Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism is planning to implement the project of an international summer school "Multiculturalism as a Life Style in Azerbaijan: Learn, Study and Share" for the students of the local and foreign universities where the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" was taught during the spring semester.
The participants in the international summer school to be held from 21 July to 1 August will visit the regions of Azerbaijan, get familiarized with the customs and traditions of different ethnic groups in sites along with the acquisition of knowledge on Azerbaijani history, language, ethnography and culture, which consequently will enable the students to enrich their practical knowledge on Azerbaijani multiculturalism.
To get more profound information in this regard, we met with Hikmat Babayev, the head of the Projects Department at Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism.
Question: Multiculturalism Centre's idea to organize a summer school is very interesting. We would like to know about the origin of this idea and initiative.
The summer school was actually a project resulting from the other projects of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism. To be more precise, the courses "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism' and "Introduction to Multiculturalism" taught at foreign and local Universities laid grounds for the idea about the summer school. The main goal of the summer school to be held following the idea and at the initiative of the service of the State Counselor on Multiculturalism, Inter-ethnic and Religious Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan is to create a single network of the students who attended the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" at foreign universities and our higher education institutions or to further consolidate their theoretical knowledge on Azerbaijani multiculturalism in practice.
I should also note that Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism is implementing the project of the international summer school in collaboration with Baku Slav University and the Knowledge Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Question: Who are going to attend the summer school and what criteria have been applied in the selection of participants?
Being a student was stated as the key condition when announcement about the summer school was placed in the site of our Centre. That questionnaire also stated that the preference would basically be given to the students from the seven foreign Universities where the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" was taught at MA level and also those students who attended that course being invited from other Universities. Broad information was placed in this regard at the internet page of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism, in a number of student networks, internet sites of the Universities where the course is taught, and the students began to apply. About 650 participants from over 50 countries have already applied for the participation in the summer school; however, as I have noted, we mainly give preference to the seven foreign universities where the course is taught. These are Belorussian State University (Belarus), Charles University in Prague (the Czech Republic), The University of Educational Sciences (Lithuania), Tbilisi State University (Georgia), the Ural Federal University (Russia), La Sapienza University (Italy) and Sofia University 'St Climent Ohrid' (Bulgaria). The students of Minsk State Linguistic University (Belarus), The University of Naples Federico II (Italy), Ardahan and Sakarya Universities (Turkey), Pushkin State University of Russian Language (Russia), Vytautas Magnus University (Lithuania), Aligarh Muslim University (India), Masaryk University (the Czech Republic), Vadim Getman Kyiv National Economic University (Ukraine) will also be represented.
In addition, 20 students of Baku Higher Oil School, Baku Slav University, Lankaran State University, Nakhchivan State University, Azerbaijan Technical University, Ganja State University, Azerbaijan State University of Economics where the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" is taught, as well as at Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, which has not started teaching this course yet, have been selected as the summer school participants. It should also be noted that over 250 applications from our country have been registered for the participation in the summer school.
As for the criteria, in the announcement for the summer school we proposed that the students willing to participate should write a small essay in answer to four questions. Those essays would fully reflect their knowledge about Azerbaijan, their interest in Azerbaijan and what is more, their attitude to the ideas of multiculturalism and desires, thus the essays were also taken as a basis during the selections.
In general, over 650 applications for the summer school have arrived from foreign countries, out of which we selected 50 participants representing the Russian Federation, Georgia, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Jordan, Egypt, India, Ukraine and Turkey.
Question: Where will the summer school be held? Would you, please, give us some information about the program?
The summer school will be held in a number of regions of Azerbaijan. In general, the activities of the summer school are to be held in the most important places reflecting the ancient history, culture, art of Azerbaijan. One of the basic points of the program is the participants' planned six-day stay in the Educational Resort Centre in the territory of Nabran of the Khachmaz district. In this period, the students are to make trips also to neighboring districts of Guba, Gusar and Khachmaz. Different activities are to be held in those districts. After the Nabran part of the summer school is over, beginning from 29 July the participants will join the two-day events in Baku. While developing the program we also tried to provide the students with profound information about the Azerbaijani language, culture, art, history and the tolerant traditions historically formed in our country and their roots, today's historical realities in order to familiarize them more closely with the state of multiculturalism in Azerbaijan, to introduce the cultural and religious units in our country and our capital to them more closely. Besides, different master classes, lectures, meetings, debates, round tables and talks, naturally, constitute the main part of the summer school program.
The program stipulates the summer school participants' meeting with Kamal Abdullayev, the State Counselor on Multiculturalism, Inter-ethnic and Religious Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, chair of the Board of Trustees of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism, as well as the outstanding scholars of Azerbaijan, members of the Parliament, heads of organizational institutions, our eminent writers and poets, the youth and intellectuals of the districts of Guba, Gusar and Khachmaz.
In general, each of the activities reflected in the program developed for this summer school is targeted at the increase of the efficiency of the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" being its continuation.
Questions: What kind of results do you expect after the summer school is over?
I should note that many foreign students, who attended the course "Azerbaijani Multiculturalism" have developed not only deep interest in but also love of Azerbaijan. This is obvious not only from the essays they wrote for the summer school, but also in their correspondence with us. This is our potential target. To present Azerbaijan not unconsciously but by introducing it and to increase the number of Azerbaijan's friends.
Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism will, naturally, continue its relations with those students after the summer school is over as well, most probably the students will start researches about Azerbaijan by the end of the summer school. Since most of the students are being specialized in international relations, history, ethnography, geography, etc., they are much interested in the study of the multicultural environment of Azerbaijan, the culture, life style of the ethnic minorities of our country and their rights and freedoms provided by the state. In their graduation papers, dissertation tasks they will give more preference to the issues they witnessed and experienced, or not observed in the countries they study. The students' relations with Azerbaijan, their visits to it will intensify which will draw Azerbaijan closer to them, and they will also turn into the persons who will represent and advocate Azerbaijan in their countries.
Finally, I would also like to mention that before the students' arrival we tried to find out the places they wanted to see in Azerbaijan and we have set up the program in accordance with the students' wishes and expectations from the summer school. We hope that the program we have developed, and the summer school we are going to realize will succeed in the main goals.