The Romanian Language and Culture Center within Azerbaijan University of Languages has organized on June, 22nd an anniversary conference to mark three years since the establishment of the Romanian language lectureship. In light of the covid-19 – related restrictions, the event could not take place live, as initially planned; however, the invited guests and participants were open to moving the conference online (the ubiquitous Zoom platform) and joined (and enjoyed) the event from the comfort of their own homes/offices.
The Romanian lectureship in Baku is a direct result of the first Azerbaijan-Romania Education Forum held in Baku under the auspices of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Education of Romania. The bilateral cooperation agreement was signed between Azerbaijan University of Languages and Romanian Language Institute, due to the active implication and support of the Embassy of Romanian to Azerbaijan.
Since its launching in 2017, it has gradually developed along several main lines in close connection with the goal of promoting the Romanian language and culture: teaching and evaluating the Romanian language as the second language in the bachelor level courses, promoting the study of the Romanian language and culture through extracurricular activities, promoting the Romanian culture through cultural, educational or scientific events in collaboration with other organizations in Azerbaijan or Romania.
Taking into account the specificity of the lectureship at Azerbaijan University of Languages, the purpose of the activities carried out so far was to develop the study of the Romanian language by laying out a coherent learning framework that highlights both the teaching performance, as well as the ability to configure the cultural and research dimensions.
The Anniversary International Conference was imagined from the beginning to highlight various features of the Romanian culture in an integrative, but minimalist approach. Thus, the three sections of the event introduced the participants Into the world of literature, offered Just a glimpse over Fine Arts and stressed upon the Cultural interferences regarding the Latin heritage in Romania. The Romanian poets Ruxandra Cesereanu, Mircea Petean, Emilia Ivancu and Liviu Mățăoanu enchanted the audience with recitals from their own works, while the soft streams of Ana Blandiana’s poetry, Romania’s proposal for 2020 Nobel Literature Prize, were read by the student Gülşən Atakişiyeva.
The glimpse of Fine Arts overviewed multiple levels to offer a quick dimension of how theatre actors and directors (Alexandra Tarce, Miriam Cuibus, Andreea Iacob from Cluj-Napoca National Theatre), cinema performances (Transylvania International Film Festival as a visual discourse to embody and perform identity , sketch storyboards (as illustrations for the bilingual volume of fairytales in Azerbaijani and Romanian – Și a fost așa… o lume a poveștilor), and ethnographic photography can value Romanian past and present landmarks. The main input in the musical field came from Virgil Mihaiu, a world-renowned Romanian jazz critique, who transported us into musical rhythms and showcased possible confluences and meeting points of Romanian jazz and Azerbaijani mugham.
The scientific paper presentations section gathered a number of specialists that debated upon the cultural interferences and the importance of revealing learning contexts to improve language acquisitions and to expand joint cultural endeavors.
A special moment was the presentation of Jalə Ismayil’s book, România-Azerbaidjan: două culturi. Infinite oportunități (Romania and Azerbaijan: two cultures, boundless opportunities), an editorial achievement of the Romanian Language and Culture Center. The research remains so far unique by scientific theme and content and could serve as a reference (and hopefully as a source of inspiration) for further cultural projects and programs aiming at showcasing Romanian and Azerbaijani cultural heritage. The scope of the book is exhaustive and comprehensive, both in coverage of topics and the timeline (it goes up to the present day). The approach is structured according to the significant periods in the historical evolution of the two countries and peoples, offering thus a richly-documented historical and cultural overview. The book is extremely valuable for both a wide and specialized audience; the extensive use of maps, photographs and reproductions of documents, posters and book covers completes and visually enriches the informational content.
The main deliverable of this event was to facilitate communication directly with the Romanian language students, online, in a way that would shed light on the cultural relations and converging points between Romania and Azerbaijan. Despite the practical challenges brought about by the covid-19 pandemic, there remains wide scope for new cooperation opportunities, for new exchanges on different levels.
The event was equally important for the development of students’ worldview and their grasp of Romania’s language and culture. The conference was held with the support of the Azerbaijan University of Languages, Romanian Language Institute, and the Embassy of Romania to the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Event organizer: Romanian Language and Culture Center, ADU, Baku,
director dr. Iosefina Blazsani-Batto