Sumqayit, Azerbaijan during Peace Corps Training

Posted in Where in the World is MD? on January 28, 2011 by huggins2

This is a statue that is in Azerbaijan. It is in one of the largest cities in Azerbaijan. The statue is called the dove.


Education for All? Past and Future

Posted in Where in the World is MD? on September 3, 2010 by huggins2

As my departure time for Azerbaijan approaches, I have been thinking about the challenges that await me as a future educator. Having previously worked as a teacher in the developing world, I do feel as if I have a small amount of experience in handling this job. However, I know that I have so much to learn. This past summer, I worked in India as an English teacher in an High School. One of the biggest challenges that I had was gaining respect amongst the teachers and the administrators. Yes, we were American college students, but we had to do more than just show up and tell them we were ready to teach. One of the things that I did was just visiting the various classrooms. Many (not all) of the teachers appreciated when we came to their classes. Afterward, I would usually just talk with the teachers about life and about what their interests are. I ended up starting many conversations and friendships. I usually talked to one person at a time. After a while, one teacher would introduce us to another and another. One of the things that I discovered is that the best way to integrate oneself into a community is to start out small. You don’t have to become friends with 30 people at once. Sometimes meeting 1-2 people at a time is the best way to meet more people. Also, always accepting invitations to go to dinner with families living in the community is very important. I realized why not. When will I have the opportunity to travel to this area of the world and fellowship with these people? Anyway, that’s just some of the things that I learned. I will have more to say, but just not now. But, I do hope that some of these lessons will aid me in my work in Azerbaijan.

I am Joining the Peace Corps! Off to Azerbaijan!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2010 by huggins2

I am sure that there are some of you that have been wondering what I have been doing with my life. I am officially going to Azerbaijan as an English Teacher. For much of my academic career, I have been fascinated by the intersection of cultures between Europe and the Middle East. I have taken a number of courses at school that have analyzed and fleshed out the relationship between these two regions of the world. This next step in my life is going to be great because I will get to experience the “clash of civilizations” per se. Hopefully, I can shed away the perceptions I have of Central Asia and stop saying there will be a clash of the civilizations. But anyway, the primary region I have chosen to be involved with English Education is because I am interested in studying the close of the achievement gap between wealthy and poor students in the developing world. I have had a lot of experiencing with teaching and working in the education sector for the past 4 years. In fact, I just came back from India where I worked as a full-time English Teacher at a high school this past summer. I hope to further this passion for education into a possible career in education policy. Anyway, I have many things to learn and I cannot wait to see what Azerbaijan teaches me about education.

I hope to give an update about what happened in India this past summer. I have plenty of pictures and stories to share. For all of the Volunteers in AZ8, I cannot wait to meet all of you in Philadelphia.

I am Coming Back!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2010 by huggins2

As my time at Stanford comes to an end, I will be starting a new chapter in my life. I am going to India this summer for 7 weeks and I will hopefully be staying in California in order to work in state politics. I also plan on taking a brief vacation to Italy later this summer (it will all depend on how much money I can save up during Spring Quarter at Stanford). As a result, some of my updates will be in Italian. But rest assured, I will offer Italian to English translations. To make a long story short, I will be reviving the blog very soon. Look for my updates!


Posted in Where in the World is MD? on March 6, 2009 by huggins2

I had the opportunity to go to Naples this past weekend. It was amazing first of all. For many of you that don’t know, Naples is on the southwestern coast of Italy. In the area, there is also the great Mt. Vesuvius and the city of Pompeii, which was destroyed during the eruption of the volcano. Well anyway, thanks to the very generous donations of the Bings, we were able to stay at an amazing hotel that overlooks the coast of Naples. We also attended a ballet called Giselle at Teatro di San Carlo. The theater was pretty spectacular if I had to say so myself. The performances were also very good. I don’t know a lot about dance, but I can tell that the dancers clearly were very talented. Anyway, I of course had amazing pizza. On the last day, I went to this island called Ischia, which is this island in the Bay of Naples. The island is massive and also has its’ own volcano. I walked around quite a bit, took some pictures, and hopped on the ferry back to Naples. Fortunately, there was no rain, so I had a good weekend. 0228091159a

Sto arrivando alla fine…

Posted in The Political Beat on March 6, 2009 by huggins2

Due settimane fa, ci sono state le primarie per il sindaco di Firenze. L’atmosfera era molto emozionante. Tutti a INPUT hanno lavorato molto e la fine della campagna è arrivata finalmente. Per alcune settimane, sono andato a molti eventi per Lapo. Lui ha fatto alcuni discorsi per il comune di Firenze. Ho avuto l’opportunità di andare all’evento finale per Lapo a una discoteca a Firenze che si chiama Tenax. Benchè Tenax sia molto lontano da centro, c’erano molto persone che sono venute per la sera finale della campagna. Per l’ultima volta, Lapo ha parlato della importanza per l’ambiente e perché la comunità ha bisogno di più politiche per la sicurezza dell’ambiente. Per lo più, c’era una celebrazione piccola perchè la campagna era finita. Prima di uscire dalla discoteca, ho parlato con alcune ragazze delle elezioni locali per Firenze. Mi hanno detto che non c’è un interesse grande per le elezioni sfortunatamente. Negli Stati Uniti, ci sono tanti giovani che hanno un interesse nella politica. Infatti, ogni campus negli Stati Uniti ha tante organizzazioni per la politica locale, per lo stato, e per il tutto paese. In Italia, ai giovani piacciono le proteste contro il governo. Però, i giovani non vogliono essere coinvolti nella politica. Comunque, la festa era molto interessante perchè ho parlato con molte persone diverse delle politiche locali qui. Non c’era un discorso ufficiale di Lapo. I risultati sono arrivati la domenica. Era un giorno stressante per tutta la campagna. Però, gli spiriti erano molti alti. La campagna aveva un evento al quartiere generale. Quando sono arrivato, non c’erano molte persone. Dopo 30 minuti, più persone sono arrivate. Sono rimasto per un po’ e poi sono uscito. Prima di uscire, ho visto i primi risultati. Non era buono. Ho scoperto i risultati finali dopo tre ore. Alla fine, lui ha perso. Matteo Renzi ha vinto le elezioni. Lui era il presidente della Provincia di Firenze. Signore Renzi ha anche una storia molto interessante. Lui è molto giovane ed è uno dei più giovani politici in Italia. Inoltre, lui ha una famiglia con una moglie e due figli. Il giorno dopo le elezioni il rapporto giornalistico ha detto che Matteo Renzi ha vinto (con un margine del 14% a fine elezione). Lapo ha avuto un membro del suo staff dire che lui mandava i suoi saluti. Dopo, lui ha scritto un articolo piccolo con tutti i suoi pensieri sulle elezioni. Secondo lui, vuole lavorare con Renzi per sviluppare la città. Anche, lui ha detto che Renzi ha vinto in modo chiaro. Vuole dare tutto il suo sostegno a Matteo. Lui ha detto che c’è molto da fare a Firenze. Secondo me, Lapo era un buon candidato. Però, ho una opinione sulla sua campagna lunga. Lui ha avuto una buona campagna. Infatti, ha lavorato molto per il successo della campagna. Ma, lui non ha fatto molto con i giovani. La popolazione dei giovani è molto importante per una campagna. Danno un spirito fresco alla campagna. Non ho visto una presenza grande dei giovani. Secondo me, i giovani possono creare un’atmosfera nuova per le politiche. Lapo Pistelli ha parlato del cambiamento per Firenze e lo sviluppo dell’economia. Ma, lui non ha incluso l’opinione dei giovani. Ha usato l’internet e un blog, cose essenziali per una campagna nel XXI secolo. Ha creato un gruppo sul facebook. Negli Stati Uniti, Obama ha utilizzato questa tecnica. Obama ha vinto l’elezione perchè lui ha utilizzato tecniche nuove per una campagna. Benchè Lapo non possa usare la stesso tecnica di Obama, deve creare idee nuove per vincere la prossima elezione. Inoltre, deve usare la tecnologia. Comunque, lui ancora ha molte buone idee per la città. Dunque, ho scoperto che non c’erano molte persone che hanno votato durante le primarie. Ci sono tantissime persone a Firenze, ma non tutti hanno votato. Questo è un problema grande. Se Lapo vuole vincere l’elezione, lui deve aumentare l’elettorato. Era molto interessante vedere la campagna politica e paragonarla con il sistema elettorale degli Stati Uniti.

Congratulations Lapo for a job well done!

Posted in The Political Beat on February 16, 2009 by huggins2

Unfortunately, Lapo Pistelli lost the primaries for the center-left party in Florence last night. The winner, Matteo Renzi, won the election with 40.52% of the vote. Lapo came in second place with 26.91% of the vote. Lapo ran an amazing race in my opinion. He really does care about the livelihood of Florence and he would have made a great mayor. However, all things must come to an end. So what is the next step? I actually have no idea. But, the great thing about life is that whenever we move forward, better things happen. But anyway, congratulations to everyone at INPUT for their hard work during the election campaign. Also, thanks for letting me watch how the campaign unfolded. Not many Americans get to see the inside of a political campaign in another country. I am very grateful for the opportunity. I will certainly keep all of you posted on what I will be doing next. It will certainly be interesting.