Recently I participated in the EU Bus Tour around Azerbaijan, visiting universities in Sheki and Zagatala and the EuroVillage in Sheki. These activities were organised by the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan
To give you an idea of the tour: Zagatala and Sheki are relatively small cities (with 30,000 and 60,000 inhabitants respectively) in comparison to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, which has around 2.5 million. The two cities are also situated in the North West of Azerbaijan, over 300 km away from the capital. That's why young people in these cities do not have a lot of information about the European Union and, in particular, about the opportunities that the EU offers to youth.
We motivated the young people to be more active, to improve their skills, and to learn new things by making use of the opportunities which the EU has for youth. I shared my long journey of personal development and gaining experience with the help of EU programmes. I did not come from a family that was able to provide my education and training abroad. I limited myself and restricted my wishes to see different cultures and people for a long time, because I thought I couldn’t afford it, until I found out about the available EU youth opportunities. Most of the students in the room had the same desires but felt restricted in the same way that I did a long time ago, because they too were not aware of the opportunities on offer. It was really amazing to share our stories with them and make them aware of the available opportunities. In addition, the students were really interested in the EU: there were a lot of interesting discussions about the structure of the EU, the refugee crisis, stereotypes, etc.
After a long day of work, we tried to explore the local communities by tasting their food, enjoying the mountains, exploring the sights, and, of course, discussing our impressions and reflections on the day while drinking traditional tea.
Although most of my life I’ve lived in Baku, which is a very big and diverse city, I come from another city, Ganja, which is not so big and diverse, where youth do not have as many opportunities as we have in Baku. I am very grateful to the EU that I had the chance to participate in the EU Bus Tour and to work with the local communities of Sheki and Zagatala. I am very thankful to the EU that they remember that Azerbaijan does not only consist of Baku.