International Writing Olympics 2011: Awarded
This past weekend, we celebrated another successful go of the Writing Olympics. The award ceremony was packed with guests, including representatives from the US Embassy, Peace Corps, and a host of media organizations, not to mention our budding young writers and their families. At the US-Azerbaijan Education Center in Baku, we gathered to present awards, read selected essays, and congratulate Azerbaijan on a job well done competing both within the country and internationally.
The Writing Olympics is an important piece of what we do here as Volunteers because it gives our Azerbaijani friends and students an opportunity to compete, to practice their English abilities, and to think creatively (a skill not though very highly of around here). Having students ponder questions like “Why is the grass green?” or “If you could fill the night sky with something other than stars and planets, what would it be and why?” is an exercise that doesn’t happen often enough. It would be great if we could do this essay competition in Azeri, but that would make the international part of it much more difficult.
I wrote about the Writing Olympics first last year, when it was the Trans-Caucasus Writing Olympics competition. We reached just under 300 participants and netted some real gems of quotes from the writers. Of the 11 international first-prize awards, Azerbaijan took 5 of them, more than any other country involved (Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova).
This year, Azerbaijan’s students were competing with countries across the globe, including Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and a bunch more (total of 9). Almost 500 students competed, and Azerbaijan tied Ukraine for the most international prizes taken. Overall, it’s a feel-good event that spreads throughout the world through Peace Corps. Encouraging creativity, providing a space to improve English skills, and building connections with people from nine different Peace Corps countries (and within their own countries, too!) is tough to beat.
On a side note, we also got some serious press coverage. In addition to my being interviewed about Writing Olympics and Peace Corps on the national TV channels, we also got picked up on Today.Az and Trend:
US-Azerbaijan Education Center on Saturday held a ceremony to award winners of the International English Olympiad. At the event, certificates and prizes were presented to eight representatives of Azerbaijani youth who have become winners of the contest. The contest was attended by 483 people from all regions of Azerbaijan – both pupils and students. For the first time, the International English Olympiad was held in Georgia in 2004. This year, the contest was by attracted 4,867 people from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Ukraine and Armenia. It was noted at the event that most prizes were gained by the Azerbaijani and Ukrainian pupils and students.