Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Aaron’s Last Post from Azerbaijan: A Service ‘Completed’

with 11 comments

“Thank you for your service.”

This is my last post from Azerbaijan for quite a while. As of today, I’m no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer. Over the past month or so, I’ve been wrapping things up in Lənkəran and preparing to end my Peace Corps service with all sorts of personal and administrative closure. I’ve turned in the Peace Corps-provided brown monster of a sleeping bag and my silver bullet water filter; closed the door to my Lənkəran apartment and handed the keys over to my landlord; filled out the Close-of-Service checklist and surrendered my International Bank of Azerbaijan ATM card. This last trip down to Lənkəran with Ryan was my goodbye to my host mother and Mirbağır, as well as a few other folks. After two years of living here in the same city, I’ve got more connections than I realized, and possibly more than I could ever say goodbye to.

Inevitably, there will be many things I’ll miss from here in Azerbaijan. I probably can’t list them all, but those that I can think of off the top of my head include the Snickers bars, which are better here than the ones in the US, and the sprawling public transport system that can get me to any corner of Azerbaijan, regardless of how rundown are the marshrutkas and “roads”. Some people might not notice it, but the fresh produce here is fantastic: tomatoes, watermelon, lemons, and the most important of all, pomegranate! I bought four pomegranates for about $1.20 the other day. That isn’t going to happen in the US. I’ll also miss being able to make my own schedule that results in something akin to a five-day weekend and allows me to miss work because it’s raining out. Trying to think of all the people here who have touched me, Volunteers, host families, colleagues, friends in all places, is an impossible task. The last few weeks have been a time for me to think back on all of those things as they led up to my denouement.

Yesterday, as I was finishing my exit interview with my country director, and then again finishing up paperwork with our administrative officer, they ended our meetings with, “Thank you for your service.” I’m not yet sure what is the correct response to that. My initial thought was, “What was my service?” However, I think that as I’m leaving Azerbaijan in a few hours and embarking on a trip that will loop me back home around the world, I’ll have to turn this over in my mind quite a few times. This service started in Milwaukee where I passed through security at the airport and put my shoes back on under the “Recombobulation Area” sign. As I’m headed out of here and arriving back home in about a month, I think I’ll slowly figure out what this service was. Part of that is already complete, two years of living in Azerbaijan, building relationships, learning about others and about myself, and thinking about my own plans going forward. But maybe an even bigger part of this process is going to be what I shape it to be as I move on from Azerbaijan and find myself back in my own personal “recombobulation area.”

My next post will be from an Aaron who is no longer in Azerbaijan.  See you there!


Written by Aaron

November 11, 2011 at 7:07 am

Posted in Peace Corps

Tagged with ,

11 Responses

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  1. Safe journeys and stop to think at every opportunity,no matter where you are, about all the people whose lives have been touched by you and your lovely ways AAron.
    Take care


    November 11, 2011 at 7:32 am

  2. Hi Aaron,

    Safe trip home and it was nice knowing you, reading you and following your comments, thoughts and ideas on Azerbaijan.
    Perhaps next time we hear from you, its going to be from another country, another interesting city or who knows, where your mind takes you 🙂
    Take care!


    Arzu Geybullayeva

    November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

  3. I was saddened by your post. My wife and I spent 6 weeks in AZ adopting our son from Baku. We also got to travel to Gobustan, Guba, Gara Bulag and other places. We totally fell in love with the people and the country. To this day we miss lavash and lula kabab. We teach our son as much as we can about AZ and hope to visit there one day. Your posts were a nice reminder of the fantastic memories and personal part of our forever family. I will miss them. Thank you for being so diligent in posting and so informative. I will read them all again, I’m sure.


    November 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

  4. Safe travels, Aaron. I hope all your recombobulations are easy and detention free. I look forward to hearing stories first hand.


    November 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

  5. Good luck, friend. Nice reading your stuff over the months.

    Ryan Cooper

    November 12, 2011 at 7:06 pm

  6. I clicked on yr blog hoping to see last thoughts about Azerbaijan, here it is. Reading those lines is good and sad. I remember PST days very well, you were a good trainee,and a volunteer, Now Azerbaijan thanks you for your service, and i am sure in the future you will thank to yourself for this service.
    I also thank you especially for the everything you have taught about blogging, you were also a good mentor. Wish you all the best wherever you choose to live.

    yaxshi yol sene, Aaron, bol-bol ughurlar, ozune yaxshi bax 🙂

    Sabina Savadova

    November 13, 2011 at 7:25 pm

  7. It was great reading your blog. You brought back many happy memories, and frustrations too!! Hope life treats you well and you end up somewhere nice.


    Russ Pearce

    November 16, 2011 at 9:03 am

  8. Xoşbəxtlik və uğura doğru yolun açıq olsun. Bizim üçün etdiklərinə görə çox sağ ol. Həmişə xatirimizdə olacaqcan, nə zaman gəlsən gözümüz üstə yerin var.
    Azərbaycandan sevgi və xoş arzularla,


    November 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm

  9. Thank you! Come back again….


    November 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  10. Hi Aaron, your last post from Azerbaijan reminded me my Lenkoran days, how we prepared for a test, interview and also read your blog together. The years passed so quickly … it’s hard to believe that you already left Azerbaijan….
    You raised an interesting question, what was your service? Well, maybe your service wasn’t as big as changing the world, like, lots of people dream, but it was so helpful that could to change people’s life. Even if these people are individuals, like me or other friends, your support was strong enough to affect our life, in a positive meaning. I’d like to thank you for all your effort and support. And hope to see you in the States 🙂
    Welcome home! 🙂

    Btw, please, send your email.

    iTek Dervis


    December 1, 2011 at 3:15 am

  11. Hi Aaron! Great blog. I just watched a BBC program titled Eurovision 2012, which focused on Azerbaijan and it’s there that I saw your interview. It was so great of you to compete in the local rounds! I’m an African-American male and I’ve been thinking about visiting the Caucasus countries including Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. I’ve traveled to different corners of the world but never to Caucasus. I don’t know Russian or any of the area languages, which I’m interested in learning the basics of before going. As Americans, I was wondering what advice you might be able to offer with regard to racism, fear/discrimination against foreigners, and language? I would be traveling their solo. Thank you for your help and also for sharing your experiences of this fascinating, but little-known country.


    May 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm

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