time);

-

we negotiate prices and sometimes we reach to buy the product three times cheaper;

-

in 4 months we never have been in a club here - during last month we have been in clubs/disco more the we ever thought we will go here (thanks to Kamil and Danu);

-

we gave 5-6 TV interviews (from which one was for TV show). We are Famous!

-

many times the fact that we are Romanians has opened doors, closed before

Added by Andreea :) -

Our hair also fought many, many times with the Baku wind, especially the Yenni Yasamal wind...:))

-

We went to tea houses and drank very good tea and ate very delicious sweets - how I am going to miss the whole tea house ceremony from here :)

-

We learned how to play Domino: 101 and telephone, and no matter what Kamil and Abbas say, I do know how to play it :))

-

We smoked homemade narghilea in our very own home :) -

- We learned how to cross the road in an illegal way! :D (I can't imagine being back in Romania and having to cross the street on the zebra :)))

-

wrote on 11 April 2011


Love in Azerbaijan In a previous note I was relating you about how safe it feels to love and be loved in Azerbaijan.

Since then many things and events have happened with me and my colleagues, all of us. Well for men, as foreigner men is more difficult to find someone here moreover if he wants just for one night or nothing serious but is not impossible. A foreigner girl on other hand is very hard to not be assaulted by guys.

I and the girls have received soooo many invitations and proposals that from a time I was very against men. I didn't want to hear anything related to men, couples, dating, etc. When I came here, somehow I knew how the guys are here and I said to myself I don't want anyone knew in my life, I am good alone, I don't need any distress. Until one day, when someone succeeded in breaking my promise to me. He was very clever, persisting; he knew how to act in order to get my attention. I think in those moments I was acting as an Azeri girl. Some events brought us together. We had good times but also many fights because the two cultures from which we come from are so different that at a time you just don't know if is good or not to act in that way. Small things as shaking hands when you greet someone can make a big disagreement between the two of you. What I have learned from this relationship is how different we are even if we think we are the same; I learned to argue; I learned to appreciate more the freedom; I learned to appreciate more small things; I learned the cultural differences in a couple. If it wasn't him there is a probability of 90% that I wouldn’t accept to go out with Kamil. You may say: and what? Well I would've said NO to my THE ONE. I feel and believe that this was my last lesson I had to learn before meeting Kamil so there are just 2 words I want tell to this mysterious guy: Thank you! Loving in Azerbaijan may be safe and look easy but actually is pretty complicated. Most of the people here, boys and girls, when go out with someone automatically they think at marriage. They go out to find someone to marry, doesn't matter the love or compatibility... if the girl is a good host, is beautiful and from good family than is good to marry; if the boy is from good


family, has good car, money, parents have money it’s going to be hunted, it's a don't let him go! Of course there are many criteria’s to fulfill before to get married but... the chance of the girls is continuous and many times not so adorable. For us there are many paradoxes attitudes and thoughts. For example if you - as girl- go out for a tea with someone, automatically he thinks you are his and from that moment you are together. A date for us or just a tea together for us may be just to see if the two of you have something in common or just to see how is the other person; or you may accept just because you need a friend or someone to

talk with. Well if you think to

do this here, forget it.

As an advice, better you stay in

home or you go out with

a women because boys here

they interpret totally

different your intention. Also

they have the tendency

to go very fast in a relation,

after just 2 days you

may hear from him - I love you

- even if u had just date with him or exchanged some sms. What I believe is that many of the boys here confuse the words/feelings in special in English. Yes I am referring to - I Love You with actually - I Want You - You must be mine.

How are they in a relation? Very sweet and careful. They act with a girl as she would be a porcelain doll. The positive side of this is that you as a girl you feel as you are the queen, the most beautiful girl, one of the most important persons in his life. You feel protected, spoiled and cared. What can I say... they make you feel very good as long as they are interested in you! If they are faithful? Hmmm I'm note sure what to say about it. I have met many people (girls, friends, friends of friends) they have different opinions and different style life. What I tend to think is that most of the men are not faithful after the marriage. I cannot say why or how, I believe they are curious and after having their future decided they have time to think and be curious about other kind of experiences. The women ... I must research more. In the end, here you may love, you may be loved, and you may feel the best! You may live a fairytale :).

wrote on 24 April 2011


Thank You AZERBAIJAN! This project has been funded with support from European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author and the Commission can not be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

European Volunteering Service _ Azerbaijan  

the work of the 4 romanian volunteers in Baku, Azerbaijan during their 6 monts EVS

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