Until this week, the best-known connection between Baltimore and the central Asian nation of Azerbaijan was Kavkaz Kebab, an Azerbaijani restaurant in an Owings Mills strip mall.

That may change now that the Azerbaijan America Alliance has started to fund scholarships through the Urban Alliance Baltimore, a non-profit that helps prepare low-income youth for workplace success, according to the Huffington Post. The Azerbaijani donation will, according to Urban Alliance’s executive director, “change the lives of ten youths in Baltimore.” And that’s not the nation’s only foray into the Baltimore education system; the Azerbaijani government is reportedly “exploring long-term educational partnerships with Baltimore’s top-tier institutions, including Johns Hopkins University, UMBC and John Hopkins Medical Center.”

Now, I know as much about gift horses as the next girl, but I can’t help wondering:  Why? Baltimore’s students can certainly use the help, and we’ve got some of the country’s best universities… but still! And unlike Honolulu, Newark, or Houston, we’re not even sister-cities with any Azerbaijani locales. Can anyone explain this to me?

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