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Mehrgan Cultural Foundation: Agents of Change through Community-Based Dialogue

Source: PARSA Community Foundation

Founded in 1994, Mehrgan Cultural Foundation was conceived by Hassan and Faezeh Firouzi in San Diego, California as a non-political, non-religious, and non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Iranian heritage. This aim is most notably achieved through their annual seminars promoting awareness, tolerance, peace and cultural understanding.

Initially, the goal for the foundation was to provide an open forum, free of any admission fees, to gather on a monthly basis for reading poetry and observing various Iranian festivities. The monthly gatherings were met with great enthusiasm from the Iranian community in San Diego. This overwhelming response was clearly indicative of the need and desire that existed within the community for such gatherings. Additionally, the donations received from the participants were a significant sign that the community was stepping up to the plate to support these meetings.

The positive reaction from the community motivated the organizers to expand the forums to include social and cultural topics as well. As a result of this expansion, Mehrgan Cultural Foundation was met with even more participation from the community. This led to the idea of presenting one-day seminars which have now become the four-day seminars held on Labor Day weekend each year.

In 2003, the first seminar titled "Freedom" brought together 1,200 Iranian participants from all over the world. Seven distinguished speakers tackled this vast topic from different areas of expertise and engaged in an open forum for exchange of ideas and questions and answers. Hosting such a big event required extensive team effort which was fulfilled by forming an advisory board consisting of scholars such as Dr. Abbas Milani, as well as community leaders.

Since then, four more annual seminars have been held: "Social Justice" in 2004, "Iranian Identity" in 2005, "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" in 2006, and "Boundaries of Knowledge and the Arts" in 2007, with a cumulative participation of 27 scholars and many distinguished artists. The seminars have become a forum for introducing new research and young Iranian scholars to the Persian community.

It is noteworthy that Mehrgan Cultural Foundation presents these seminars in both English and Persian so as to include the younger generation and the non-Persian speaking community. They have also established a group of individual sponsors who have made an annual commitment of $1,000 each to the seminar.

Building on the knowledge and the experience gained during the last fourteen years, Mehrgan Cultural Foundation is looking forward to holding the 2008 Seminar under the title of "Women in Culture and History of Iran."  They look forward to welcoming an ever-expanding audience from across the world.

... Payvand News - 05/08/08 ... --

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