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The Bay Area's Only Language Immersion Program for Iranian-American Children Expands and Moves Into an Idyllic New Home

Source: Golestan Center for Language Immersion and Cultural Distribution

The Bay Area's Only Daily Iranian Language and Cultural Immersion Program For Kids Expands and Moves Into an Idyllic Home.

Golestan Center for Language Immersion and Cultural Education opened the doors to its new home on September 2 in the historic Heywood House located at 1808 5th Street, just one block from 4th Street shops and restaurants, in Berkeley California.

What began three years ago as a playgroup among Iranian-American mothers wanting to teach their children their language is known today as the successful language immersion program, Golestan Kids.  Currently serving children ages 18 months and up, Golestan Kids is a non-profit organization whose mission is to help children become confident, caring, and empathetic individuals who are fluent in Farsi/Persian and proud of Iranian culture.

Golestan Kids provides an education that rivals the best progressive programs in the San Francisco Bay Area, while offering a fully immersed environment where children do not feel self-conscious about speaking a different language. As a result, they grow up with a sense of confidence and a respect for others and Iranian culture at a time when it is often misunderstood.

While there are a few weekend and after-school classes in Persian/Farsi, Golestan Kids provides the only daily program with full language immersion in the Bay Area - a region with an estimated 100,000 Iranians and Iranian-Americans. Recognizing the challenge of raising bilingual children and the quality of Golestan's programs, families commute to Berkeley for up to 75 miles each way to enroll their children.  While many of Golestan's students have at least one Iranian parent, they are also of American, German, Chinese, Cuban, Costa Rican, and Peruvian heritage.  Over 30% of these children are trilingual.

For some Iranian-American parents, Golestan provides the only hope of teaching their children a language in which they themselves are not fluent. Parent Ladan Sobhani reflects, "Having left Iran at the age of four, I never learned to read and write in my native tongue. When my first daughter was born four years ago, I wasn't very optimistic that I would actually be able to teach her my language.  Because of Golestan, not only have I been successful in teaching Darya Persian, but my American husband and I both learn new words from her every day."

At a time when the continuing threat of war against Iran weakens the already strained political relations between the two countries, Golestan provides a sense of community and cultural pride not only to its children, but to the diverse community of Bay Area residents.

Golestan Kids currently has limited enrollment available in the daily toddler (18 months -3 yrs) preschool (3yrs- pre-K) and after school (pre-K - grade 1) programs.  The organization is actively fundraising to support its operations.

Golestan Center for Language Immersion and Cultural Distribution

... Payvand News - 9/19/08 ... --

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