There's no place like home
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 03:12
Only a week and a half left and we will all be finished for the semester. Finals will be done and books can be put away. I am looking forward to heading home to do some holiday baking with my sister, which really means that we will be drinking wine and catching up while the oven does all the work.
Like many students, I’m excited to go home, but what if you couldn’t go back home?
In Baku, I had a 17-year-old student named Tural. He was friendly and generous with a sparkling smile and a brain that soaked up everything. He was as eager to learn English as he was to share his culture with me.
Positivity seemed to roll off of Tural, that is, until you mentioned Armenia. With that one word Tural’s face darkened and hatred filled his eyes. He was born in the long disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a landlocked, mountainous region in western Azerbaijan that has been claimed by both Azerbaijan and Armenia. The conflicts and war over the territory have led to the loss of many lives and the displacement of both Azerbaijanis and Armenians.
Azerbaijanis as a whole seemed to foster a hatred for all things Armenian but Tural’s close connection to the Nagorno-Karabakh region enhanced this hatred. He and his family were among those who were forced to leave their homes, and Tural resented the Armenians because of it. He once told me he wanted to move to Iceland because he’d heard there was only one Armenian there.
The transformation in Tural’s face and his capacity for anger and hatred astonished and saddened me. He was one of my favorite students, always smiling and willing to help. He lost his home. I hated to see that kind of anger, but I could understand it.
I’ve left Colorado many times and each time, I always knew that my home would be there when I got back. The rugged mountains, the scent of pine, my family, and friends, but what if it wasn’t? From Palestine to Somalia to Azerbaijan, that is the reality for many people.