Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Games of a Lifetime: The First European Games in Baku

     Like many Azerbaijani people, I was overcome with excitement for the 1st European Games in Baku. I remember the city pull together for the Eurovision Song contest in 2012 and was pleasantly surprised with the city’s transformation and level of organization. Therefore, I had high expectations for the European Games. But after watching the opening ceremony I found that it exceeded all my expectations. I would go so far as to say it was as breath taking as the Beijing Olympic Games, demonstrating Azerbaijan’s dedication to the European Games. It was both visually and aurally impressive: the fireworks, dancers, and music showed so much of the history and culture of Azerbaijan. I felt so proud to be from Baku!

Opening Ceremony

    Unfortunately, I was not able to be in Baku for the opening ceremony, which started on 12 June in the Olympic Stadium. Luckily, the Azerbaijani Student Network (ASN) in Berlin organized a public viewing in Charlie's Beach, so I was still able to celebrate this event with other Azerbaijani people from Berlin and also with many other nationalities who were there at the public viewing.

    Right after work, my sister and I joined a virtual community of millions of Azerbaijani people watching the ceremony around the world. I was so proud from the first minutes of watching the ceremony. It was a very beautiful and colorful show, with great content showing the culture, history, traditions and specialties of our country. Azerbaijan is a country which is often misunderstood in the international community. The opening ceremony allowed for the international community to understand that Azerbaijan is a well-developed country with many fine traditions, bright young people, and a unique culture. One of the main cultural traditions showcased was rug weaving. An amazing choreographed dance displayed the most beautiful traditional patterns, using colour-changing skirts. It was stunning, and I’m proud that our people have such great taste. In my opinion, the show couldn’t have been better. We all felt that there was a lot of effort invested and they really did their best to benefit all of Europe.

    Some people complained that it was immoral to invest such a large amount of money into an event rather than into social services for the Azerbaijani people. However, I think that hosting these games was an important step for Azerbaijan.

    Firstly, it raised awareness about our country and dispelled the wrong impressions and stereotypes. Secondly, it created a positive view of Azerbaijan as a developed country that can stand on its own and do amazing things. Thirdly, for so many homesick Azerbaijani people living abroad, it was just amazing to watch this ceremony and be proud of how our city is getting more and more beautiful every day. It’s becoming an impressive modern city, tall and stunning.

    After 17 days of amazing games which were participated in by many European countries (I encourage you to watch them to see how great they are!), on the 29th of June I watched the closing ceremony at home on TV. It was as epic as the opening ceremony. Contributors and volunteers were acknowledged, athletes were celebrated. It was a perfect celebration for the first European games. At the end, there was another brilliant fireworks display even better than the one at the opening ceremony coupled with celebrities singing popular songs, dancing, and live-performance artwork. Azerbaijan’s history, traditions, and culture were all celebrated by the most talented performers in the country. It was a perfect way to mark the closing of the 1st European Games. You are welcome to watch both ceremonies under the following links:

    I encourage people to come and visit our beautiful country and see how it is visitor friendly, with its own traditions and culture, delicious food, nice weather and so much more. Come enjoy the beaches by Caspian Sea, the beautiful scenery, our colorful traditions, and many other things! The Azerbaijani people will be happy to show you around our country.

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