Mystery Class Mystery Class
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Introducing Mystery Class #10--Ismayilli, Azerbaijan
N, 48.150 E)

Greetings from Ismayilli, Azerbaijan!

My name is Amy Petersen and I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ismayilli, Azerbaijan from 2003-2005. Together with School #1's biology teacher Ulviyye Tahirova and students in our new Internet and Computer Center, we were secret Mystery Class #10 for this 2006 season.

The Country
Azerbaijan is the largest of the three countries in the Caucuses, a mountainous region between Russia in the north, Iran in the south, Turkey to the west and the Caspian Sea (the largest "lake" on Earth) to the east. As you might have guessed from the clues, the largest industry in Azerbaijan is oil, but the country is rich in many areas.

The history of Azerbaijan is very diverse. The name Azerbaijan means "Land of Fire" and there are sites where the land actually does burn because of oil and natural gas located underneath.



Azerbaijan means "Land of Fire"


Historically Azerbaijan has been occupied by a variety of peoples, including Turks, Mongols, Persians and Russians. After the collapse of the Russian Empire during World War I, Azerbaijan declared independence and established the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. This first Muslim republic in the world lasted only two years, from 1918 to 1920, before the Soviet Red Army invaded Azerbaijan. Subsequently, Azerbaijan became part of the Soviet Union.

Azerbaijan re-established its independence upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Despite a cease-fire in place since 1994, Azerbaijan has yet to resolve its conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan has lost control of 16% of its territory including Karabakh, and must support some 800,000 refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the conflict.

The Azeris are a very hospitable people, they absolutely love guests! Azeri food is very delicious, lots of lamb and rice.

The City
Our town of Ismayilli is located in the north central part of the country, in a province is also named Ismayilli. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Baku to Ismayilli.


The province of Ismayilli is shown in red on this map of Azerbaijan.



This map shows the province of Ismayilli, and our city of Ismayilli is in the center of the province.


Our School
I worked at Ismayilli School # 1 with biology teacher Ulviyye Tahirova in our new Internet and Computer Center. Over the past year we have been teaching students in Ismayilli about computers and the internet. Computers are just now becoming a part of education in Azerbaijan, and our school was very excited to participate as a Mystery Class.

In School #1's Internet and Computer Center, teachers like Ulviyye use email and web-logs to share information about our country with students all over the world. We are working on our school's first website, designed by local students and teachers.


In the Computer room- I'm teaching a group of students about computers in the first computer room in an Ismayilli school.


The Peace Corps has been in Azerbaijan since 2003 and volunteers help teach English and business development in rural Azeri communities. I served two years at Ismayilli School #1 and absolutely loved the experience of living and working in such a warm and welcoming community. Internet access and the work of teachers like Ulviyye are testaments to the advancement of schools across Azerbaijan.

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