Justice for Khojaly

On February 27 in Houston, Texas the Azerbaijan Center held an event dedicated to the 24th anniversary of the Khojaly massacre “Justice for Khojaly”.

The event was opened by Farid Mammadov, an Executive board member of the Azerbaijan Center, who gave a brief introduction about the commemoration and welcomed Irada Akhoundova, the Director of the Center to proceed with the opening remarks.

The Director of the Center Irada Akhoundova, welcomed the audience and talked about the saddest day in the history of Azerbaijan, February 26, 1992. She expressed hope and belief that there will be justice for the victims of the tragedy of the Azerbaijani people and thanked everyone for their support of the Azerbaijan Center in its efforts in this direction. I. Akhoundova pointed out that such commemoration events have been held in Houston for six years already. It was noted that during this period a number of local legislative bodies, as well as the US Congress representing Texas state attended and supported the fair position of Azerbaijan.

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The Director’s speech was followed with a Minute of Silence in the memory of victims of the tragedy.

After that two Azerbaijani Students (ADA University) who are currently studying in the University of Houston as part of the student exchange program, took the initiative and continued speaking about terrible events of 1992 in Khojaly.

Mammad Talibov , the Counselor of the Azerbaijani Embassy in the US took his turn to speak of the Khojaly massacre occurred during Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He once again pointed out the importance of rapid resolution of the 24 years old conflict to establish peace and stability in the region, so that refugees could return to their land.

Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Houston, Ferhat Alkan, also admitted that Khojaly tragedy can be considered  among the worst crimes in human history, he pointed out that Turkish government and the Turkish people shared the pain of the Azerbaijani nation and assured that the innocent victims of Khojaly would never be forgotten.

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 Sam Merchant, speaking on behalf of US Congressman Al Green, recalled that Congressman Al Green was one of the first to recognize Khojaly massacre. He then presented Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. Later, James Winston, Senator Ellis’s Legislative Aide, also shared the grief of the people of Azerbaijan. In conclusion Mr. Winston presented the Certificate of Friendship Appreciation between Azerbaijani and Americans.

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After that, Sona Mammadova, one of the members of the Azerbaijani community in Houston shared her feelings about the Khojaly massacre, read a poem written by her under the influence of those events.

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Washington, AzerTac

Amateur Chess Tournament – Houston

Dear Friends, last Sunday February 21 both adults and kids took part in the Amateur Chess Tournament, organized in cooperation between Azerbaijan Center, Houston-Baku Sister City association and Houston Azerbaijanis. This was the 3d annual tournament and we were happy to see there were a lot of participants this year also.

Our congratulations to the winners of the 1st and 2nd prizes:

1st place – Mr. Khoa M Bui – (5.0/1883) – $100.00
2nd place – Mr. Shelev Oberoi – (4.0/1924) – $25.00
2nd place – Mr. Ernesto Lizarondo – (4.0/1865) – $25.00

We encourage everyone who did not win a prize or did not go at all participate the next year!

Special thanks to Ilgar Azizov, Eldar Guliyev (Houston Azerbaijanis) and Farid Mammadov (Azerbaijan Center).

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International Media

Khojaly Commemoration

On the 27th of February the Azerbaijani community in Houston is going to commemorate Khojaly massacre. Special guests and speakers from the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and other Honorary guests are expected. We encourage all of the Azerbaijani Community and friends of Azerbaijan to join us. RSVP here.

Khojaly Massacre

Khojaly was a town Azerbaijan. On Feb. 25-26, 1992 the town was attacked, and its population was subjected to a massacre as they tried to evacuate the town. Over 600 people, including up to 300 children, women and elderly were murdered in a bloodshed, which the Human Rights Watch would later call the “largest massacre in the conflict.”

The Amateur Rapid Chess Tournament

The Azerbaijani Community have the honor of inviting all Chess players/ enthusiasts to participate in the Amateur Rapid Chess Tournament.  

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Vugar Gashimov’ s Biography.
Vugar Gashimov was born on July 24, 1986, in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan,and learned to play chess when he was 6 from his father, an army colonel.
Mr. Gashimov quickly showed promise. He won the silver medal in the under-10-years-old division at the World Youth Championships in Minorca, Spain, in 1996, became an international master in 1999 and earned the top title of grand-master in 2002.
Together with Mr. Radjabov, 26, and Mr. Mamedyarov, 28, Mr. Gashimov formed the nucleus of a formidable team, and Azerbaijan became a perennial challenger for the gold medal at international team championships, including the biennial Chess Olympiads in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.
Mr. Gashimov also had some individual successes, winning the Cappelle la Grande tournament in France in 2008, tying for first in the first Grand Prix tournament in Azerbaijan, in 2008, and winning the Reggio Emilia tournament in Italy in 2010-11. His world ranking peaked at No. 6 in November 2009, and he was ranked No. 10 as recently as January 2012, before health problems caused him to stop playing.
News of his death brought a flood of condolences and comments on Twitter. Hikaru Nakamura, an American who is currently No. 6 in the world and is competing in the Tata Steel tournament in the Netherlands – the same tournament that was Mr. Gashimov’s last, in 2012 – wrote: “A very creative and exciting player whose games (especially in theBenoni) will not be forgotten.”

Vugar Gashimov, a chess grand-master from Azerbaijan, who was one of the world’s top players for a decade and who helped lead his team to the gold medal in the European Team Chess Championship in 2009, died on Friday, January 10th, 2014 in Germany, where he had reportedly been receiving treatment for a brain tumor. He was 27.

Overview of 2015 and new in 2016

Dear Friends,
Another year has gone by. And it is time again to share the accomplishments of Azerbaijan Center for the year of 2015. We would like to congratulate all the members of Azerbaijani community, all volunteers with the successful 2015 year.
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have been organized by the Azerbaijan Center and its members and volunteers in 2015. All of them have attracted a large audience. Azerbaijan Center made new friends!
 2015 was full of educational, business and cultural projects in cooperation with various institutions and with the tremendous support of our partners, sponsors and volunteers.
 As a non-profit organization Azerbaijan center continues to focus on enabling official and economic exchange between the State of Texas and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
 It is thanks to the dedication, hard work and unwavering support and belief of everyone helping us in 2015, we were able to implement the Azerbaijan Center’s vision of…
BUILDING BRIDGES 
BETWEEN AZERBAIJAN AND TEXAS.
Let us remind you some of the most interesting projects of 2015. Going backwards:
The year of 2015 ended with Children’s Recital Concert. In December talented students of Tarana Taylor Kamilah Obaidy and Timur Balametov have presented the results of their hard work to the grateful audience . On behalf of Azerbaijan Center we would like to wish both  Kamilah and Timur further success in learning the beautiful world of music and continuous diligence in reaching their goals.
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 November of 2015 is going to be remembered as a month of the first Oil and Gas Conference organized by the Azerbaijan Center in partnership with the Consulates of Turkey, Greece and Italy, and the University of Houston and with the support of the numerous sponsors. Southern Gas Corridor Conference 2015 gathered about 150 participants, including representatives from oil and gas companies,  consulates and legislative authorities; students from the University of Houston and Rice University; 20 notable  speakers of educational and legislative institutions (University of Houston, Georgetown University, Mayor’s Office,  the Senate). Read more…
And also in November the whole Azerbaijani community in Houston as well as all Azerbaijani nation celebrated Azerbaijan National Flag Day. The Reception took place in Zaza hotel, Houston, Tx. The event was recognized state and city officials to express respect to this meaningful national holiday of Azerbaijan. Find more information and pictures here.
And of course there were Picnics, Holiday Celebrations, Competitions, Festivals, Commemorations which were organized by the Azerbaijan Centre or where the Azerbaijan Center took an active part.
Please look through the pages on our website to remember all those events and watch for the new ones planned in 2016!
 The nearest events even though not organized but supported by the Center are the Exhibition

“Slavs and Tatars” and “Pan-African Women’s Economic Empowerment Summit”.

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Schedule of the Exhibitions and Lectures
January 15 – March 19, 2016:
Admission Free, reservations required, see countercurrentfestival.org
Jan 15, Friday at 7-9 pm   
LOCATION: BLAFFER Museum of the University of Houston
Jan 15, Friday at 6 pm 
“The Tranny Tease”
LOCATION: DUDLEY Recital Hall 4173 Elgin St, Houston 77004
LOCATION: Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore Blvd
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Marriott West Loop, near Galleria, Houston 
February 25-28, 2016
Speakers:

Ndileka Mandela, Mandela Foundation, granddaughter of Former President Nelson Mandela,(South Africa)

H.E. Veronica Macamo – Speaker of The Parliament, highest woman in leadership (Mozambique)

Bernard Katompa front-runner candidate for president & former CEO of Liberty Africa Group (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Mme. Rosalie Lo, New Partnership for Africa Development, Gender Unit NEPAD

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner 

Senator Rodney Ellis (Texas State Senator)

US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas)

US Congresswoman Fredricka Wilson (Florida)

Senator Donzella James (Georgia State Senator)

Ms. Donna Cole Cole Chemicals – Welcome Breakfast

Rt. Hon. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhilas Prime Minister (Namibia)

Ms. Susan Hodge, Women Leading Together, former Treasurer of Shell Oil and VP with Royal Dutch Shell

Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah Deputy Prime Minister. (Namibia)

Dr. Mae Jemison (NASA Space Shuttle veteran & Star Trek alumni)

Hon. Pendukeni Livula-Ithana (Minister of Home Affairs & Immigration-Namibia)

Hon. Haija Khadija Bukar Ibrahim (Minister of Foreign Affairs,  State – Nigeria)

24th Annual Turkish Festival in Houston, Tx

The 24th annual Houston Turkish Festival took place at the Jones Plaza on Saturday and Sunday November 14th and 15th, 2015.

Azerbaijan Center and HBSCA took part in the Turkish Festival.  This year’s Festival differed from previous ones.  This year various countries of the world took part in the Festival activities including arrangement of information booths, folk fashion shows, musical performances.  Visitors of Azerbaijan booth got acquainted with the traditional food, cultural peculiarities, national art and history of the country.  By tradition a ceramics artist Saida Hagverdi had a workshop where she demonstrated the sculpturing technique to the visitors of her booth.  Azerbaijan National Dress fashion show  has been presented by Mehriban, Kamran and Baby Orhan. Musical Band “Autesh” performed beautiful songs of  Azerbaijani composers, solo by Kamiyar.

Overall there was a wonderful and friendly environment at the Festival uniting different nations who live in Houston. Everyone enjoyed Delicious Turkish Foods and Pastries; took a sip of Turkish coffee and had their coffee cup fortune read; learned about and took part in Traditional Turkish Arts & Crafts and oriental dances performed by the world famous Turkish folk band, TUANA; dedicated children’s activity area with fun filled activities from balloon clowns, face painting to a magic show and storytelling; listen to live Turkish music performances; enjoyed a traditional attire fashion show and perused the Grand Bazaar offering modern and traditional arts and crafts from various lands.

The Kids venue had a dedicated children’s corner that will be filled will fun activities.

Cultural events included lectures on a wide variety of topics from history of Sufism and Rumi to Christian sites of Turkey, from ecological and biological treasures of Turkey to its economic role in the Eurasia region, and concerts of various artists, cultural exhibitions as well a very colorful Grand Bazaar

Great thanks going to the volunteers who helped to promote Azerbaijan culture at the Festival and provided support during the Festival.

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More Pictures and Song Videos…

 

Meeting at the Austin Capitol

On November 11th , 2015 new appointed Governor of Texas Greg Abbott met with the Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the US Elin Suleymanov, Councelor of the Azerbaijan Embassy Mammad Talibov,  and CEO of Houston Azerbaijan Center Irada Akhoundova in the Texas State Capitol. 


The Ambassador gave an overview of the main points of the effective cooperation between the US and Azerbaijan in such areas as energy supplies, fighting against terrorism and others. Elin Suleymanov noted a significant role of Azerbaijan Center and its Director Irada Akhoundova in successful organization of the important events such as an international conference “The Southern Gas Corridor in European Energy” and a celebration of Azerbaijan National holiday – Flag Day. Irada Akhoundova provided an insight about mission and purpose of the Azerbaijan Center in Houston. Governor Abbott extended his appreciation for the contributions of Azerbaijan Community in Texas and suggested that the relationship between Texas and Azerbaijan should be expanded.


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Read moreAzTrend_AzOxu.az_Ru

The Southern Gas Corridor Conference at the University of Houston, TX

2015 Conference “Southern Gas Corridor”

First Oil and Gas Conference about Southern Gas Corridor Projects organized with the help of Azerbaijan Center and sponsored by State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic has attracted a lot of attention of the public of City of Houston.

District Council Rep Edward Gonzalez opened the Conference with a proclamation by City of Houston and pointed out the importance of such a conference with regards to international relations between the US and Azerbaijan.

Bilateral in her welcome remarks the Chancellor of the University of Houston System Renu Khator drew the attention to the importance of a dialogue and interaction on the international level.

Irada Akhoundova, CEO of Azerbaijan Center and a Chair of Conference Organizing Committee, gave an overview of the main goals of the Conference which was building bridges between nations in terms of not only culture but also business. At the same time the Conference was a good opportunity for Azerbaijan State Oil Company SOCAR to shed some light on the Southern Corridor Projects.

The first session was devoted to topics relating to strategic importance of the Caspian region; Ambassador J.  Maresca has specifically reviewed the risk factors and main competitors in oil and gas supply to Europe;

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Dr. Economides presented a more specific view on oil and gas supply in connection with the geopolitical context,  providing some figures characterizing supply vs. demand, reserves vs. production in different countries around the world.

The second session was held by the speakers from Turkey, Greece and Italy. The speakers Caner Can (Counselor for Energy, Turkey), George Papanikolaou (Consul General, Greece), Elena Sgarbi (Consul General, Italy) outlined the advantages of the Sothern Gas Corridor project to their respective countries, in terms of economic investments, decreased level of unemployment, new perspective of diversification of gas supply to European countries. Congressman Weber have summarized the session giving the US perspective from the SGC Project pointing out the significant role that Azerbaijan is playing on the oil and gas market, becoming a fair competitor to the countries currently supplying the market.

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Ambassador of Azerbaijan Republic to the United States gave the keynote speech at Luncheon about strategic importance of Azerbaijan and the necessity to build strong partnership relations between neighboring countries and countries benefiting from the Southern Gas Corridor Project. He expressed a belief that the Project is a way for partners to demonstrate their reliability in business terms. He also pointed out the enthusiasm with which European countries participate in Project Development.

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Afternoon session done by Ed Hirs, Oil Finance Expert, started from the general overview of Global Oil and Gas markets, gas prices; major gas trade movements and Europe’s future energy supplies.

Deputy Vice –president of State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, has given a broad insight into TANAP, TAP and SPC Projects development as well as Shah Deniz capacity to feed the demand. Among the things to be focused on, he named keeping flow of crude oil production stable; increasing production and exports of natural gas; contribute to Azerbaijan economic development, link Azerbaijan in trade and infrastructure with other countries. He also drew the attention of the audience to the fact that Azerbaijan projects are profitable for the investors; Azerbaijan parliament has adopted 3 PSAs as a part of national legislation to encourage foreign companies to come to Azerbaijan to conduct business.

The Southern Gas Corridor itself has 26 wells, $15bn Offshore facilities, TAP $5bn, TANAP $12bn. About 12500 people employed on the Projects: these are just a few numbers to the point of the importance and seriousness of SGC Projects committed by Azerbaijan and its partners.

Dr. Shaffer from Georgetown University has focused primarily on the new resources development in Azerbaijan, its strategic geographical location, pointing out the work European governments have to do to create proper legislative and economic conditions for natural gas to be supplied there.

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The last but not least two speakers – Mr. Mammad (TANAP External Relations Director) and Dr. Niftiyev (Strategy and Policy Coordinator at Caspian Strategy Institute) talked about the outlook of TANAP and TAP Projects and their advantages to the European countries. It was mentioned that those projects have come to life thanks to strong economic and political commitment of Azerbaijan and Turkish leadership.

The SGCConference gathered about 150 participants, including representatives from oil and gas companies,  consulates and legislative authorities; students from the University of Houston and Rice University; 20 notable  speakers of educational and legislative institutions (University of Houston, Georgetown University, Mayor’s Office,  the Senate). More Photos…

Read More… CBC; FuelFixLogo Conference (4)

Azerbaijan National Flag Day in Houston November 9, 2015

Azerbaijan National Flag Day in Houston, Texas

After a full day of the Oil and Gas Conference “Southern Gas Corridor” that took place in the University of Houston, all the guests proceeded to Zaza hotel where on November, 9th, 2015, the Azerbaijan Center hosted a reception honoring Azerbaijan National Flag Day. It has become an annual tradition to celebrate Flag Day in Houston, Texas. The event gathered the Houston-Azerbaijani community as well as state and city officials to express respect to this meaningful national holiday of Azerbaijan.

The welcoming remarks as well as the insight in the history of the holiday and its significance to Azerbaijan Nation were done by the President of HBSCA and CEO of Azerbaijan Center Irada Akhoundova followed by the speech of Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the US Elin Suleymanov in which he extended his appreciation of Ms.Akhoundova’s work and pointed out the significance of the role of Azerbaijan Center in Houston in continuous development of the relationship between Azerbaijan and Texas.

Secretary of State of Texas, Carlos Cascos, expressed how delighted he was to be present at such event pointing out that this was the first event to honor the National Flag that he had a pleasure to attend. Secretary Cascos also emphasized his wish to visit the country of Azerbaijan to learn more about its culture and traditions. To conclude, Secretary of State delivered a message from the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, in the form of a congratulatory letter encouraging all Texans to embrace diversity and extended his appreciation for many contributions of the Azerbaijani community to Texas.

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Among distinguished guests was a representative from the Department of Trade and International Affairs, office of the Mayor of City of Houston – Nike Luqman, Consular Affairs and International Partnerships Manager. Ms. Luqman presented a Proclamation issued by the Mayor of Houston honoring Azerbaijan National Flag Day.

State Representative Alma A. Allen took the stage to congratulate Azerbaijani people for Flag Day and thanked the Azerbaijan Center in the person of its CEO, Irada Akhoundova, for the contribution and outstanding dedication for her support to Houston community. More Pictures… 

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Read more Azertag.az

Houston Iftar 2015 with Mayor Annise D. Parker

20150628_Featured image_HoustonIftar2015The 5th Annual Houston Iftar Ramadan Dinner with Mayor Annise Parker showed, this year again, a beautiful portrait of Brotherhood where all races and religions shared and enjoyed peacefully under one roof.

On Sunday, June 28th 2015, Houston Iftar gathered together several communities with members of all faiths and denominations to break the daily fast during this prestigious dinner at the Bayou City Event Center.

Over 1,500 people attended this meaningful event organized by the Abu Dhabi, Baku, Basrah, Istanbul and Karachi Houston Sister Cities Associations and the Islamic Society of Greater Houston hosted by collaborating organizations such as His Highness the Aga Khan Council for the Southwestern United States, Raindrop Turkish House, Azerbaijan Center, Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA, the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, the Council on American Islamic Relations Texas Chapter, the Hashoo Foundation, and many others!

The Mayor of Houston and other Congressional, County, City, business, civic leaders and Members of Consular Corps of Houston also attended the multi-cultural event to show their support and solidarity.

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The event began with a recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Zara Khan followed by a speech on Human Values in Islam by Imam Imad Enchassi, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City.

Mr. Muhammad Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator at the Houston Iftar Organizing Committee and President of the Houston-Baku Sister City Association greeted all the guests and expressed his gratitude to all Elected Officials, Dignitaries, sponsors, volunteers and attendees for honoring us with their presence.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee followed by Congressman Al Green gave their remarks on the importance of tolerance and respect between all humans. Both congressional representatives whose districts are located in Houston, also greeted the audience and presented proclamations to the organizers of the dinner for their hard work towards creating a more diverse and bonded society. All the volunteers at this event were a perfect representation of diversity and unity!

Both congressional representatives recognized all distinguished guests and representatives including several members of the Consular Corps and thank them for their presence and support.

Jihad Turk, President of Bayan Claremont Islamic Graduate School, shared his knowledge on the significance of Ramadan before handing over to M.J. Khan, President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

Through a video message, Governor of Texas Greg Abbott greeted the guests on the occasion.

The Mayor of Houston Annise Parker was introduced by the Guest of Honor and major sponsor of Houston Iftar for the past four years, President and CEO of Midland Energy & Petroplex Energy.

Keynote address was made by Mayor Parker who highlighted the importance of solidarity and diversity as foundations of the City of Houston while addressing the full banquet hall. The Mayor also made emphasis on the wonderful work that all Sister Cities are able to accomplish together.

Representative Sylvester Turner and Representative Gene Wu also joined the stage to greet the participants and present their best wishes of health and prosperity for this Holy month of Ramadan.

For the breaking of fast, the invocation was quoted by Imam Tauqer Shah from the Maryam Islamic Center.

The program was followed by a dinner for all to share.

All communities were proud to be a part of this symbolic event and look forward to the next ones to come.

On behalf of the Houston Iftar Organizing Committee, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all volunteers, participating organizations and generous sponsors for their strong support! You are the reason why this meaningful event exists!

About Ramadan…

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, is the month of fasting. During the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims are obligated to fast every day from dawn to sunset. Fasting helps to teach patience, self-control and humility. In the Holy Month of Ramadan, Muslims give in extra acts of charity, spend extra time in worship, forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and endeavor to cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith.

 

The Maiden Tower through your eyes – Award Ceremony

We were blown away by the creative spirit displayed by our youth through their interpretations of the renowned Maiden Tower as part of the “The Maiden Tower through your eyes – Children’s Art Contest,” held in collaboration with the Azerbaijan American Cultural Alliance and the Azerbaijan Center.

Known as “the most majestic and mysterious monument of Baku,” 11 bold participants wowed the judges with their unique interpretations of the tower and were celebrated at the awards ceremony held June 20, 2015 at the Azerbaijan Center.

Mrs. Emmanuelle Hamilton, Director of Marketing and Communications of the Azerbaijan Center, opened the ceremony by welcoming the participants and their families before introducing Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center and President of the Houston-Baku Sister City Association.

Mrs. Akhoundova elaborated on the importance of culture and youth among the Azerbaijani community and pointed out how this contest allowed the children to express their own ideas and perceptions of their cultural identity. Mr. Ismayil Ehmedov, President of AACA, also talked about the distinct connection between the artwork and the Azerbaijani culture and expressed his pride and admiration for the variety of artwork that was created.

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A panel of three judges was selected from outside the Azerbaijan community and together they critiqued the entries based on: interpretation and clarity of the theme, creativity and originality of the depicted theme, quality of artistic composition and overall design and overall impression of the artwork.

The winners Zahra Ali (First Place), Zarifa Aliyeva (Second Place) and Ujal Ali (Third Place), were praised for making thought provoking connections between the Azerbaijani and American mythologies, effectively illustrating powerful historical elements in Azerbaijani culture and visually and thematically integrating the beloved Azerbaijani love story with the Maiden Tower. The winners were awarded gift cards from Barnes & Noble and each participant received a certificate of participation, a free ticket to the Houston Zoo and the exciting opportunity to present their artwork in front of the audience.

The Houston-Baku Sister City Association would like to especially thank the organizing committee, Mr. Ismayil Ehmedov, Mrs. Saida Fagala and the children’s art teacher Mrs. Parvina Aliyeva, responsible for the talent that was demonstrated by the participating children. Both Mrs. Aliyeva and Mrs. Fagala were present at the ceremony and expressed their respect for the children’s artistic skills and their dedication to the project. We would like to express our gratitude to the judges for dedicating some of their time to this project and for their enthusiasm.

We would also like to extend thanks to our partners on this project, the Azerbaijanian American Cultural Alliance, the Azerbaijan Center and to the Azerbaijan community here in Houston that makes events such as these a great success.

Stay tuned for the next art contest!

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Music From Around The World – Organ Concert

We were delighted to have all the guests participating and share our Music From Around The World concert featuring artists from Azerbaijan and Turkey to celebrate the long-lasting friendship between the two countries and to honor the 97th anniversary of Azerbaijan Republic Day.

This event was made possible thanks to the joint organization efforts of the Consulate General of Turkey, the Azerbaijan Center and the Houston-Baku Sister City Association.

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The event started with welcoming remarks from the organizers. In his remarks, Consul General of Turkey Ferhat Alkan mentioned that “Turkey-Azerbaijan relations are unique. We define this special relationship as ‘two states but one nation’. We are now pleased to witness that Turkey and Azerbaijan have been staunch allies of the United States and beacons of stability, democracy and prosperity in a volatile region of the world.”

Before handing over to Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center and President of the Houston-Baku Sister City Association, the Consul General Ferhat Alkan congratulated all Azerbaijanis on this day of May 28th 2015 for the establishment of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic 97 years ago and addressed his best wishes of well-being and prosperity to the brotherly country of Azerbaijan.

Mrs. Irada Akhoundova started by giving a brief history of the establishment of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic in 1918 and congratulated all Azerbaijanis on this national day.

In her remarks, Mrs. Akhoundova also highlighted that Turkey became the first state to recognize the Republic of Azerbaijan when it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, the two countries have kept on strengthening their ties and friendship and “Music From Around The World” concert is just another meaningful example.

The concert featured artists from Azerbaijan and Turkey, Oya Ergun (soprano), Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg (organ & piano) and Narmina Aliyeva (piano) who performed Eastern and Western musical pieces including Turkish songs and Azerbaijani songs by Sevda Ibrahimova, Tofig Guliyev, Vasif Adigezalzadeh.

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After the concert, the attendees had the opportunity of congratulating the artists and were invited to a light reception with Turkish and Azerbaijani food. The attendees also had the pleasure of tasting wines from Turkey and Azerbaijan generously provided by Mid-State Wine.

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This event would not have been possible without the strong support of our generous sponsors and partners Turkish Airlines, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, Mid-State Wine, A-Media USA,  and our host, Christ The King Evangelical Lutheran Church in Houston, TX.

We would also like to give special thanks to all of our volunteers for their help in making this event a success. Our work would not be possible without the help of the community. Special thanks to our friend and community member Shahram Faghihloo for sharing with us the pictures of the event.

In the spirit of saving the best for last, we would like to give some heartfelt thanks to our artists Oya Ergun, Jamila Javadova-Spitzberg and Narmina Aliyeva for sharing their talents, their passion and for touching our hearts, minds and souls. Thank you!

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Pictures are courtesy of A-Media USA and Shahram Faghihloo

Press releases:
- http://azertag.az/ru/xeber/V_Xyustone_proshel_koncert_posvyashchennyi_Dnyu_Azerbaidzhanskoi_Respubliki-859597

Happy Azerbaijan Republic Day

The Azerbaijan Center and the Houston-Baku Sister City Association would like to extend its best wishes to all Azerbaijani around the world on the 97th anniversary of Azerbaijan Republic Day.

Houston City Council Member Robert Gallegos presented a proclamation on behalf of the Mayor of Houston Annise D. Parker.

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The Azerbaijan Center is also very proud and thankful to have received resolutions and certificates of recognition from Congressman Randy Weber, Congressman Gene Green, Congressman Pete Olson, State Representative Alma Allen and State Representative Hubert Vo.

END OF YEAR CHILDREN’S RECITAL “MUSIC IS IN THE AIR!”

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The Azerbaijan Center and the Houston-Baku Sister City Association were proud to host and showcase the end of year children’s Recital “Music Is In The Air!” on Sunday, May 24th 2015. The event gathered young talents from the community, their teachers, their families and a special guest singer for the occasion.

Our talented pianist, teachers and friends, Tarana Taylor and Nargiz Jeffus along with Mrs. Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center and President of the HBSCA greeted the guests and introduced the young talents of Azerbaijan and more.

Music is the litterature of the heart; it commences when speech ends. – Alphonse de Lamartine

The recital featured budding pianists Timur Balametov, Kamillah Obaidy and Leyla Mammadli. The students’ musical performance included songs from J. S. Bach, R. Schumann, K. Czerny,  E. Grieg, M. Clementi and many more.

Following the children’s delightful performance, Nargiz Jeffus and our special guest singer Kamiyar made us travel to our Land Of Fire, Azerbaijan, with the words and notes of Tofig Guliyev, Azerbaijani composer, pianist and conductor mixed with folk Azerbaijani songs filling the air and stopping time for an instant.20150524_Collage_notes

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all the artists for sharing their talents and to all the participants for joining us that day. You are the key to our success.

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Down The River by Asif Rustamov, a USA premiere at the 48th Worldfest Houston!

For the third time, after “The 40th Door” by Elchin Musaoglu in 2009 and “Buta”  by Ilgar Najaf in 2012, the Azerbaijan Center and Houston-Baku Sister City Association were pleased to collaborate with WorldFest Houston International Film Festival along with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan and Azerbaijan Film Studio in Baku, Azerbaijan to present Asif Rustamov’s new film DOWN THE RIVER, a poignant drama from Azerbaijan at the 48th Worldfest Houston.

Let the festivities begin: introducing Azerbaijani wines at the Worldfest opening reception!

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To introduce the guests of the Worldfest to the flavors of Azerbaijan, Mr. Toghrul Mammadov in collaboration with Mr. Leon Sierra, owner of Mid-State Wine and Liquors imported in Texas, in April 2015 and for the first time ever, wines from Azerbaijan and donated some bottles to the Worldfest Houston at the opening night on April 13th 2015, taking us one step further in the promotion of the country of Azerbaijan in Texas.

All the distinguished guests were delighted to taste SIERRA Land Of Fire selection of white and red wines from Shamkir, Azerbaijan.

The film: Axınla Aşağı (Down The River)

The synopsis

Ali coaches a rowing team in a provincial town. The young squad also includes his son Ruslan, who finds it difficult to meet the demands Ali makes on him, and his father’s frostiness and continual dissatisfaction are getting him down. Ali is experiencing midlife crises and only Ruslan is preventing him from leaving his wife Leyla, whom he criticizes for spoiling their son. His finds solace in his Polish lover Sasga, who’d rather have Ali for herself and dreams of starting a new life with him. Just before an important race, in the interests of the team’s performance, Ali decides to replace Ruslan, who was originally chosen for the event. But when the tragedy strikes that same day, Ali is overcome with emotions he doesn’t know how to deal with.

The cast

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The director

AsifRustamov_Portrait_2Asif Rustamov was born in 1975 in Baku, Azerbaijan and studied in Economic University and Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Art. Down the river is his debut feature film. His filmography includes shorts like Sunset (2002), Labyrinth (2003), With the back of Kybla (2009) and documentaries like The Crossroard (2004), Time of Mercy (2006) and Sun City (2007). The House (2007) won awards in Asiatica Film Mediale (Italy), Cine Pobre (Cuba) and Houston (USA) and invited to Eurasia (Kazakhstan), Kineforum (Russia), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Clermont-Ferrand (France), Fribourg (Switzerland), and Cottbus (Germany).

He co-founded the Association of Young Filmmakers of Azerbaijan and is an editor of the Azeri film magazine Fokus.

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On April 14th 2015, Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center in Houston, TX and President of Houston-Baku Sister City Association, was happy to receive, on behalf on Mr. Asif Rustamov,  the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival Silver Remi Award for “Down The River”, Independent Theatrical Features Awards – Dramatic – 2015.

We truly wished Mr. Rustamov would have been present that day and feel very proud for his success! We hope that, in the future, we will have the honor of welcoming the movie directors!

The production

azerbaycanfilmAzerbaijanfilm (Azerbaijani: Azərbaycanfilm) is an Azerbaijani state film production company. It was established in 1920 as a photo-cinema department at Azerbaijan SSR People’s Commissariat, and in 1923 renamed to “Azerbaijani Photo-Cinema Office” (AFKI). It went through several name changes, including “Azdovletkino” (1926–1930), “Azkino” (1930–1933), “Azfilm” (1933), “Azdovletkinosenaye” (1934), “Azerfilm” (1935–1940), and “Baku Cinema Studio” (1941–1959), before adopting its present name in 1960 as “Azerbaijanfilm” cinema studio named after Jafar Jabbarly. Currently, “Azerbaijanfilm” is a part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan.

Visit AzerbaicanFilm’s website to learn more about their activities: http://www.azerbaijanfilm.az/?language=en

About Worldfest Houston

20150414_Down-the-river_Screenshot-WorldfestWorldFest is one of the oldest and largest film & video competitions in the world. WorldFest was founded over 50 years ago as Cinema Arts, an International Film Society in August, 1961. WorldFest became the third competitive international film festival in North America, following San Francisco and New York. WorldFest is the oldest Independent Film & Video Festival in the World. It evolved into a competitive International Film Festival in April, 1968. It was founded by award-winning producer/director Hunter Todd to present a quality film festival for the Independent filmmakers. Hunter Todd has been honored with more than 115 international awards for creative excellence in film production, and he has been the producer, director, writer and/or cameraman on more than 300 motion picture and video productions. The mission/vision statement of WorldFest is to recognize and honor outstanding creative excellence in film & video, to validate brilliant abilities and to promote cultural tourism for Houston, to develop film production in the region and to add to the rich cultural fabric of the city of Houston.  All members of the WorldFest staff are filmmakers.

Visit Worldfest website for more information about their amazing work: http://worldfest.org/

We would like to express our sincere thanks to all participating organizations that made the screening possible and for helping us in creating stronger awareness about the country of Azerbaijan in Texas. Special thanks to Kathleen Haney, Worldfest Program Director, for her constant support!

Many thanks also to all the attendees for supporting our activities!

Press releases:

Novruz celebrations 2015

One of the most beloved and colorful holidays in Azerbaijan. Meaning “new day” in Persian, Novruz marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of the year for people in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iran and other common cultural heritage countries. Novruz has been celebrated for at least 3,000 years and is rooted in the ancient traditions of the Zoroastrian belief system.

Novruz gathered many Azerbaijanis and friends of Azerbaijan from Turkey, Holland, the United States and many more in Texas.

Novruz Concert at the Goldberg B’nai B’rith Senior Citizens Housing in Houston, TX

Novruz celebrations started at the Goldberg B’nai B’rith Senior Citizens Housing Committee of ‪‎Houston on March 18th 2015.

HBSCA and the Azerbaijan Center along with its volunteers and talented Azerbaijani artists, Kamiyar, singer and Nargiz Jeffus, pianist, organized a small concert for the seniors who lived and worked in Azerbaijan and others now residents of the Goldberg B’nai B’rith Senior Citizens Housing Committee of ‪‎Houston to celebrate Novruz with the community while savoring baklavas.

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 Annual Novruz Gala in Houston, TX

On March 20th, and to continue and end Novruz celebrations, the annual Novruz Gala was organized by HBSCA and the Azerbaijan Center with the help of its volunteers and partners. The traditional holiday celebrating the New Year and the beginning of spring was held at Café Caspian in Houston, TX.

The event gathered community members and friends of Azerbaijan from Turkey, the United States, Holland and more who enjoyed traditional foods.

DJVolkano and singer Kamiyar, on the rhythm of Azerbaijani music, made all the guests dance and celebrate together while sharing the spirit of Novruz.

HBSCA and the Azerbaijan Center would like to extend its sincere thanks to all the persons who made this event possible: our amazing volunteers for their help with planning and logistics, our sponsor SOCAR, our contributor Envyhandmade Inc. for the jewelry gifts that delighted the guests, our singer Kamiyar for an amazing performance along with Çağatay Atmaca, DJ Volkano for his great playlists, our photographer Shahram Faghihloo, and last, but not least, all our attendees that made this event a success by sharing their joyful spirit on this occasion. As we always say:

Our community is only as strong as the people who are in it.

Thank you for celebrating Novruz with us all!

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Novruz celebration in Dallas, TX

The Azeri community in Dallas also organized a small gathering on the occasion of Novruz. The Azerbaijan Center sends its best wishes to the whole Azeri community and friends of Azerbaijan in Texas for Novruz.

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Press releases:

2nd Annual Amateur Rapid Chess Tournament in memory of Vugar Gashimov returns to Houston, TX in 2015!

On March 15th, 2015, the 2nd Annual Amateur Rapid Chess Tournament, organized by  the Azerbaijan Center in cooperation with Houston Azerbaijanis Association, Houston-Baku Sister City Association and made possible thanks to the generous donation of Mr. Yusif Aleskerov from the U.S. Azeris Network, was held this year at Center64 Chess Club in Houston, TX.

This year, the event went international with players originally from at least 5 different countries and as always we were happy to welcome all ages: our youngest player was 8 years old! Supportive family members, representatives of Azerbaijani diaspora as well as local chess fans were among the attendees that came to spend their Sunday afternoon at Center64 for this 2nd annual tournament.

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Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center and Mr. Ilgar Azizov from the Houston-Azerbaijanis Association greeted the guests and introduced the country of Azerbaijan where Chess Grandmaster Vugar Gashimov was born and to whom the event was dedicated.

Ruled by the 5 rounds Swiss System, the tournament lasted about three hours. The tension was palpable and everyone was focused.

And the winners are…

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The winner of the tournament Ifeanyi O. aka Shaolin Monk received the winning Cup. Second place was awarded to Jeffrey V. Both winners received a cash prize. Our youngest player Rajni N. and third place ranked Aslan G. received a certificate of participation.

 

On behalf of all the organizers, the Azerbaijan Center would like to extend its sincere thanks to our sponsor Yusif Aleskerov from the U.S. Azeris Network, to Center64 and its volunteers and to all the participants for making this event successful.

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Celebrating all the women of the world!

This year again, Houston-Baku Sister City Association and the Azerbaijan Center celebrated Women’s Day the international way!

Celebrations started at Audi Central Houston on March 5th 2015 with an event organized by the International Russian-Speaking Professionals in collaboration with the Azerbaijan Center and the support of Kawai Pianos. The event featured talented musicians for a music night “The Center Of The Universe”. Alina Uddin, Ukrainian pianist, teacher, chamber perfor;er and accompanist along with Oleg Sulyga, violinist of the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and the Mercury Baroque, made a great tribute to all women of the world with their performance.

On March 7th, 2015, HBSCA and the Azerbaijan Center was happy to welcome members of the American Turkish Association of Houston and all the guests for another evening of sharing and of music featuring Azerbaijani pianist and community member, Tarana Taylor from the Houston Ballet.

Many thanks to all our partners, sponsors and attendees for their support and for celebrating with us.

 “The strength of a woman can carry the weight of the world.” – Sarah Pezdek Smith

Woman 's Day celebration

Remember Khojaly

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In Texas, Khojaly commemorations started on February, 17th 2015 with an event organized by Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan at the State Capitol in Austin, TX.

On February, 18th 2015, the Azerbaijan Center with the support of its amazing volunteers organized an event in its facility commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre that occurred in Azerbaijan on February 25th & 26th 1992.

Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center, opened the event with a brief introduction about the commemoration.

The introduction was followed by a commemorative minute of silence.

A documentary film from the book written by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Heydar Aliyev Foundation titled “War Against Azerbaijan” part of the series of “The True facts about Garabagh”

The documentary was followed by a speech from Mr. Ryan Kennedy, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston and founding director of the University of Houston’s Center for International and Comparative Studies. Kennedy’s work has spanned a number of areas in comparative politics and international relations, primarily dealing with stability and change in political institutions.

In his speech, Ryan Kennedy spoke about the Khojaly tragedy while comparing it to the one in Ukraine. He made an emphasis on the important of getting world attention which was currently not sufficient and the necessity of continuously work on increasing tragedy awareness worldwide.

Mr. Mammad Talibov, counselor of political and legal affairs for the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States of America in Washington, D.C., delivered a speech that included an overview of Khojaly tragedy’s facts.

Mr. Talibov made an emphasis on the refugee still suffering in Azerbaijan. To this date, this unresolved situation in Azerbaijan is still considered to be a frozen conflict with about 18% of Azerbaijan territory still occupied by Armenians.

The importance of maintaining a united and strong Azerbaijani diaspora around the world is crucial to increasing awareness about the ongoing conflict.

Mr. Talibov highlighted the fact that nowadays, over 15 U.S. states have recognized and commemorated the tragedy – with Texas ranking among the first ones on the list along with several countries worldwide with Turkey among them.

Mr. Abdullah Topcu, Vice-Consul of the Consulate General of Turkey in Houston commented that Turkey is a strong supporter of Azerbaijan and shares the heartfelt pain of Azerbaijani people about the Khojaly Tragedy.

Mr. Topcu reaffirmed that Turkey and the Consulate of Turkey in Houston will remain supportive to the Republic of Azerbaijan and, at a more local level, to the Azerbaijani diaspora in Texas and the Azerbaijan Center.

Mrs. Akhoundova highlighted the willingness of the Azerbaijan Center to maintain unity among organizations in Houston and was happy to introduce Mr. Javid Zeynalov as an active leader of the Azerbaijani community in Houston and President of Houston Azerbaijanis.

Mr. Zeynalov reminded the guests of Houston Azerbaijanis’ commemorative Khojaly Peace Rally to be held on Saturday, February 21st 2015 from 10:30am-12:30pm at the crossing of Westheimer Rd & Post Oak Blvd. The gathering will be @Starbucks to pick-up posters and flyers.

The announcement of Mr. Zeynalov was followed by an open questions session to the speakers.

As a small token of the Azerbaijan Center’s appreciation for his support and participation, a gift in form of books was made to Mr. Ryan Kennedy to keep spreading the word and educating other communities about the Khojaly massacre and the importance of having it recognized.

Once the commemorative session adjourned, all the guests gathered for a casual meet and greet session where light finger foods and Azerbaijani tea.

The Azerbaijan Center would like to extend its sincere thanks to all the volunteers, the speakers and the participants for attending the event and for their constant support to our organization and for commemorating with us such an important date for the Azerbaijani people.

The American-Azerbaijani community would also like to extend its heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Pete Olson and State Representative Gene Wu for their continued support.

The Azerbaijan Center also participated in the commemorative event organized by the Azerbaijanian American Cultural Alliance on Sunday, February 22nd 2015 at the Turquoise Center in Houston, TX.

We appreciate and support all organizations and members’ efforts in increasing awareness about Khojaly massacre by creating a strong impact in Texas through the different initiatives organized.

Following all the commemorations in Texas, the Azerbaijan Center’s CEO, Mrs. Irada Akhoundova participated in other events organized in Washington and Pennsylvania by the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Assembly of the Friends of Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani community and Azerbaijani State Representatives feel very appreciative of the support from the American community and State representatives in commemorating Khojaly Massacre.

KHOJALY COMMEMORATION IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – Related articles, pictures and videos:

Talents of Azerbaijan Series: Ella Leya and more!

“Azerbai…what?”, we often hear, “Azerbaijan!” we answer with pride. Because it is our vision to build bridges between Azerbaijan and Texas, let us take you, one event at a time, in a journey from Houston, TX to Azerbaijan. No need to fly above the ocean and no jetlag – guaranteed, we find the people, our people to take you under their wings on a journey of art, music, food, stories, poems and more…

There was no better way than a evening like this one to introduce our new program and series showcasing the many Talents Of Azerbaijan

 

That evening, the spotlights were on four talented guests with that little something in common: their country of birth, their land, their Azerbaijan.

Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO and Emmanuelle Hamilton, Marketing Director of the Azerbaijan Center greeted the participants and introduced all the Talents Of Azerbaijan of the night.

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Ella Leya, the guest of honor, is a singer, composer and writer living in London. In a discussion with Inna Naroditskaya, professor in Musicology and specialist in Azerbaijanian and Eastern music cultures but also Ella’s sister, Ella presented us her first novel “The Orphan Sky” and made all the guests travel and (re)discover the streets of Baku, Azerbaijan.

book cover imageThe Orphan Sky

Set at the crossroads of Turkish, Persian and Russian cultures under the red flag of Communism in the late 1970s, The Orphan Sky reveals one woman’s struggle to reconcile her ideals with the corrupt world around her, and to decide whether to betray her country or her heart…

A journey to Baku, Azerbaijan…

During the discussion, while Ella’s words took us, through the story of Leila, on a travel to the Azerbaijan of her book, the guests could enjoy the art work of two of our local artists, Irene Sheytman and Narmin Backus: some pieces inspired by The Orphan Sky and some others by our beloved city of Baku, Azerbaijan.

This book inspired me to start working on illustrations as soon as I put it down, although I was not invited to illustrate it and have very little hope that this book will be published with my works. Book touched me deeply not only because the main characters are my coevals and contemporaries, but also I shared their thoughts and feelings. I was reading the antagonist’s conversation and imagined myself walking down familiar streets. 

Irene Sheytman – Concerto – Acrylic on canvas

 

 

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All the paintings are part of a series called “Streets of Baku”. The idea for this series was born out of a simple nostalgia for the city where I was born, the city of Baku. As I couldn’t visit Azerbaijan for the first few years of my life in the United States, I began painting streets of my dear Baku; imagining that I was there walking on the streets. As my paintbrush touched the canvas, my heart and my mind were filled with wonderful memories of my life in Baku.

 

Narmin BackusStreets of Baku series – Oil on canvas

After a brief questions-answers session in this intimate setting with the audience, Ella Leya made us the honor and the delight of performing a few songs from her albums including a “Russian Romance”.

Ella’s performance was followed by a book signing session of The Orphan Sky.

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The Azerbaijan Center, with the generous support of El Tiempo Cantina, offered a buffet for the guests to enjoy to finish the evening remembering memories of Baku for some or simply meeting new people for others.

To continue filling the minds of our guests with this country we love so much, The Azerbaijan Center was also proud to showcase the work of Feride Buyuran and her AZcookbook “Pomegranates and Saffron: A Culinary Journey to Azerbaijan”.

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Imagine a country where East and West are beautifully intertwined in the cuisine and culture and where its treasured cooking secrets are waiting to be discovered. Welcome to Azerbaijan. Feride Buyuran takes you on a delightful culinary journey through this beautiful land in the Caucasus.

 

 

The Azerbaijan Center would like to extend its sincere thanks to its generous sponsors, amazing volunteers, talented artists and wonderful attendees for making this event successful and for “travelling” with us that evening.

 

Irene Sheytman and Narmin Backus’ art works are on exhibit until mid-April at the Azerbaijan Center.

To learn more about our Talents of Azerbaijan program and artists, please contact us at azerbaijancchouston@gmail.com.

Sister Cities of Houston Soccer Tournament returned in 2015!

On January, 31st and February 7th, 2015, the Sister Cities of Houston organized their annual Amateur Soccer Tournament aimed at increasing global cooperation at the municipal level and promote cultural understanding. This year’s tournament was held at Cullen Park.

Mrs. Irada Akhoundova, CEO of the Azerbaijan Center and President of Houston-Baku sister City Association was part of the SCH Soccer Tournament Organizing Committee along with other Sister Cities of Houston members Mrs. Teresa Yates, Mrs. Sandy Phan and Mr. Jamal Bafagih.

Houston-Baku Sister City Association (SCA) with the support of the Azerbaijan Center and its sponsor the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) participated in this tournament along with 7 other teams.

This year, the annual tournament counted with teams of Houston-Huelva SCA, Houston-Abu-Dhabi SCA, Houston-Istanbul SCA, Houston-Chiba SCA, Houston-Tampico SCA, Houston Methodist Hospital International Department and Egypt.

Egypt team won the 1st place of the tournament and Houston-Chiba SCA won the second place.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the players of the Baku-AZ team for their participation and energy.

Many thanks also to all the organizers, participants, referees, volunteers, the Houston Office of Protocol and International Affairs from Houston Mayor’s Offic and the Sister Cities of Houston board for their support in this project.

To learn more about the Sister Cities of Houston, click here.

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Picture is courtesy of AKA Photography and Azerbaijan Center

 

University of Houston’s delegation in Baku!

Education is at the core of Houston-Baku Sister City Association and the Azerbaijan Center’s mission as we aim at empowering all generations through education.
In order to accomplish our mission, besides local initiatives such as classes, lectures and more, we are constantly striving to facilitate and coordinate cooperation between Texas and Azerbaijan’s universities and academic entities.

The Rector of BHOS visited the University of Houston in April 2014 where both institutions signed a memorandum of understanding as a first step of future cooperation on future academic programs in instruction, research and faculty development, student exchange and joint Masters and Bachelors programs in Engineering. [Read more…]

After over a year of cooperation enabled by HBSCA and the Azerbaijan Center between Baku Higher Oil School (BHOS) and the University of Houston (UH). It was UH’s turn to visit BHOS in Azerbaijan. The visit of UH’s delegation, sponsored by BHOS, was the opportunity to meet with several educational institutions in Baku.

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The UH delegation counted with President and Chancellor of the University of Houston, Mrs. Renu Khator; Mr. Jaime Ortiz, Vice Provost Global Strategies and Studies; Mr. Ramanan Krishnamoorti, Chief Energy Officer; Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Dean Cullen College of Engineering; and Mr. Suresh Khator, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the Cullen College of Engineering.

The agenda

On January, 14th 2015, the agenda started off early for the delegation of the University of Houston with a meeting with Rector of BHOS, Mr. Elmar Gasimov for a discussion of mutual perspectives of cooperation and a meeting with students and faculty followed by a meeting with the President of SOCAR, Mr. Rovnag Abdullayev.

The following day, a tour to the new BHOS campus and Bibiheybat Oil fields was organized followed by a meeting with the Rector of Baku State University, Prof. Dr. Abel Maharramov.

On January 16th 2015, the UH delegation met with Academic. Akif Alizade, President of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan which was followed by a meeting with Prof. Nargiz Pashayeva, Rector of Baku Branch of M.V. Lomonov Moscow State University and with members of the National Academy of Sciences.

On January 17th 2015, the delegation headed to ADA University to meet with its Rector, Ambassador Prof. Hafiz Pashayev. In the afternoon, the delegation met with UH Alumni living in Baku.

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The results: Moving forward in education!
To deepen further cooperation, the University of Houston, Baku Higher Oil School and Baku State University signed a trilateral agreement. Two bi-lateral agreements were respectively signed between the University of Houston, the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences; and Baku Higher Oil School.
Showcasing the treasures of Baku: its history, its culture and its people

Every day, the agenda also counted with several visits of historical sites in Baku including the Heydar Aliyev’s Memorial in the Alley of Honor and the Martyrs’ Lane, a guided tour to Gala Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum Complex and Atashgah – the Temple of Fire Worshipers, the Carpet Museum, the Heydar Aliyev Center, the Flag Square and the National Flag Museum, the Old City, the Maiden Tower and the Shirvanshahs Palace and more.

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Thank you!

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all the parties, including our sponsors, Baku Higher Oil School, the University of Houston, UH Alumni and last but not least, all the other institutions  for their involvement in making the visit a success. The Azerbaijan Center feels very proud to showcase the country of Azerbaijan and its renowned educational institutions that are its strength and its future.
Let’s keep connecting the world, spreading the knowledge and encouraging mutual understanding through cooperation and educational programs and initiatives.
Read also:

A night of “Love and Gratitude” with Renara Akhoundova to celebrate Thanksgiving

We felt very appreciative to see so many faces and nationalities (at least 6!) gathered under our roof on this special occasion with our loyal participants and so many new ones too!

Many thanks to our special guest and talented international pianist, Renara Akhoundova, for such a powerful performance. Thank you for sharing your art and passion for music.
Sincere thanks to our volunteers for their great job in putting this event together with us!
Thank you ALL for your support, it means a lot to us because our community is only as strong as the people who are in it.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And thank YOU.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”– Marcel Proust

Renara Akhoundova

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Spooky Halloween Party 2014!

Enter if you dare”, “Keep out” said the signs at the entrance…but our brave participants in fact dared to come in and opened the door to an afternoon of fun!

Face painting, games and clown show – we had it all on November 1st 2014 for our Children’s Halloween Party at the Azerbaijan Center in cooperation with Houston-Baku Sister City Association!

Smiling faces, dancing princesses and strong superheroes filled the front yard with joy!

We would like to sincerely thank the volunteers of the organizing committee Narmin and Sofia for handling every step and taking the lead with the support of Saida, Arifa and Irana! Many thanks to all of you who helped in making this event memorable!

As we always say, our community is only as strong as the people who are in it – YOU ARE THE KEY TO OUR SUCCESS!

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Houston Iftar dinner 2014 with the Mayor of Houston was a success!

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The 4th Annual Houston Iftar Ramadan Dinner with Mayor Annise Parker showed, this year again, a beautiful portrait of Brotherhood where all races and religions shared and enjoyed peacefully under one roof.

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On Saturday, June 12th 2014, Iftar gathered together several communities with members of all faiths and denominations to break the daily fast during this prestigious dinner at the Bayou City Events Center. During Ramadan, Muslims request forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and endeavor to cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith.7J4A6940

Almost 2000 people attended this meaningful event organized by the Baku, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and Karachi Houston Sister Cities Associations and hosted by collaborating organizations such as the Azerbaijan Center, Raindrop Turkish House, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, His Highness the Aga Khan Council for the Southwestern United States, the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-USA, the National US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, the Council on American Islamic Relations Texas Chapter, the Hashoo Foundation, and many others!

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The Mayor of Houston and other Congressional, County, City, business, civic leaders and Members of Consular Corps of Houston also attended the multi-cultural event to show their support and solidarity. After being introduced by Aftab Ghesani, President of His Highness the Aga Khan Council for Southwestern United States, Mayor Annise Parker highlighted the importance of solidarity and diversity as foundations of the City of Houston while addressing the full banquet hall. The Mayor also made emphasis on the wonderful work that all Sister Cities are able to accomplish together.

IMG_5883The Mayor of Houston was joined by a Guest of Honor, S. Javaid Anwar, President and CEO of Midland Energy. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green, both congressional representatives whose districts are located in Houston, also greeted the audience and presented proclamations to the organizers of the dinner for their hard work towards creating a more diverse and bonded society. All the volunteers at this event were a perfect representation of diversity and unity!

The Azerbaijani community together with the Pakistani, Turkish, Arab, and American communities were all proud to be a part of this symbolic event and look forward to the next ones to come.

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On behalf of the Organizing Committee of Houston Iftar 2014, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to all the volunteers and participating organizations for their strong support!

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Read more on:
http://www.azertag.com/en/node/1252970
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-154062-Houston-Mayer-Annise-Parker-attends-Iftar-dinner
http://www.geo.tv/article-154062-Houston-Mayer-Annise-Parker-attends-Iftar-dinner
https://www.facebook.com/CAIRNational/posts/10152278546822695
http://photonews.com.pk/houston-mayer-annise-parker-hosts-iftar-dinner/

Houston Annual Iftar Dinner

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Abu Dhabi, Baku, Istanbul & Karachi Sister City Associations

along with

 The Islamic Society of Greater Houston

The Azerbaijan Center

and all Collaborating Organizations cordially invite you to attend

ANNUAL RAMADAN DINNER 2014

with keynote address by Mayor Annise D. Parker, City of Houston

Mayor Annice Parker

WHEN:

Saturday,July 12th, 2014

 from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM

WHERE:

Bayou City Event Center 

     9401 Knight Rd, Houston, TX 77045

Driving directions

Seating Capacity is limited to 1500 Guests

Registration is a MUST on a first-come, first-served basis.

Event & Parking are FREE.

Houston Iftar Organizing Committee 

(281)-948-1840, 713-524-6615, 713-480-6566

info@houstoniftar.org

Get more information

Please click below to Register
What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendarMuslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting.This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.The month lasts 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

This year, Ramadan will start in June 28th and finish on July 28th.

During Ramadan, Muslims request forgiveness for sins in the past, pray for direction and assistance in abstaining from everyday troubles, and endeavor to cleanse themselves through self-control and great acts of faith.

Let’s celebrate with our children!

An event was also organized on May 25th for the young students of the Odlar Yurdu Education Center to mark the end of Sunday school year and to celebrate Azerbaijan Republic Day with the new generation of Azerbaijani in Houston. This event was the first step emphasizing the importance for children of keeping traditions alive and grow around them as a symbol of cultural unity.

 

The celebration started at the Azerbaijan Center with a speech from the teachers thanking the students and their parents for participating and supporting the education center. The children read Azerbaijani poetry and sang the national anthem and traditional Azerbaijani songs.

 The President of the Azerbaijan Center, Ms. Irada Akhoundova, thanked respectively the art, language and the acting classes’ teachers, Saida Hagverdi, Arifa Bixby and Shahira Aliyeva. All the students and teachers received a certificate and a gift as recognition of their participation.

 The event ended with a balloon release of the colors of the Azerbaijan flag.

96th Anniversary of Azerbaijan Republic Day

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Every year for the past 96 years, Azerbaijanis around the globe observe May 28th as the national Republic Day in celebration of democracy in Azerbaijan.

A formal reception was held on May 28th at the Houston City Hall Rotunda venue, where Houston-Baku Sister City Association and Azerbaijan Center President Ms. Irada Akhoundova welcomed over 100 guests and outlined the recent activities of organizations. The event was attended by delegates of Houston-based consulates and city officials including co-host and Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez,
 the State Representative Gene Wu, Members of the Houston Consular Corps including Consul General of Turkey Bahri Batu, Consul General of Greece Georgios Papanikolaou, Consul General of Hungary Phillip Aronoff, Consul General of Pakistan Afzaal Mahmood, Consul General of Russia Alexander Zakharov, Consul General of Colombia Miguel Lopez, Consul General of Italy Fabrizio Nava, Consul General of the Republic of Korea Suk-Bum Park, Vice Consul of the Consulate of Brazil Marcelo Amoroso, Representative of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mr. Natig Bakhishov,
Members of the Houston Office of Protocol and International Affairs, Mr. Harry Gee, President of Sister Cities of Houston.
 
In addition to our guests we also had esteemed representatives from the congressional offices of Congressmen Ted Poe and Steve Stockman, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, and Texas Senator Rodney Ellis. 
Also present were representatives of Houston’s business, cultural, educational, non-profit communities and many Azerbaijanis living in Houston.

Executive Director of Houston Parks Board, Ms. Roksan Okan-Vick introduced the guests to the new U.S.-Azerbaijan Friendship Park & Bridge project in cooperation with Houston and Baku, Azerbaijan.

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Bridge
Speeches were delivered by several officials of the City of Houston and the State of Texas, emphasizing Azerbaijan’s rapid economic advancement and the importance of fostering and maintaining strong relations between the U.S. and Azerbaijan.  Also, numerous proclamations recognizing the Republic Day of Azerbaijan were presented by the officials to Ms. Akhoundova, including a Proclamation by Mayor Annise Parker declaring the 28th of May as Azerbaijan Republic Day in Houston presented by Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez.

The speeches were followed by a delightful performance by Jade and Jonathan Nakamura, two young students of the Odlar Yurdu education center, reciting a poem called “My Azerbaijan”, written by the Azerbaijani poet Samed Vurgun.

The celebration was concluded with a taste of traditional Azerbaijani hospitality providing an opportunity for the guests to connect and share their appreciation for Azerbaijan.

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Special thanks to our hosts and sponsors:

*Please see below for publications regarding May 28th celebration in Houston in Azerbaijani:

News Day.az – Hyustonda 28 may “Azərbaycanın Respublika Günü” elan edilib

 Texasın Hyuston səhərində 28 may “Azərbaycanın Respublika Günü” elan edilmisdir

SIA Azeri Publication – Hyustonda Respublika Gününü qeyd etmislər

 

Amateur Rapid ChessTournament!

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       Dear All,
Please join us for the Chess Tournament in memory of Grand-master Vugar Gashimov. We have 20+ players registered for the tournament and we are looking forward to having an interesting and competitive event. Due to the number of players who showed interest and to let everyone play as many games as possible, we have changed the format of the tournament from knock out to Swiss system (5 tours). As communicated before, each game is 30 min (15 min per player). With 5 tours and breaks in between, we should be able to determine the winner within 3 hours.
EVENT TIME & DATE: FEBRUARY 15TH, 2014 AT 1:00 PM
EVENT LOCATION: THE AZERBAIJAN CENTER
ADDRESS: 308 AVONDALE STR.
HOUSTON, TX 77006
(713)-523-0598
ADMISSION: FREE
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE EMAIL US AT AZERBAIJANCCHOUSTON@GMAIL.COM