15 years ago, back in December 1993 I was among the students who got enrolled to department of linguistics of Azerbaijan State University of Languages to become a translator/interpreter.
I must also go back and say that in Soviet times it was virtually impossible to get enrolled to this and many other universities in Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan without paying substantial amounts of money unofficially of course. After repeat declaration of independence in 1991 (initial one happened in 1918) one of the first and best things that happened in Azerbaijan was the transfer to written test system of university exams which enabled people to get enrolled to universities they wished without having to bribe anyone. In 1995 it was the second year when this new system was working and I was one of citizens to benefit from it. The studies started weirdly in December because the country had no capacity to check the results internally and test results had to go to Turkey (I think) to be checked and shipped back. Nowadays after 15 years results are known the same day and future students are able to check the results on TV with live announcements...
There have been very many teachers that I met on my path that I am very grateful to; unfortunately I won't be able to remember the names of each of them. Among others I have had amazing phonetics teacher Ashraf muellim, grammar teacher Remziye xanim (if I am not mistaken), Gilinckhan muellim on linguistics and two more amazing and distinctive people/teachers that I was blessed to meet. One of these teachers who not only taught English but became a mentor and close friend to me is Ragsana Mammadova who is now the Executive Director of Azerbaijan English Teachers' Association.
Ismikhan Rahimov who unfortunately passed away now. It is not right and possible to write about Ismikhan muellim in just one post. He has been the person that fought for his native Azerbaijani language against the Soviet regime and who loved and knew Shakespeare’s English without ever traveling to any English speaking country (I think). Although he spent years in Siberia for nothing he still continued to love people, life and of course his native and English languages. Thankfully until his last day he was teaching students and anyone who was eager to learn...without expecting too much appreciation from anyone...Allah rəhmət eləsin (Rest in peace)...
Ismikhan Rahimov with his wife Zarida xanim and grandson in Baku, 1997. Photo: Betty Blair
I must say that nowadays when I hear comments about corruption and low standards in Azeri universities I emotionally refuse to accept that this applies to each and all because that was not and I am sure is not true for many committed professionals that are spending their life teaching those who want to learn and grow and develop. And I am thankful to them. Thank you!