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Spotlight Article

The Impact of Cultural Exchange

Ismayil Huseynov
August 25, 2014

Throughout high school I dreamed of becoming a prosecutor, but in my final year of secondary education my plans changed. I declined my acceptance to law schools in Azerbaijan, and decided to attend university in the United States. I had been studying at a language institution in Washington, D.C., and the experience opened my mind to new possibilities.

 

At Kutztown University, I was the sole Azeri and the youngest student enrolled. Few of my peers were familiar with my home country and its culture. My education in the United States had changed my perspective and subsequently my goals, and I was inspired to bring this same opportunity to my peers and professors. I believed that through education about the culture of Azerbaijan, they might see opportunities they had not imagined before.

I partnered with the Azerbaijan America Alliance in Washington, D.C. to set up an exhibition at my University to introduce its community to the culture and history of Azerbaijan. Additionally the Azerbaijan America Alliance provided the scholarship that permitted my education in the United States.

On March 25, 2012, I welcomed more than 100 guests, including staff, faculty, students, and local and state officials to an Azerbaijani festival. The event featured traditional dancing, Azerbaijani cuisine, and photographic and film displays. The guests enjoyed being exposed to a new culture, but more significantly, faculty members took notice of Azerbaijani scholarship.

The faculty was able to draw from sources they had not yet discovered and incorporate perspectives they had not previously considered.  I was humbled by the opportunity to contribute to the faculty’s research.

The renowned Chinese philosopher Confucius said,

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

Education is the means by which we can change our action steps. Education can refresh goals and breathe new life into a trajectory. The Azerbaijan America Alliance provided me with education, and I passed that gift to the faculty of Kutztown University in the form of my event, and they will pass it on through their scholarship. Education, particularly education that exchanges culture, has the power to reframe our actions and goals.

 

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