Posts Tagged ‘education’

Windows on Iran 53

A beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more photos from this event.

A beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the end of this 'Window' for more photos from this event. Also be sure to check out Brian Appleton's photo essay from his recent trip to Iran, entitled "Five Days in Tehran" (link below).

Dear All,

I hope you have had a great summer. Here at Washington University in St. Louis, we are gearing up for another lively academic year. I have a wonderful piece of news for those of you who have enjoyed these windows, shared them with friends, or taken them to your classroom, during the past two years. My stellar student Matthew Miller has started blogging the windows. He has devoted a considerable amount of time, thought, and taste to the project. Check it out for yourself: https://windowsoniran.wordpress.com/. In not so distant a future, all of the Windows on Iran will be available on line. Thank you Matt! You have done a super job.


Tehran is a World Class City

* Thanks to my friend Brian Appleton, who has just returned form a trip to Iran, I can open this window with a wonderfully detailed pictorial essay called “Five Days in Tehran.” In this essay, Brian captures what some reporters allow to get buried under layers of political conflict. That is, he brings out the vibrancy and the complexity of Iranian urban life. The subtitle to his piece reads: It is important to understand that Tehran is a world class city. Not only does he speak about events, people, and buildings but he remembers other important details: “Since the revolution, 30,000 trees have been planted in Tehran and it is one of the greenest cities you will ever see anywhere on the planet.” Before I give you that address to Brian’s great piece, I would like to add that of course not every corner of Iran is Tehran. Neither would Brian Appleton claim that. Urban life is more affluent and complex everywhere. Here is a rare opportunity for you to read about the beauty and complexity (and of course traffic jams, etc.) of city life in Iran. Thank you Brian! http://www.iranian.com/main/2008/five-days-tehran.


Iranian Olympic basketball player Hamed Ehadadi and the head coach of the Russian team, Israeli David Blatt, embrace in a show of friendship at the recent Olympic games.

Iranian Olympic basketball player Hamed Ehadadi and the head coach of the Russian team, Israeli David Blatt, embrace in a show of friendship at the recent Olympic games.

The Israeli/Iranian Embrace

* It is generally believed that sports and art are the best way to bring people together. During the current Olympic games, there were such rare moments when Israeli and Iranian athletes transcended the political conflicts and exhibited kindness and support for each other. The first attachment to this window is a Kodak moment during which an Iranian 7-foot-2 basketball player, Hamed Ehadadi and the Israeli coach of the Russian team David Blatt have posed for the camera. Earlier, another Iranian player and Blatt embraced. This simple gesture of friendship should not be so rare as to make it to the headlines. However, with the current political tensions, it is good to see any such exchanges. Thank you Omid Jan for forwarding this message.


The Israelis Against an Attack on Iran

* While we are on the subject of Iran and Israel, I should bring a very important declaration to your attention. I have, in the past, quoted Israeli politicians who have called for a military attack on Iran. It is only fair that the voices of Peace Seeking Israelis be included in these windows as well. Earlier this month, a group of Israeli academics and peace activists who call themselves “Ad Hoc Group Against Israeli Attack on Iran” issued a very important press release to publicize their declaration. Its main message: “There is no military, political or moral justification to initiate war with Iran.” This is a courageous move that will be appreciated by all peace-loving readers of these windows, most especially the Iranian segment. However, the group made no secret of the fact that the Israeli well-being is of great concern to them. “After serious consideration,” the press release went on to say “we reiterate our position that all the arguments for such an attack are without any security, political or moral justification. Israel might get caught up in an act of adventurism that could endanger our very existence, and this without any serious effort to exhaust the political and diplomatic alternatives to armed conflict.” To read the entire declaration, please visit: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0808/S00077.htm.


Open Letter to Senator Obama

* Here in the U.S.. many are concerned with the same issue. Here is an open letter sent to Senator Obama on August 14 concerning the dangers of U.S./Iran confrontation: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21735.


Iranian “Star Students” in Newsweek

* I have often talked about the negative light in which the Iranian culture is presented to the American public. This, unfortunately, has impacted the general language used to speak about Iran. The result is that even positive matters are often articulated in a pessimistic manner that counters its positive nature. Let me give you an example.

* There is a piece in the August 18-25 ’08 issue of the Newsweek describing the success of the Iranian students which is a very interesting piece to analyze with the above point in mind. The core news is that, in the field of science, some of the best undergraduates in the world are being trained in Iranian universities. This should be cause for celebration. Not quite. First, we are given the feeling that all of that is on the brink of disappearing. I have no problems with pointing to economic (and other) problems that Iran faces. I am not even talking about exaggerations like “University professors barely make ends meet—the pay is so bad some must even take second jobs as taxi drivers or petty traders.” Yes, Iranian economy is not doing particularly well, but relatively speaking, Iranian professors are good wage earners.

My real problem with the piece is that it views the Iranian students’ success as an anomaly which requires an extraordinary explanation. And here it is: “When you live in Iran and you see all the frustrations of daily life, you dream of leaving the country, and your books and studies become a ticket to a better life,” says one who asked not to be identified. “It becomes more than just studying,” he says. “It becomes an obsession, where you wake up at 4 a.m. just to get in a few more hours before class.” In other words, when other cultures make educational success, they are bright. When Iranians do that, they are frustrated and obsessive.

And finally the piece adds: “Iran’s success, in other words, is also the country’s tragedy: students want nothing more than to get away the moment they graduate.”

I don’t want to discourage you from reading the piece. In fact here is the link: http://www.newsweek.com/id/151684. But it is truly amazing, how the American media has developed a talent for casting the most positive matters related to Iran in a negative light.


The Smallest School in the World

The young Iranian students diligently at work in the smallest school in the world.

Young Iranian students diligently at work in the "smallest school in the world." Please click on the picture to visit the teacher's blog and check out all the great pictures of the students and their school.

* Now that you know about the star students in Iran, I would like you to see why I think the cynicism in the Newsweek article is unwarranted. In other words, Iranians are not promoting learning in their communities so that good students can leave the country. Like many other people in the world, they care deeply about education. In a small and remote village in the southern province of Boushehr, a young man has established a school for 4 students to make sure they get their primary education properly (see the pictures above and below). And please bear in mind, this is not a propaganda tool of the Islamic Republic. The resourceful young teacher Abdolmohammad Sha’rani who runs the school has a personal blog in which he writes about the village, the people, and of course the school. Remember I told you a while back Iranians are number four bloggers in the world. Do visit Sha’rani’s blog, even if you don’t read Persian and enjoy the pictures he has taken of this tiny fishing village on the Persian Gulf: http://www.dayyertashbad.blogfa.com/ Thank you Bahar for forwarding this information.

Two young Iranian students who look quite pleased with their new school supplies! Please visit his blog for many more great pictures of the students and their school.

Two young Iranian students who look quite pleased with their new school supplies! Please click on the picture to visit the teacher's blog and check out all the great pictures of the students and their school.


Iranian Zahra Karimi has won the womens gold medal at the 2008 Wushu World Championships.

Iranian Zahra Karimi won the women's gold medal at the recent 2008 Wushu World Championships.

Iranian Zahra Karimi Wins Gold in Wushu

* An Iranian woman by the name of Zahra Karimi has won the women’s gold medal at the 2008 Wushu World Championships, held in Beijing along side the Olympic Games: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=67454&sectionid=3510211.



The Photographer Capturing Rural Life in Iran

* In these windows, I have usually brought you images from urban life in Iran. This is mostly because I have always found the complexity of Iranian urban life to be the aspect which is not as well known as it should be. However, today, courtesy of my cousin Abe Massoudi, I have the opportunity to introduce to you the great work of a contemporary Iranian photographer who has dedicated almost his entire career to taking photographs of Iranians living in rural parts of the country. Nasrullah Kasraian, who has had many exhibits and published over 30 collections of his photographs, is a national figure in Iran. Please click on the link to view some of his stunning images. Enjoy! http://www.jadidonline.com/images/stories/flash_multimedia/Kasraiian_test/kasraiian_eng_high.html.


Another beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the link to the left for more photos from the event.

Another beautiful picture from the recent water and light art show in Tehran's Parke Mellat. Please see the link to the left for more photos from the event.

Water Show in the National Park

* I opened this window with a look at the city of Tehran. Here is a visual delight from the same city to close Window 53, a great Water and Light show from Tehran’s Parke Mellat courtesy of my friend Farimah. Please click here: Water and Light Show in Tehran’s Parke Mellat.

Till next Window, have a great end of the summer.

Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Honorary Co-Chair, Iranians For Peace
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399

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Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.tehran.ir)

Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.tehran.ir).

Dear All,

Greetings! I hope you all had a very nice Thanksgiving. Mine was extended by the snow storm that followed the holidays. Many people in Missouri suffered extensive power outage late last week. My family were to get it back on Sunday. There were close to 200,000 people still without power as of this morning. On a much more exciting note, last week at Washington University we hosted Orhan Pamuk the talented Turkish writer who received the Nobel Prize in Literature this year. Later in the same week we hosted Shabana Azmi, the Indian actress/activist and her poet husband Javed Akhtar.

And now to Window number 14 on Iran. Please note that the current issues
are a few days older due to the delay in sending this window to you.

Current Issues:

* A concerned friend, sent me the T O D A Y ‘ S   N E W S

“Religious leaders in Iran have started a campaign to end all
university programs that educate men and women together, The
Guardian reported. The push follows the release of statistics
showing dramatic gains for women at Iranian universities, where
they now outnumber men in key programs. The Guardian quoted a
cleric as saying that universities were turning into “fashion
shows.” I called Iran, and had a long conversation with a trusted
university professor friend. There is no factual basis to the
above report.  From time to time, there are discussions in Iranian
papers about the disproportionately higher number of women in
Iranian universities (about 70% of the students). No official
comments have been made about an attempt to reduce the number of
women university students.

* Mostafa Tabatabainejad, an Iranian American student at UCLA, was
repeatedly stunned with a Taser by the campus police and then
taken into custody. He had been asked to leave the computer lab
after he failed to produce an ID during a check at around 11:30
p.m. Many terrified students videotaped the incident on their cell
phones. The videos show Tabatabainejad screaming in pain as he was
stunned several times with a Taser, each time for three to five
seconds. He was told repeatedly to stand up and stop fighting, and
that if he did not do so he would “get Tased again.” He is heard
screaming on the video “I’m not fighting you” and “I said I would
leave.” Carlos Zaragoza, a third year student of English who
witnessed the incident said Tabatabainejed was also stunned with
the Taser when already handcuffed. Zaragoza said. “(He was) no
possible danger to any of the police.” One troubling point is
that, according to eyewitnesses, Tabatabainejed was already
leaving when the police entered. The other that according to a
study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in 2001, a charge of
three to five seconds can result in immobilization for five to 15
minutes, which would mean that Tabatabainejad could have been
physically unable to stand when the officers demanded that he do so.

*According to Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney at the ACLU of
South California, “It is a real mistake to treat a Taser as some
benign thing that painlessly brings people under control.”
Eliasberg said: “The Taser can be incredibly violent and result in

Second Slide Show of Isfahan

* Time for nice, healing, beautiful images to look at! My good
friend Bahar Bastani has just sent out a gorgeous series of
pictures from the historical city of Yazd in central Iran. I will
turn them into a power point slide show and send them out in the
next window. Here is a sample:

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of www.letsgoiran.com)

Beautiful view of the city of Yazd at Sunset (courtesy of http://www.letsgoiran.com)

* I do have another slide show for this window from the city of
Isfahan. This is my second slide show of Isfahan in these windows.
I have deliberately blended historical as well as modern scenery,
art work, etc. Click here: Isfahan slide show. Enjoy!

Iranian Annual Book Fair

* The Iranian Annual Book Fair is a major event that brings together
thousands of volumes published in various subjects. Thousands of
people travel to the capital to simply visit the book fair. This
year, the book fair attracted two million Iranians. My good friend
Behrooz Ghamari, who wrote a piece for Illinois International
Review after his recent trip to Iran, has a picture of the people
attending the book fair in June. While critiquing aspects of life
in present day Iran, Behrooz – a historian and sociologist who
takes special interest in Iranian current issues – presents an
overall positive and hopeful view of the country. Do take a look
http://www.ips.uiuc.edu:16080/io/iir.shtml. Click on fall 2006
issue, and go to page 2 and 3.

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of www.flickr.com)

Another photo from the Tehran International Book Fair (image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com)

Iranian Cinema

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of A Few Days Later (image courtesy of www.ashreshteh.com)

Nikki Karimi, famous actress and director of "A Few Days Later" (image courtesy of http://www.ashreshteh.com)

* Iranian cinema continues to produce internationally acclaimed, often critical, films. A great feature of this cinema is the presence of women before or behind the camera. Nikki Karimi, the actress whose talent was, early in her career, overshadowed by her beauty  (http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1083.html) is now making it big as a director.  Last month, Karimi presented her second long feature film “A Few Days Later,” in the Italian film festival at Rome.  Karimi has acted in some the sharpest feminist statements by the prominent woman director, Tahmineh Milani. “A Few Days Later” tells the story of a young  woman who has to make serious decisions about her life.
Have a great week,
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399

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Metro in Tehran.

Metro in Tehran.

Greetings everyone,

I know, I promised to send you Window number 9 with a short delay. An
out of  town talk, and a canceled flight are the shortest explanation
for why it took longer than I promised. I have already had a number of
queries about the delayed window which is absolutely wonderful. It tells
me that you look through these windows with interest and this alone
makes the work worthwhile. So, I decided to keep the slide show of
Isfahan — which I am working on — for the next window to makesure that
this window goes out tonight. Please continue to forward to friends and
let me know if you are missing any of the windows.

Without further ado, here comes window number 9 on Iran.

Current Issues:

* According to the New Jersey online news source Star-ledger, an
interview with 400 Iranian citizens residing in Shiraz and Tehran
shows that Iranians distinguish between American foreign policy
and American people, and are fond of Americans:
* Emphasizing the above point in a congressional briefing on October
11, President of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Dr.
Trita Parsi described Iran as an asset rather than a threat to the
United States: http://www.niacouncil.org/pressreleases/press472.asp
* On Thursday September 28th, 2006, City and County of San
Francisco’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) conducted a hearing on
the visa revocation and mistreatment of visiting  Iranians. The
hearing was an inquiry into the treatment of the Iranian Citizens
who after arriving in the US found their visas revoked, and were
sent to immigration detention centers. Representatives of the
Department of Homeland Security, Border Control and Protection
(BCP) were invited to respond to the inquiry. Commissioners
expressed their dismay of what had happened to the detainees. A
large number of Iranian Americans attended.

Iranian Americans

* I promised to keep you updated on the Iranian American community.
It turns out we are more numerous than previous records showed. To
read the most recent study done at MIT, click here: MIT Study on Iranians in the U.S.

* This week, I want to introduce you to a Los Angeles based group of
Iranian American musicians, the Lian Ensemble. Described by top
critics as “virtuoso,” “world class” musicians, and “absolutely
soulful,” the members of the ensemble are firmly rooted in the
authentic music tradition of Iran. At the same time, they work
with master musicians from around the world (including great
American musicians) using their art to bridge cultures and promote
the ideal of peace. I have personally had the pleasure of reading
poetry with the ensemble and hosting them here at the Missouri
Historical Society and at Washington University in St. Louis. We
called our poetry and music performance The Axis of Love. Do visit
their web site at www.lianrecords.com to read about Persian
mystical music, the individual artists, and to listen to excerpts
from their work.

Social / Political

* In Tehran two new metro stations opened last week:
*  From March to September 2006, Iran exported over 18 million
dollars of saffron to neighboring countries:

* An Iranian court ordered the closure of the reformist newspaper
Sharq. While I usually focus on the positive news because the
negative gets enough publicity here in the US, this is an
important event. Any outside pressure on Iran (sanction, or talk
of regime change) provides the hard-liners with the pretext to
present the Iranian reformists as a threat in time of crisis.

Culture / Art / Sports

* Let me introduce you another great Iranian writer from Shiraz.
This is Simin Danishvar, the author of Savushun, the first Persian
novel that sold close to half a million copies. Born in Shiraz in
1921, Danishvar moved to Tehran where she was one of the first
Iranian women to receive a Ph.D. from Tehran University in 1949.
Her best-selling novel Savushun has two English translations. For
the translation by Mohammad Ghanoonparvar, see:
For a collection of Danishvar’s short stories see Danishvar’s
Playhouse: a Collection of Stories available through Amazon:

* Iranian cinema made a big splash with several prizes at the
Italian film festival (Oct. 11-14) in Trento, Italy:
* Iranian women volleyball players are pleased with the World
Volleyball Federation approving their playing in Islamic outfit:

Visual Delight

* Take a look at examples from the paintings of the young Iranian
artist Asal Khosravi, clicking on each painting to see the larger
version: http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=290 And visit the
drawings of Mohsen Daeinabi inspired by art of calligraphy at:
And before I say good-bye, I would like to invite you to listen to a
beautiful song by the young and upcoming Iranian percussion artist and
vocalist, Homayun Shajarian The song is about five minutes, clik on the
link to listen :

Have great week,
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399

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