Sorry to not have posted in so long. I get so caught up in the day to day that I forget some things may be interesting.

As many of you know, my purpose for being in Azerbaijan is to assist a local organization by amplifying its capabilities and helping the community solve some of its own problems all while fostering leadership and civic engagement in the community, plus more (it just doesn’t all fit neatly into 1 sentence). I got some pretty big shoes to fill. However, the community thinks my role is something different. As I walk down any street or in the bazar, I hear people comment, “Ohh she is English. She must be an English teacher.” I usually keep on walking smiling and laughing a little. But even my extended host family members asked if I was an English teacher. In their minds, what else could I be doing in Azerbaijan? Many English speakers that do come to Azerbaijan are English teachers. Also the role of a teacher is associated as a position for women. Women are not employed in many other fields. Since I am a woman and a foreigner, I MUST be an English teacher!

When people ask me directly if I am an English teacher, I say, “No.” The look of shock and confusing on their face is a little priceless for me. After my surprise answer sets in, they eventually ask, “So what are you doing here?” By now I should have my answer in Azeri down packed, but I don’t. I end up telling them, “I am a businessman. I work at the organization near the bank. I create community projects.” I believe each of those sentences produces a different emotion in them:
I say, “I am a businessman.” Their face expression says, “REALLY?? That’s unusual; you are a woman.”
I say, “I work at the organization near the bank.” Their faces light up, “Ohh yes! I know where that is.”
I say, “I create community projects.” Their eyes roll up like they are thinking, “What on earth does that mean?”
Unfortunately the conversation usually ends there because I have no idea what they are saying to me. It’s only been 4 months; the language will come eventually…in shallah! (God willing)

My biggest problem now is that I am kind of an English teacher. Recently I have been temporarily filling in as an English teacher at an international English school (Baku-Oxford School in Shamkir). So when I am traveling on the Marsharutka or walking to the school, people ask, “Are you an English teacher?” It’s sooooo difficult to say no. Technically, right then, I am one. Plus if I do say no, they then ask, “Well what are you doing at the school or why are you going there.” Which then I would reply, “I’m going to teach English.” We would then resort back to, “So you’re an English teacher?”

Alas, I am an English teacher, but I am not. My answers will just confuse them for the next 2 years as I will continue to answer, “no” because women are more than English teachers.