The Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (EURUS) is pleased to congratulate and announce that two students, Jason D’Amour and Leigh-Ann Woiden, entered an essay contest hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Canada and won two spots on a fully-paid trip to Azerbaijan!

Below are descriptions of the trip from both Jason and Leigh-Ann with a few photos of their journey:

By Jason D’Amour

Maiden Tower - Jason

Thanks to EURUS’ network with the local diplomatic community in Ottawa, students are frequently notified of different events, which often go beyond conferences and general academia. One instance is a competition hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan.

I responded to an advertisement for an essay contest developed by the Azerbaijan Embassy to Canada, which asked Canadian students to write an essay on the broad topic “What do you know about Azerbaijan?” I was selected as one of the winning participants of the contest, and as a result, I won a 10-day trip to Azerbaijan, all expenses paid! I met around 100 students and academics from nine different countries, and was exposed to different cultures. We were hosted in fantastic hotel rooms and got a tour of different parts of the country. We not only saw Baku, but also nearby cultural and historic sites, as well as a trip to the northeast, where we stayed in a town at the feet of the Caucasus Mountains.

This trip was also extremely beneficial to my research as I met others, including students and professionals, from various countries who are working on similar issues, and I have now made academic and professional connections that go beyond what I would have made in Canada. This opportunity serves as another reminder in taking advantage of the fantastic program at EURUS and the local and global networks studying here provides!

Jason is a second-year graduate student in the EURUS MA program and is researching Azerbaijan’s foreign policy challenges in the Middle East.

By Leigh-Ann WoidenADA University - Award

In April, I entered an essay contest titled “What do you know about Azerbaijan?” co-launched by the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, which was hosted by the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Canada. The winners of the essay contest were awarded with a fully accommodated ten day trip to Baku, Azerbaijan. I had the pleasure of being among six other Canadians who were awarded with this amazing opportunity.

By entering in the essay contest, I was able to explore my interests in agriculture and the implementation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Azerbaijan and Canada. By doing so, the contest pushed my academic career as a Carleton University student, and more particularly as a EURUS student, to continue with studying agriculture in Post-Soviet countries. In addition, this trip allowed me to experience the culture of Azerbaijan and to open myself to different areas of focus for future study.

On this trip, I had the pleasure of exploring modern Azerbaijan, getting to know some locals, seeing the Ateshgah fire temple, the famous Flame Towers and the Gobustan reserves, amongst other things. We also had the opportunity to travel out to Gabala, Sheki and Lahij, where we saw ancient Albanian temples and excavation sites. One of the things that fascinated me the most were the differing agricultural practices present in the country from those of Canada. The local livestock wandered as they pleased in villages and alongside the road, for example. This trip also introduced me to amazing young adults and students from around the world. The delegates from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Estonia, Hungary, Mexico, South Africa and Vietnam inspired me to study what I love and do what I dream.

Leigh-Ann is a fourth-year student in the EURUS BA program and is currently interning at the Embassy of Azerbaijan as part of the EURUS internship opportunity. She will graduate in January 2015.

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 Congratulations, Jason and Leigh-Ann!

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