TODAY.AZ / Voice of Diaspora

Azeri woman appointed the director of London school

04 May 2010 [17:12] - TODAY.AZ
Vesti.Az interview with the director of Azerbaijani school "Caspian Khazri" (London) Simuzer Balaoglanova.
Simuzer khanum, please tell us about yourself...

I was born in Baku in 1980. Primary education got in school #181 in Mardakan settlement, in Azizbeyov district. At those times this “pilot” school was one of the best schools in Baku. I studied in Azerbaijan University of Languages, after that I entered the magistrates. Then, in 2003 I moved to London to continue studying there.

How did the idea of opening the Azerbaijani school in London come to you?

After I moved to London I missed the live relations. I knew none of Azerbaijanis living here. And one day I noticed the announcement in the newspaper that a teacher was needed to Russian-speaking school in London. I successfully passed the interview and was taken to work in that school. Some months later I was appointed the head teacher in that school, afterwards the director of it. You should have seen the astonished faces of the people, when I, a 25-year-old Azerbaijani was introduced to them as the director of the Russian-speaking school in London!

Once we, together with the students of our school participated in one of international festivals held in London. There I watched the dance “Yalli”. My happiness new no borders as I thought that I finally found Azerbaijanis. Our national costumes on the British stage looked so beautiful.

I was going to get acquainted with the dancers as soon as the dance was over. And suddenly, after the dance was over, the presenter announced this dance as the gift from Ararat!? I was very upset. The next day I addressed the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Great Britain with the request to get the address of Azerbaijani school in London. How astonished I was to know that there was no Azerbaijani school in London! At the embassy I was promised to get the possible assistance if I would establish such a school. This is how everything began. The official date of establishment of this school is April 22, 2006. Certainly, at first it was too hard. We leased the lodge that we had to pay a rent for, besides I also had to pay the teachers. I had to give everything and I didn’t have money to pay the maids. But this difficulty didn’t prevent us, I used to come early in the morning and clean the rooms myself. After the cleaning I changed my dress and sat in the chair of director.

What were the criteria for teacher being employed to your school?

In general, the teachers in our school are philologists. At first we had difficulties not only with money. The teachers should not only know Azerbaijani language, but also have the ability to prepare some plays with children, draw, and sing songs. The requirements to the teachers were very high. At the beginning the selection of teachers was made according the newspaper announcements. But now the selection became much harder, among the numerous candidates we select the best ones.

How many pupils do you have in your school now?

Nowadays, approximately 200 pupils are registered in our school, but only 50 of them can regularly attend classes. Unfortunately, most of the parents can’t always bring their children to school. But the classes are for free, because of the sponsorship of Azerbaijani-European Society.

Which of the teaching methods is practiced at your school – Azerbaijani or British one?

We use the mixed method. We use the so-called synthesis of Azerbaijani and British education systems. Let me explain. We have “attached” the game system, which is widely practiced in the West to the Azerbaijani system of education. For example, if it is the poetry class, children are dressed in the costumes of the epoch that is being discussed during the lesson. The child is dressed in the costume of his character and acts his role. The same happens during the history classes. If we study national hero Babek, the child is dressed in the costume of that epoch and speaks about the history of those times. The same system is used with grown-ups, as in our school are studying not only children, but also 70-years-old “pupils”.

Do you introduce to the British publicity the processes in Azerbaijan and around it?

Certainly, our main aim is to represent Azerbaijan in Great Britain. We often organize the events, dedicated to Karabakh conflict, we tell them about the history of Azerbaijan and other events, connected with the culture of our country. Not long ago, on the day of 18th anniversary of Khojaly tragedy, we honored the memory of the victims of tragedy by passing Thames on the board of a launch, holding 613 balloons with the name of a victim on each. We had the same amount of carnations. Near the parliament building we launched the balloons into the air and the carnations – into the water. This action was organized by the Azerbaijani-European society, and we are very grateful to the executives of the society for that. I would also like to give another example with “Eurovision” song contest, when all our English friends vote for the representatives of Azerbaijan. And each of them sends 10 messages.

How often do you come to Baku?

I often come to Baku, once in three months. Education ministry is very interested in our school, they send us free textbooks.


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