By British Council in Azerbaijan

23 November 2020 - 13:32

Working with the British Council got me one important step closer to being successful in my Chevening application.

Gulnar Jafarli, an English language teacher and trainer from the Learning Hub in Beylagan, shares her story about working with the British Council and becoming a successful Chevening scholar.

Everything starts with a life goal. My life goal has always been to become a leader in education - I strongly believe that my work to improve the education system in Azerbaijan will make my country and community stronger. Being awarded a Chevening Scholarship is a dream come true! I am confident that my success will be my building block toward becoming a better teacher and leader.

Grassroots of success

After graduating, I have worked as an English teacher for seven years in different schools throughout Azerbaijan. At the same time, I’ve also worked with three NGOs, taking every opportunity to hone my leadership, interpersonal and communication skills where possible. 

Being actively involved in an e-Twinning project co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Erasmus, I started working and exchanging knowledge with my peers from the schools in Europe, the UK, and beyond. This is when I understood that postgraduate education in the UK will be the best possible way forward for me and my professional development.

Road to Chevening

I learned about the Chevening Scholarship back in 2013. A friend and a peer from Egypt recommended that I apply for this opportunity, which offered scholarship awards to scholars with leadership potential to study for a master’s degree in any subject at any UK university. At the time; however, I couldn’t apply. I still needed more experience as a teacher and an educator to support my application. 

Success isn’t easy to achieve. I haven’t been successful in my Chevening journey from the get-go. It took several tries, a lot of perseverance, research and commitment. But each time I applied, I came back as a much stronger applicant.

Teaching at the Learning Hubs

Last year, another amazing opportunity beckoned. I started working with the British Council Learning Hub in Beylagan. It wasn’t the first time I heard about the British Council. I remember countless times when I was searching for their teaching opportunities, workshops and scholarships. Finally, I got my wish.

We started with teacher training in October. I got so much more than I expected. The British Council created a productive environment for the teachers which enhanced our skills and expanded our knowledge about education in the 21 century. One topic that I was particularly enlightened by were the lives of women and girls in the rural areas and their access to education. I was so interested in this topic that it strongly inspired my Chevening essays!

Then, in November, we hosted an opening ceremony for the British Council’s newest Learning Hub in Beylagan. It was a start of a huge learning journey for both myself and my students.

I also got the opportunity to visit Her Majesty’s Ambassador together with teachers from nine different regions, and we shared both our successes and the challenges that each one of us faced.

My teaching methods improved significantly, both through in-person and online workshops. I met many gifted teachers and we started working in groups, both through activities organised by the British Council and beyond. I took those methods back to my classroom straight away, putting the effort to make English easy and fun to learn.

A successful application

A new Chevening application window beckoned. This scholarship was a light at the end of a tunnel for me. This was the chance that would immerse me in the UK culture, enable me to meet and engage with scholars from different countries and backgrounds.  I decided to reapply.

It took a lot of sleepless nights to get my essays right. I explored everything about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), essay writing styles, and the current trends in education. I also planned for my proposals to be in line with the UK's objectives in Supporting Open Futures in Azerbaijan.

I was thrilled to win the Chevening Scholarship.

Studying MA TESOL in the UK will hopefully make me the better teacher, educator and leader I want to become.

I also hope that I will continue collaborating with the UK and the British Council to enhance education systems not only in my hometown but throughout Azerbaijan. I can’t wait to come back with improved skills and knowledge, and use these on the ground.

I would like to also use this opportunity to address my fellow Learning Hub teachers - if you want to make your dreams come true, never let anyone demotivate you. Sooner or later, success will come to you. Chevening Scholarship is an amazing opportunity that can make a world of difference for your career, professional skills, and life - you should definitely take it!

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