Baku is a very beautiful and different place! I've been here for a week, and I'm finally over my jet lag (it's a 9 hour time difference from EST). The organization I'm working for, SEDA (Socio-Economic Development Activities), found me a wonderful apartment! I am able to walk everywhere, around the city, to work, to the busy walkway next to the Caspian Sea, and to the Old City of Baku, but despite this convenience, my feet (and blisters) are less than happy about the arrangement.
I am slowly getting involved in activities at work--last week I edited a Success Story article detailing the experiences of an attendee of one of SEDA's training programs. I attended a staff meeting, and met everyone at the office. The people here are very friendly, and eager to help! I also met with a representative from ICNL (International Center for Not-for-Profit Law), one of SEDA's partner offices, and we discussed the recent progress in the legislative component of the program. I've been orienting myself with the new law and what it means for the Azeri people, and ICNL has done fantastic work on the new law on public involvement. The new law will come into effect on June 1, 2014, so ICNL is waiting for feedback once the law mandates changes in the ways many government organizations carry out their operations.
Over the weekend, I was able to do some sightseeing. The buildings in Baku are amazing at night--many are lit up, and the flame towers are certainly a sight to see! There are so many beautiful fountains here, and the architecture of many buildings is spectacular. I visited the Maiden Tower, the Old City, and have walked by the sea several times on a crowded walkway just five minutes from my apartment! There is so much more to see, and I cannot wait to continue exploring!