Currently drawing up a lesson plan for my first “real” class tomorrow. Hopefully that all goes well.

leotofu asked: Hey. I was also invited to serve in Azerbaijan for education in April 2013 as I'm just getting through medical clearance right now. I'm just wondering, what pretraining and initial thoughts are? How are the people like? Anywho, good luck.

The people of Azerbaijan are very hospitable and welcoming! They are also very traditional and conservative about family matters, which can be great and occasionally not so great. For example, there are fewer opportunities for women outside the home, though the restrictions placed on women by cultural traditions pale in comparison to places south of the border. In short, don’t worry about being yourself or anything, as the Azerbaijanis are generally very accommodating- besides, part of our job as PCVs is to help local folks challenge some of the notions they have about the world, gender equality, etc by showing there are other ways to do things that work too!

Oh yeah, forgot to say this- don’t worry about your medical clearance taking a while or anything. Mine took FOREVER to go through, if only because my doctor kept fudging the paperwork. Looking forward to meeting you this Spring!

Decided to be a hipster and take pictures of my food…

Actually, this is New Years Dinner. New Year (Yeni Il in Azerbaijani, and Novy God in Russian) is a big deal here, basically New Years Eve and Christmas combined. Take all the commercialized elements of Christmas- Santa Claus, decorated trees, and what not- and combine then with your traditional New Year celebrations and you get Yeni Il.

You might ask “Why have people adopted secular Christmas traditions for New Year celebrations?” Well, long story short, back when Communists ran things around here, Christmas and other religious holidays were more or less banned, so they celebrated New Year instead. Even though the Communists are gone today and people are welcome to celebrate whatever holidays they want, Yeni Il is still the biggest holiday of the season!

(Source: Wikipedia)

the-soul-that-lives-within asked: Hi! Congrats on completing your training! I applied to Peace Corps in September and was just wondering if I could use you as a resource (questions on the process, etc). I was nominated for English teaching also. That's why I asked you. If not that's fine. Again, congrats!

Sure, ask away! That being said, Peace Corps’ internal processes for doing things are often mystifying to myself as well, so I may not be much help depending on what you are asking about, i.e. country placement or departure date. I can’t think of a single PCV who is entirely certain how those work…

Hello World!

Hello! My name is Cory Smith and I am a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Currently, I teach English as a Foreign Language in a town just north of the Iranian border. I started this blog to share my experiences with my friends and the world.

I’ve been in Azerbaijan since September 2012, and recently finished an extended training period and began working in my school. I will be posting pictures, information about Azerbaijan, stories about daily life, and anything else I think might be of interest. If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask!

Thank you, and as the Azerbaijanis say, Xoş gelmisiniz!