Referring to www.youngfriends.az the site of the NGO “the Club of the Young Friends of Azerbaijan”, Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism presents the member of the Club, the student of Carlow University (Czechia) Catherine Berger’s impressions of our country and her views about the model of Azerbaijani multiculturalism.
It should be reminded that the NGO “the Club of the Young Firends of Azerbaijan” was established at the initiative of the MA student of the Lithuanian Pedagogical University Salomeja Lukaite and the student of Athene University of Greece Dimitros Asproulis in the frames of the III International School of Multiculturalism “Multiculturalism as the Lifestyle in Azerbaijan: National and Religious Values” held by the organizational efforts of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism and the Knowledge Foundation under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and attended by over 50 students from 16 countries in the summer of 2016. The membership of the Club represents the friends consisting of foreign youth and intellectuals contributed to our country by Azerbaijani multiculturalism. Assembling the lovers of Azerbaijan, the Club is extending its circle day by day. The Club members are making contributions to the model of Azerbaijani multiculturalism, culture, history – as a whole, promotion of the course of justice and presentation of the Azerbaijani realities to the international community.
Catherine Berger: “I’ve always thought that life experience is the best means of extending knowledge. During my visit to Azerbaijan I was ruled by such kind of thoughts. I was supposed to deepen my knowledge acquired so far in the course of “Azerbaijani Multiculturalism” by witnessing this lifestyle in practice.
I liked everything in Azerbaijan – architecture, nature, especially human beings – they are so hospitable and friendly. In Czechia people are more reserved.
I think that the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s care for and his fostering the regular organization of the international summer and winter schools of multiculturalism is very important for the youth to establish new relations and make friends.
During the international summer and winter schools of multiculturalism the young people from different foreign countries of the world enrich their views about this beautiful country’s culture, traditions, history, architecture and most importantly, the model of Azerbaijani multiculturalism through the trips and presentations as reflected on the agenda. During our trips to different regions of Azerbaijan I witnessed the mutual respect and dialogue among the people from diverse ethnicities and those worshipping different religions. Meanwhile, in other countries one can hardly encounter it. If compared with Czechia, in my country the ideas of multiculturalism are not as widespread as in Azerbaijan.
I think that young generations should learn the ways of becoming tolerant and multicultural to address the problems of xenophobia, racism, religious and ethnic discrimination and solve them which is possible through the international summer and winter schools of multiculturalism. The model of Azerbaijani multiculturalism is the best example of solving analogical problems.
Our obligation is to explain to people that one should not be afraid of those different. The cultural diversity in the entire world should be appraised and protected like in Azerbaijan. The model of Azerbaijani multiculturalism is a valuable example worth learning and sharing. The realities reflecting ethnic-religious diversity which I eyewitnessed and the fact of multiculturalism as a lifestyle are amazing. Thus, on my return to Czechia I was not tired of speaking about Azerbaijan to my family, friends and acquaintances.
When I heard about the formation of the Club of the Young Friends of Azerbaijan, I became one of its first members. It was not unexpected to me as the Club extended its membership soon and accumulated a social basis. Since, during my participation in the summer school in Azerbaijan i repeatedly witnessed the friendly attitude of the young people from different foreign countries to this country. It is natural that any visitor to Azerbaijan who eyewitnesses the hospitability, humanism, tolerant mood, multicultural state here should love this country, this friendly people.
I never forget the statement uttered by the State Counselor on Multiculturalism, Interethnic and Religious Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Academician Kamal Abdullayev at one of his meetings with us. The academician said that the main characteristics of Azerbaijani multiculturalism is displaying love, respect and empathy to those different from oneself. These are very important factors. I think that the number of Azerbaijan’s friends is increasing and I believe their number will further increase in the near future owing to the fact that it encompasses these factors and has turned multiculturalism into its lifestyle.”