Monday, June 8, 2009

Realites of Work in Imishli

Okay. So many people respond to my blog and ask me "But Hannah, what about work?" So here is the some of what goes on here in Azerbaijan. I am working on a Model Union Nations Project. I, along with university students in Baku who studied abroad in the US in high school, started a MUN club here in Imishli. We meet every week with the goal of having a mock conference in July. We wanted 20 kids to participate, doesn't sound hard to get 20 kids from the 8 schools in Imishli right? Wrong. Getting kids to commit to stuff here is like pulling teeth, very difficult and painful. We have about 10 kids (and have been working on this for several months now). So Friday I went to the Minister of Education to get his permission for the project. In reality, we need more kids to come and in order to get more kids I first have to go the Minister. With the minister's permission of the project I can then go to the schools and talk to the directors (principals) and then in turn be given access to the youth and recruit for my project; without his permission I can not get help from the school directors.

So, a bit complicated but easy enough. Or so it seems. The Minister did not give me permission for the project because the final conference would be in the summer, specifically July 12-13. Because his three month vacation starts July 7th and because he said kids would be on vacation during the summer he would not give me permission for the project. Granted I have been working with youth now for several months on this project and completely disagree with his logic. The Minister did say, however, that if the final conference was in September or October he would guarantee me that I would have 20 talented and hard-working youth in my club and the project could proceed. So, I have no choice but to follow the say of the Minister. Despite the frustration of Azerbaijan politics and inter workings, it is actually a blessing in disguise because it will give us the much needed time to make this project meet the potential that it has (it is struggling right now).

So lessons learned: Always go to the Minister first! (I didn't before because the project is not in the schools. It was my understanding that anything I want to do literally inside the schools I need permission from him for, but I have now revamped that to anything I want to do with youth I need his permission for.)

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