Education&Freedom

Couple of months ago I got into a correspondence with a very young but already impressively different girl who won my heart with the first letter she sent.

I know, you’ll say it’s impossible to get to know a person via internet, but read till the end and you’ll understand.

She told me about her life – how she was born in a poor family and actually nailed a right to study in a good private school by winning the competition. Her education wouldn’t allow her think badly of her Government – “Our country is rapidly developing and we have to be proud”, they would say. And she would believe until she faced first signs of free speech violation inside her own school.

No, she’s very grateful for everything they did for her. She understands that they were too scared to lose good jobs and probably were trying to believe in these things themselves.

But she doesn’t. She can see what’s going on around her, but can’t speak up.

Because after graduating the school she decided to apply for Government program which provides scholarships for Azerbaijani students who want to study abroad.

And this is another challenge she had to go through.

On the interview in the Ministry of Education she had to answer questions like: “When was YAP (ruling party) founded?”, “By whom?”, “Who’s the head of it now?”.

“What ruling system is there in Japan?”, she was asked.

“Monarchy”, she answered.

“Why wouldn’t they change it?”, was the next question.

“…????...”.

Somehow, she passed.

The University she got accepted to required the payment to be transfered till August 31st. However, the deadline was getting closer but Ministy of Education wouldn't react in any way. Eventually she called there to say that the University warned her that if the tuition is not paid till the deadline - she and other guys from this program will be expelled.

The response of the ministry representative was: "Tell this University not to put demands on the Government of Azerbaijan".

The problem was solved two hours before the deadline and after several requests from the parents.

Right now she’s there, in one of the best European universities, discovering different world, starting a new life, passionately promoting her country she loves so much and… trying to find money to survive and pay for her books, accommodation, food. Why? Because it’s been more than a month since our government was supposed to send her (and other Azerbaijani students in her university) scholarship, but there’s still nothing on her bank account.

How does she survive? Fortunately, some Azerbaijani and Turkish families living there help kids coming from Azerbaijan.

“It’s ok now, I’m already used to living without a cell phone and sharing books with my roommate”, she optimistically said to me.

“What about the accommodation?”, I asked.

“Oh, they were already going to throw me out, but then I won this contest and received some scholarship from the university. It was enough to pay for the dormitory and two books. I’m sharing them with my roommate as well”, was her response. “I have good news too, I’m best in my mathematics class so far!”, she added.

We became friends in a blink of the eye and now she writes me almost every week describing her life there and the way her lessons go, she asks me about my projects and plans, she sends me congratulations on holidays. Her letters are usually long, pretty detailed and very positive regardless the problems she describes there.

And me? Even though sometimes I’m too lazy to read a joke of few lines and am absolutely terrible in solving my correspondence – whenever I see her letter among others I open it first and read it from the beginning till the end.

But what is more important – these letters always make me happy and proud.

I know, you still think it’s impossible to get to know a person via internet, but this is the power of belief that brings absolutely amazing people on my way.

The reason our correspondence started on the first place is because she felt the urge to tell me this story of her life and explain why she didn’t participate openly in AdnanEmin Campaign.

She wrote me to say, she hates herself for getting scared.

The first sentence of my next letter was: “I’m proud of you”. And I actually was.

The subject of our correspondence was “Education&Freedom”.

For me this girl is the hope. She’s a success story which I hope will be contagious for everyone she meets along her way.

Because if she’s a future of this country, then I definitely want to live long enough to witness it.

As for the dishonest authorities which are to blame for the problems of this girl and other Azerbaijani kids studying abroad by this program - they'll have a special place in this future.