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Dispelling Myths and Making New Friends U.S. Iranian Table Tennis Friendship Tour


Source: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State

"We place sports as a bridge among our hearts for friendship with the U.S."
Shahrokh Shahnazi, President, Iran Table Tennis Federation

The Iranian's first experience in the U.S. was a late lunch that greeted the tired travelers after twenty-four hours in the air.  They were unprepared for this level of hospitality.  The happy beginning prepared them for the next three days that had mornings filled with training for the Pre-U.S. Open International Tournament in Coral Springs and afternoons spent visiting a boys and girls club and youth centers where they met American youth.  

President of the Iranian Table Tennis Team surrounded by youth at the Andre Agassi Boys and Girls Club

The Iranian women who were joined by President Shahnazi sent two hours hearing American women speak about their individual business success stories, learning to develop their own business plans, and being encouraged to become leaders. 

While the Pre-U.S. Open International Tournament brought some individual success to several members of the Iranian team as they matched their skills with players from 27 other countries, the next morning's airboat tour of the Everglades capped their first week with something so unique that a thousand pictures proved insufficient to capture the experience

For the second half of the U.S. Iranian Table Tennis Friendship tour, the delegation landed in Las Vegas Nevada where they participated in the U.S. Table Tennis Open.  The group proved to be quite competitive.  All advanced to the second round and 3 individuals, two males and one female player advanced to singles semifinals.  With one male doubles team advancing to the doubles semi-finals. 

"One must respect other's faith, culture, and lives'. We have found that in the U.S."
Shahrokh Shahnazi, President, Iran Table Tennis Federation

The group also experienced various cultural activities. The group participated in an old fashioned 4th of July celebration in a small town outside of Vegas where they observed thousands of American families gathered together to witness the fireworks display. While celebrating our nation's birthday the group often spoke of their celebrations in their home country, and the fireworks in Iran.  They all agreed, what they experienced in Nevada was amazing. 

The highlight of the Vegas portion was their visit to the Andre Agassi's local Boys and Girls Club.  At the club the Iranian team performed exhibition matches and gave table tennis lessons to the children.

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