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A Friend's Visit / Iran's Brain Drain Issue

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

It is getting a little cold in Tehran. Last week, one could easily feel the smell of winter approaching. The worse thing is not the cold, but the higher level of pollution as the molecule thickens. Almost everyday, this week I have had to go out for the whole day, even until late in the evenings, to different places. The headache that I get which is mainly due to pollution becomes unbearable at times. I guess the fact that in the past five days I have been to four khatms (memorial service) hasn't helped with the headaches.

Nevertheless, in the midst of this, an old dear friend was flying in from a very far away part of the world for a mere 40 hours visit. He was here to be with his in-laws on the sad occasion of loss of a dear father. He was here to show them his love and pay his respects, as his wife was unable to join her family on such a sad occasion. This was simply because of some silly clerk at the Iranian embassy where they reside who was not cooperative and failed to comprehend the severity of the situation. The clerk did not issue their young son a passport and didn't add his name on the mother's passport either. So the young boy never saw his grandfather.

My friend did manage to find time to drop by for a couple of hours. After exchanging family news, as always we got to the subject of "what is going on here!" We talked about many current and past issues. He informed me that he has noted yet another wave of Iranian immigrants who desperately want to leave and was wondering why and where this group came from. As the dean of graduate studies, he told me of several 40-year-olds, new Iranian immigrants, who want to take up a PhD degree, as it seems many did not find the kind of job that would be 'suitable' for them in their new country.

He mentioned a joke that there is this planeload of Iranians and Koreans arriving in the west. When it lands, the Koreans each go to start some kind of business and are very successful; the Iranian do the very same thing yet with a time delay. Since they first go and obtain a degree, be it a bachelor, maters or even a PhD, and then go and do what the Korean did some years earlier. We are a nation obsessed with degree, and please include me in that too. Is it supposed to be the route to a better life or just prestige of an academic degree? Do we really end up being better individuals, parents, friends or employees because of the educations that we have taken? I must admit one must truly wonder why, as a nation, we suffer from this obsession, the paper degree syndrome I call it. Please let me have your ideas on this subject.

... Payvand News - 11/24/03 ... --

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